Forfarshire have been hit badly hit by the weather, but remain unbeaten on league duty, Arbroath have chalked up some notable scalps, including a win over Aberdeenshire, which included a splendid hundred from Fraser Burnett. And then there is Stoneywood-Dyce, one of those precious organisations whose hard-working officials have ensured life is sweet for the players of Peoples Park.
The last-named club have recorded back-to-back victories over Uddingston and Clydesdale, perhaps reflecting the poor start to the campaign by the majority of the teams from the west of the country, and their personnel are already licking their lips at the prospect of what will be a significant local derby with Aberdeenshire at Mannofield this weekend.
A few years ago, the hosts would have been regarded as clear favourites in advance of this fixture, but such is the progress made by Stoneywood-Dyce’s captain, George Ninan, and his invigorating blend of talented youngsters and been-there-done-that senior campaigners, that this contest should be close and may even develop into a classic.
Ninan says: "The start has been mixed for us. We didn’t click for the first match (against the unbeaten league leaders, Carlton), and the weather didn’t go our way against Forfarshire when we had the advantage at half-time, with the game being abandoned. But we have turned things round well with wins over two well-established Premiership sides and these results have just re-emphasised our belief in our skills.
"Aberdeenshire are a very good side with experienced batters and bowlers. They have been in the Premiership for a few seasons now and are a settled team. We have had a number of encounters against each other over the past few years, and it is all about executing our plans correctly on the day.
"We have had the same core of first XI players for the last few seasons, with a very good mix of youth and experience, and right through last summer and into this year, a lot of different players have put their hand up and taken responsibility to get the job done. This weekend, we have Gordon Goudie back from his Scotland commitments to add to our seam bowling attack of [former Saltire] Jan Stander, Elton Willemse and Scott Redhead, and we are looking forward to this match."
That pace battle promises to be intriguing, with Goudie and Stander seeking to gain ascendancy over their opponents’ thus far vulnerable top order, while Tyler Buchan and Chris West will be equally determined to maintain the momentum which has already brought them a clutch of wickets.
And although Stoneywood-Dyce would relish being able to call on the services of their best-known player - Kyle Coetzer, who recently struck a superb century for Durham against the Saltires - there is sufficient potential in both line-ups for each club to feel confident they can seize the initiative when it matters.
It’s too early to describe any contest as being a "must-win" game, but Buchan’s players need to regain some lost momentum, whereas Stoneywood-Dyce have cannily refused to set themselves over-ambitious targets, prior to slugging it out with the big boys. "Our goals are to use our home advantage against sides travelling from the south, and get a few of the away results to go our way as well," says Ninan, whose pragmatic philosophy has been a pivotal influence in his men’s rise to prominence.
"This way, we will give ourselves the best chance before the league splits (into four sections, once all 16 clubs have played each other once) and we can re-assess our goals at that stage."
If the rain stays out of the picture, it should be a cracker, and one suspects that the likes of Stander and Goudie will relish the opportunity to demonstrate their ability against their local rivals. Stoneywood-Dyce might not be the most high-profile organisation in the country, but quietly, methodically, they have flourished through creating a splendid youth development structure and their success has been built on solid foundations. No wonder the north-east can claim to be the most talented region in Scotland at the moment.
Mommsen shines as Saltires slump again
The Saltires suffered their seventh consecutive defeat in the CB 40 competition against Northamptonshire last weekend, but there was yet another reminder of the class of Preston Mommsen, who struck an unbeaten 81, to add to his tally of fine knocks in the tournament, as the Scots briefly threatened to break their duck, assisted by decent displays from Gregor Maiden, Matty Parker and Gordon Drummond. Mommsen has been the star of the Saltires’ batting to date and this from a man who left South Africa, frustrated at that country’s quota system. Their loss is definitely Scotland’s gain.
Neil Drysdale wants to give Scotland’s clubs a platform for their developments, activities and emerging players. To get in touch, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org