Greenock look to bounce back after last week's collapse
Greenock travel to the west end of Glasgow this Saturday to meet West of Scotland at Hamilton Crescent in their second Premier Division fixture of the 2019 season and will be seeking to put behind them the spectacular batting collapse which led to their defeat against Drumpellier last weekend.
The local team had been in total command of the match, and in a seemingly unassailable position, until the game turned upside down as wickets tumbled in disastrous fashion.
The Glenpark team have been taking stock in the aftermath of the Drumpellier match and during this week have been working hard to prepare for Saturday's encounter with West.
Low scores and batting collapses happen to the best of teams in cricket. Even to international sides. Pakistan, one of the current world's top six ODI sides, were bowled out for just 43 runs against West Indies in 1993 and India, the current second top ODI international side, for 54 against Sri Lanka in 2000. In total, there have been fifteen international ODI scores of under 60. So such results happen at the very top level too.
Team captain, Neil Flack, is keen for his team to focus on the first class bowling performance from last week's match and so go into the game with West in positive fashion. "At Drumps we put in a really first class bowling performance, and as well as Saurabh (Bandekar) and Jono (Jonathan Hempsey) hitting the stumps several times, we also took a number of chances which came our way. A repeat of those skills when in the field is what we will look to replicate at Hamilton Crescent."
Bandekar and Hempsey will once again be the lead bowlers in the Greenock attack with Sean Fischer-Keogh, Sam Sanghera, Flack and Greg McDougall the others who will provide further bowling back up. In season 2018 Bandekar took a total of 20 wickets in the WDCU Premier Division and Hempsey 15 wickets. Both got off to a fine start to the 2019 season last Saturday with 4 wickets apiece.
Flack also picked up a wicket at Langloan, and as the top wicket-taker in the Premier Division last summer, he will be looking to add to his tally on Saturday.
But as last week's match showed quite dramatically, it is scoring runs which ultimately will win matches. And Greenock have players who are well capable of building big scores. Last Saturday was just 'one of those days' when it all went wrong.
Indian professional, Bandekar, is a player whose batting credentials suggest that he will score well for Greenock during the season, and a good innings at Hamilton Crescent on Saturday would be a boost to the Glenpark team.
Aussie amateur Zac Barranechea has shown that he is a capable opening batsman. He was building an innings which would surely have taken Greenock to a deserved win last weekend at Drumpellier, only to be needlessly run out. 'Barra' will top the order on Saturday, but with opening batting partner Shailesh Prabhu unavailable due to work commitments, team captain Neil Flack will need to carefully consider who will join him to open the Greenock innings.
Also missing due to work commitments are two others from last weekend's XI , Chris Hempsey and Chirag Pandher. Into the side to replace them come Sean Fischer-Keogh, Rod Mountford and Ewan Stewart.
Fischer-Keogh is one of Greenock best young prospects in recent years and his cricketing ability has already caught the eye of national selectors. Last Season he played for Scotland's Under-15 team and is now in the Under-17 Squad. His availability this weekend is a welcome boost for the Greenock side and it is likely he will be an important addition to the bowling attack.
Mountford is an experienced player who will likely bat in the lower order while Stewart comes into the side on the back of a good innings last weekend. A further change sees Jamie Nowell take the place of Tom Forrest.
Neil Flack will almost certainly occupy the number three position in the batting order, and with a total of 399 runs in the Premier Division in 2018 at an average of almost 31 runs per innings and a top score or 119, he is a batsman with real ability and from whom the team will look to for a valuable contribution when he gets out to the middle.
Jonathan Hempsey too is a capable batsman, and last season at Hamilton Crescent against West of Scotland top scored for the team with an excellent innings of 70.
West of Scotland for their part got their Premier Division league season off to a winning start with a 32 run victory over newly promoted East Kilbride last weekend. Lucas Farndale top scored with 46 runs in the Glasgow side's total of 174 all out.
The matches between the two teams last season were both good high scoring games but with West just coming out on top on each occasion. The game at Glenpark in July was particularly close with West just getting over the line with nine wickets down and getting the winning run from the last ball of the 50th and final over of the innings.
Two Greenock players stood out in this game. Saurabh Bandekar compiled a fine innings of 80 and Neil Flack took 5 wickets for 32 runs.
It was a match which was widely significant, as it led to the WDCU reviewing the points system for this season. Last year Greenock gained zero points despite losing the match on the very last ball with West 9 wickets down, and with all three results possible when the final delivery was bowled. This season, the same result would bring 9 points.
The match on Saturday will start at the usual time of 12 noon.
The Glenpark XI will also be looking for better fortunes this Saturday when they welcome Galloway 2nd XI to Glenpark. Last Saturday they ran up against a Bees eleven which was full of youthful promise, and after a reasonable show with the bat were unable to make any breakthrough with the ball. This week's opponents, never having played Glenpark before now, will represent a new experience for the locals. They have played twice season, losing one match and drawing the other and skipper Ally Calder will see this as an opportunity to get some points on the board. This match starts at 1pm.
Greenock Cricket Club is sponsored this season by Cleaning Supplies 4U.