Greenock look to maintain recent good form
On Saturday afternoon, Greenock will look to continue their good form of the past two weeks when third placed West of Scotland are their opponents at Glenpark. The Glasgow side are having a fine season but the Glenparkers will be feeling confident that they can put a dent in their progress.
And another win for Greenock could mean a further move up the Premier Division league table taking the local team in to a more comfortable position above the relegation placings.
Last Saturday, with the Glenpark ground in quite splendid condition and the weather warm and sunny, Greenock produced their best batting performance of the season, scoring 232 runs for the loss of just five wickets. Opponents Drumpellier had no answer to Greenock's large total when they batted after the tea interval, and the local side won by almost one hundred runs to leapfrog their Lanarkshire opponents and move out of the bottom two league spots.
Prominent in last Saturday's win were Indian professional Saurabh Bandekar and Jack Griffiths, who were in great form with the bat, and Neil Flack who headed up the team's bowling performance.
Bandekar scored 93 and just missed out on his first century for the Club. But his innings was the backbone of the team's top score of the season to date, and if he can occupy the crease once again for an extended period against West, then Greenock will almost certainly be in a very competitive position.
The pro was well supported during his innings by both Rod Mountford (29) and Jack Griffiths (61 not out). The former built a partnership with Bandekar which steadied the innings after the loss of three quite early wickets and the latter, along with Bandekar, then dominated the Drumpellier bowling and took Greenock past the 200 runs mark.
Neil Flack, who was the Premier Division's leading wicket-taker in season 2018, was in top form taking four important wickets and set the team on a path to victory after the tea interval.
Saturday's opponents, West of Scotland, are likely to provide a much sterner test than Drumpellier. The Glasgow side have had an excellent season so far having played nine matches and won eight to put themselves in a title chasing position.
But Greenock could possibly have gained a win earlier in the season when the sides met at Hamilton Crescent. On that occasion, Greenock bowled out the Glasgow side for just 116 runs and had a win very much within their sights. However, it was not to be as a poor batting performance allowed West to gain the win.
The Hamilton Crescent club have been improving season on season in recent times. Just two years ago the team was playing in the First Division and only made the return to playing in the Premier Division last summer having topped Division One in season 2017.
West have been fortunate in gaining a number of new players during this period and their side has been significantly strengthened as a result. Since this season has started, they have acquired the services of South African, Rory Kleinveldt, who is the brother-in-law of Ferguslie's coach, Riyaad Henry, as their professional. Kleinveldt has played Test cricket for his country and was a very successful player in English county cricket with Northants.
He has been in fine form for the team since joining up. In seven innings he has scored 255 runs at an average of 43 runs, and as a medium-fast bowler, has picked up a total of 12 wickets.
Two other recent recruits to the West cause have been opening batsman David Baithwaite and bowler Kieran Chance, both of whom have produced strong performances in recent weeks.
Others who have contributed to West's excellent form this season include team captain Ian Young, James Fennah, Lucas Farndale and Johnny Williams. Fennah and Farndale have been regular wicket-takers for the team while Williams is their highest individual innings batsman with 62 runs scored against Stirling County towards the end of June.
And of course, there is Gavin Smith who ripped through the Greenock batting in the game at Hamilton Crescent in May taking 7 wickets for just 15 runs and more or less single-handedly winning the game for West.
While Smith has not repeated that sort of form in any of the Premier Division games since then, he has nevertheless added a further ten wickets to his tally and he is currently the fourth highest wicket taker in the competition.
But Greenock can more than match West players in the Premier Division batting and bowling statistics rankings. Saurabh Bandekar is way out on his own as the leading run-scorer with 416 runs 'in the bank' and he is also the second top wicket-taker with 24 already to his credit. And others from the Glenpark side are up there too in the rankings with Zac Barranechea, Neil Flack and Jack Griffiths in prominent positions.
West will be wary of their visit to Glenpark, as they will aware of Greenock's improved form over the last couple of weekends, and also any slip ups will be likely to seriously affect any aspirations they may have for challenging for the Premier Division title.
So this Saturday's match against West of Scotland is a big deal for both teams. But for Greenock. a win will give them the opportunity to move another placing up the Premier Division league table.
Greenock's team for the match, which will start at 12 noon, is probably the strongest that has been fielded all season with a full availability to choose from.
The Glenpark XI make the long journey to Dumfriesshire to play Galloway 2nd XI at their picturesque ground at Gatehouse on Fleet on Saturday afternoon. Having won their last two league games and on the back of defeating their opponents quite comfortably when they met earlier in the season at Glenpark, the team will be confident of returning home with the win points. The team selection for the game is strengthened by the inclusion of Greg McDougall and Ewan Stewart who have been playing for the 1st XI. This match will start at 1pm.
The Hillend XI have a friendly match with Helensburgh on Sunday, the match starting at 1pm.
Greenock Cricket Club is sponsored this season by Cleaning Supplies 4U.