2019 season starts this weekend
The 2019 cricket season gets under way this weekend when Greenock play two friendly matches at Glenpark. On Saturday, Renfrew are the visitors and on Sunday, West of Scotland provide the opposition. These matches will allow players an opportunity to get in some important outdoor match practice ahead of the competitive league programme which begins in a couple of weeks.
These two matches are likely to provide a good test for the local side. Renfrew, a Division One side, were for a number of seasons a Premier Division side and will undoubtedly be aiming to make a return to the top level at the end of the summer.
The 'Ferrymen' have had a significant influx of new players since the end of last season with more than a dozen players moving to the club from Weirs CC in Glasgow. But a number of their own club players have also recently transferred out to other clubs in the west district.
West of Scotland are sending a Development XI to Glenpark on Sunday, which will give both clubs the opportunity to play a mix of young players along with some more experienced players.
Greenock's preparations for the new season have been going well, with players using indoors nets on a weekly basis since the end February. But it is outdoors where the real action takes place and players are looking forward to making a start on Saturday.
Neil Flack, one of Greenock's most talented cricketers and also former Scotland Under-19 captain, continues with the captaincy of the 1st XI at Glenpark for a second season and he will be keen to see his side make a strong start to the Premier Division season when it gets under way at the end of April.
In his side for the 2019 season will be two overseas players. Indian professional, Saurabh Bandekar returns to Glenpark for a second season and 20 year old amateur Zac Barrenechea joins the Club from New South Wales in Australia.
However, neither of the two overseas players is available to play this weekend as they are not scheduled to arrive in Greenock until the middle of next week.
Bandekar represented India Under-19s, alongside current national stars Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ishant Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja. He is an accomplished batsman and also a right arm pace bowler and his talents are likely to be a key feature for the local side this season.
Barrenechea is a top order batsman for his side in Australia and he is also a wicketkeeper. He is looking forward to the opportunity to come to Scotland and to gain experience playing in Scottish Premier League cricket and it is hoped he will be able to make a valuable contribution to Greenock's 1st XI during the summer.
This Saturday and Sunday's friendly matches against Renfrew and West of Scotland will provide an early opportunity to get some important practice with both bat and ball.
Team captain Neil Flack will take the opportunity over the weekend to run his eye over a number of players who will undoubtedly feature regularly in the 1st XI during the season. Experienced players Shailesh Prabhu, Jack Griffiths, Sehmat Pandher, Chirag Pandher, Sam Sanghera and Rod Mountford will be among those likely to be involved against Renfrew and West of Scotland.
And players such as Scotland Under-15 international Sean Fischer-Keogh and other up and coming youngsters including Jamie Nowell, Tom Forrest, Lukas Fischer-Keogh, Ewan Stewart, PJ Bryceland and Cammy Calder will very probably be among others who will play in at least one of the matches. However, several of Greenock's experienced 1st XI players will be missing as they are taking the opportunity to travel abroad on holiday this weekend before the competitive season starts.
Others who will very possibly make themselves available to play in one of the weekend matches include the evergreen Peter Robertson, Ali Calder, Dave Sharma, Mark Farrell and Kevin Flack.
Groundsman Stuart MacLean has been working on the ground with a team of assistants since early March and their efforts have got Glenpark into good shape for the new season despite the very variable weather conditions which they have had to work through.
Both matches on Saturday and Sunday will start at 1pm.
Greenock Cricket Club is sponsored this season by Cleaning Supplies 4U.