A look ahead to the 2019 season
Greenock begin the 2019 season with four friendly matches, spread across two weekends, before competitive cricket gets under way on Saturday 27 April with the first Premier Division match against East Kilbride at Glenpark.
Weather permitting, the season will begin on Saturday 13 April when Greenock play host to Renfrew at Glenpark and on Sunday 14 April a West Of Scotland CC Development XI will provide the opposition for another early season match at Glenpark. The following weekend sees the 1st XI play two more friendlies against Hillhead and West of Scotland.
Assisting the team for the coming season will be two overseas players, 31 year old professional, Saurabh Bandekar from Goa in India, who returns to Glenpark after a successful season with the club last summer, and 20 year old amateur Zac Barrenechea from New South Wales in Australia.
In his early career, Bandekar represented India Under-19s alongside current national stars Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ishant Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja. He is an accomplished batsman who is also a right arm pace bowler and his talents will be a key feature for Greenock this season.
Bandekar has played top level state cricket in India for Goa and has also played in the very high profile Indian Premier League for Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore. He made his first class debut in 2015 and played more than 140 domestic matches, across the three formats of T20, one day 50 over matches and four day state cricket, scoring 3,000 plus runs and taking 250 plus wickets, including 3 hundreds and 8 five wicket hauls in his career playing at the top levels of Indian cricket.
In 2018, Saurabh made a slow start to his first season in Scotland, but, after acclimatising, he became a key player for Greenock as the club fought hard and successfully retained their Premier Division status.
Barrenechea is a top order batsman and wicketkeeper for his side New City in the Albury Wodonga First Provincial League in New South Wales, where Bandekar spent the winter playing. He is relishing the opportunity to come to Scotland and to gain experience playing in Scottish Premier League cricket. It is hoped he will be able to make a valuable contribution to Greenock's 1st XI during the summer.
Greenock will again play in the Premier Division of the Western District Cricket Union this summer, after last season's successful fight to retain their place in the top league, and so local supporters can look forward once again to the team playing against old rivals such as Clydesdale, Poloc, Uddingston, West of Scotland and 2018 champions Ferguslie. The Glenpark faithful can also look forward to tussles with newly promoted Drumpellier and East Kilbride as well as matches against 2017 champions Prestwick and Stirling County.
Greenock will require to perform to a high standard throughout the season to ensure their place in the Premier Division. It will not be an easy task, but there is no lack of optimism within the team, and the players have been training indoors on a weekly basis since February while outdoors training will begin in the week ahead.
The pre-competitive season fixtures in mid-April will provide opportunities for the players to get some valuable match practice prior to that first competitive game of the season against East Kilbride.
As well as 1st XI cricket, Greenock will also be putting out two further senior sides, the Saturday Glenpark (2nd) XI and Sunday Hillend (Development) XI. The former will play in the Western Union Fourth Division after their unfortunate relegation last season and will be very keen to start the climb back up the league structure with a promotion winning campaign while the latter will play various friendly matches during the season in order to give young players the opportunity of playing alongside some of the more experienced players at the Club.
Junior cricket for boys and girls is a very important part of cricket at Glenpark and from early May onwards, age group cricket for Under-11s, Under-14s and Under-16s will be a major feature on Monday and Friday evenings right through the summer.
The success of junior coaching at the Club can be demonstrated by the national and district level recognition achieved by players such as 1st XI captain Neil Flack who led the Under-19 Scotland team at the 2016 Under-19 cricket World Cup in Bangladesh, current Under-17 Scottish international Sean Fischer-Keogh and Jamie Nowell, Tom Forrest and Lukas Fischer-Keogh who have all played at age group levels with the Western District Junior Cricket Union.
Other up and coming young players include Ewan Stewart, who has already had considerable 1st XI experience, and Cammy Calder, PJ Bryceland, Aryan Sanghera and Liam McCahill who should feature in the Glenpark XI during the season. Also likely to make appearances in that team will be Emily Norris who has been training with the Scottish Ladies Under-17 squad throughout the winter months and Amelia Calder who is another young Greenock girl with great promise.
The Club is always on the lookout for new players for senior cricket and anyone interested is invited to come along to training sessions at Glenpark on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the summer.