HELENSBURGH Cricket Club’s dreams of reaching a national final were dashed after the loss of two early wickets paved the way for defeat in their Gray Nicolls Challenge Cup semi-final against Strathmore in Forfar on Sunday.

Captain Gregor Chambers won the toss and opted to bowl first, and the opening spell from Freddie Parffrey and Chambers was tight and sharp, with the Strathmore top order playing and missing numerous times.

Parffrey removed one of the hosts’ openers LBW, and at the 10-over point Strathmore were scoring at a rate of just 2.5 an over.

And though they made steady progress thereafter, Chambers’ bowlers, Rajitha, Darren Butler, Jerry Smith, Jarryd Clancy and Marc Christensen all turned in decent spells and picked up wickets.

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Parffrey did remove one of the openers, lbw, and at the 10 over point Strathmore were only going along at 2.5 an over. From there on though they made steady progress and there was an excellent contest between bat and ball. Chambers rotated his bowlers well, Rajitha, Darren Butler, Jerry Smith, Jarryd Clancy and Marc Christensen all turning in decent spells and picking up wickets. By the time Strathmore had concluded their innings they had reached 198; the champagne moment being a stunning diving catch by ancient wicket keeper Daisy Adams.

The target looked very gettable on a decent batting track, but Helensburgh lost a couple of very quick wickets at the start of their innings.

Clancy and Butler steadied the ship and were going well, putting on 43 for the third wicket and in good time – but a change of pace saw Clancy trapped LBW, and from there on it was a procession of wickets again as Helensburgh collapsed to 62 all out, Butler top scoring with 33.

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Chambers was in rueful mood afterwards, saying: “I can’t fault the effort of the team. We bowled and fielded well today and 198 was definitely an achievable target.

“But again our batting has let us down.

“We’ve done well to reach this stage and Strathmore are a good side and a decent bunch of guys and we wish them well in the final.

“We now have to concentrate though on avoiding relegation.

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“It’s Kelburne at home this weekend then two massive games against Stenhousemuir and Kilmarnock.

“We’ll need to be at our best over the last month of the season.”