Greenock need batsmen to come good
Greenock host Ayrshire side Prestwick at Glenpark on Saturday afternoon and will be hoping that their latest fixture of this season's Premier Division league programme will bring good fortune after the disappointments associated with the two completed league fixtures against Drumpellier and West of Scotland.
Prestwick sit proudly at the top of the Premier Division table with two wins from two matches played. They are also past winners of the Premier Division title (2017) and will be a difficult side for Greenock to overcome.
Last weekend, Prestwick gained a fine win over bottom side East Kilbride scoring an impressive 243 for the loss of 8 wickets with the Lanarkshire side mounting a decent reply of 187 all out. Fraser Macdonald scored a very fine 112 as he provided the key innings for his team as they built their match-winning score.
Two weeks ago against Poloc, Prestwick opened their league season with a win over the Glasgow side at Shawholm. But it was not an easy victory, despite Poloc only managing 68 all out. Prestwick struggled with the bat and only just got the win with seven wickets down. Macdonald was once again their key batsman with 38 vital runs.
In the bowling department there is little doubt where the major strength lies. Sachin Chaudhary, formerly professional with Irvine CC, is a hugely important player for Prestwick. In the match against Poloc he took 5 wickets for just 12 runs and last Saturday against East Kilbride was once again the pick of the Prestwick attack with 4 wickets for 27 runs.
Notwithstanding Prestwick's impressive start to the league campaign, Greenock could, and should, have been sitting side by side the Ayrshire club at the top of the table, as both of their opening games ought to have been won. Only catastrophic batting late in both games has denied the locals of that position.
In the field, they have put in two impressive bowling displays to dismiss opponents Drumpellier and West of Scotland for what must be considered low scores from which matches would, in most circumstances, be won quite comfortably.
Saurabh Bandekar, Greenock's professional from India, has begun his second season at Glenpark in fine style. In just two Premier Division matches he has notched up a total of ten wickets including a six wicket haul at West of Scotland last Saturday.
Bandekar's ten wickets in two games represents over a third of the total wickets he took (28) in ALL of last season's Premier Division matches, and Greenock supporters will be hoping he can continue this rich vein of bowling form in the weeks ahead.
His opening bowling partner, Jonathan Hempsey, has had a successful two games too. Four wickets against Drumpellier was followed by three more against West and, like Bandekar, Hempsey has captured a third of the total wickets he took in all WDCU Premier matches in 2018 (20)
More of the same from these two spearheading Greenock's bowling attack will keep giving the team chances to win matches and it is important that the batsmen step up to the mark and takes advantage of such opportunities.
Neil Flack, who was last season's WDCU Premier Division top wicket-taker with 32 wickets, has had little to do with the ball so far this season so dominant have Bandekar and Hempsey been, but has still picked up a wicket in each match. Unfortunately, Flack is missing from the side this weekend and it is likely that Chris Hempsey will be given the role of captain the side against Prestwick.
Sean Fischer-Keogh is gaining in experience and could be an important change bowler for the Glenpark team. He has developed considerable pace in his bowling and is certainly a young player to watch. Already he has played for Scotland at the Under 15 age group and is now part of the Scotland Under 17 cricket squad.
Others who will be likely to be called upon in the bowling line-up include Sam Sanghera, Greg McDougall and Rod Mountford.
However, it is the team batting performance which must turn up on Saturday if Greenock are to gain the win which much of their play so far this season has deserved. Runs on the board will be the factor which will gain the points.
Greenock have the players to overcome Prestwick, but they need to show confidence in their own abilities. Cricket is a sport where the game can turn quickly in favour of one team or another in the space of just one or two balls. A wicket or a boundary can be enough to suddenly alter the balance of play. If Greenock can show resilience and confidence, then a win against Prestwick is quite definitely on this Saturday.
Greenock have yet to finalise their team for the match which will start at the usual time of 12 noon but it is likely to show few changes from that which played last Saturday with Chris Hempsey, available again, replacing Neil Flack.
The Glenpark XI travel to Kilmarnock to take on the Kirkstyle XI, buoyed by last week's emphatic win over Galloway 2nd XI. Their selection will be close to last week's winning team although Peter Hempsey and Kevin Flack will definitely be missing but the ever-dependable Dave Sharma looks to make his first appearance of the season.
Greenock Cricket Club is sponsored this season by Cleaning Supplies 4U.