Pre-season friendlies continue this weekend
Greenock will continue their preparations for the 2019 cricket season this Saturday and Sunday with another two friendly matches at Glenpark following on from last weekend's opening matches. On Saturday, Hillhead provide the opposition and on Sunday, West of Scotland are the visitors. These matches will allow players a further opportunity to get in some more important outdoor match practice ahead of the competitive league programme which begins next week on the last Saturday of April.
The two matches should provide a good workout for the local side. Hillhead play in the WDCU Division 2 and are regular pre-season opposition. The Glasgow side always enjoy their visit to Glenpark and matches are usually well contested.
West of Scotland have a very useful side and, like Greenock, play in the Premier Division, and so both sides will meet again later in the season in a fully competitive situation. Sunday's game will be the last opportunity for both sides to gain match practice before the opening round of league fixtures next weekend.
Greenock's preparations for the new season have been going well with players using indoors nets on a weekly basis since early February and outdoors since the beginning of April. And last weekend, a good number of players got a game on either Saturday or Sunday. While it was good to get the games in, it was far from ideal cricketing conditions with temperatures in only single figures further reduced by a significant wind chill factor.
Neil Flack, one of Greenock's most talented cricketers and also former Scotland Under-19 captain, retains the captaincy of the 1st XI at Glenpark for a second season. Returning to his side for the 2019 season is Saurabh Bandekar a 31 year old professional from India who made a good impression at Glenpark while pro at the Club last summer. Also coming into the side for his first season at Glenpark is 20 year old amateur Zac Barrenechea from near Melbourne, Australia.
Barrenechea arrived in Greenock after his long flight from 'Down Under' on Tuesday evening and he will make his debut against Hillhead on Saturday. But Bandekar will not arrive until next week from his native India after having spent our winter months playing as professional for a side in Victoria State, Australia.
Barrenechea is a top order batsman for his side in Australia and he is also a wicketkeeper. He is relishing 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.
Captaining the Greenock side for a second season, Flack knows that the team will need to play consistently well throughout the summer to maintain its place in the Premier Division. Fixtures against top sides come week after week and there can be no room for any drop in standard of play from the local team.
This weekend's friendly matches will allow Flack to run his eye over a number of Greenock's up and coming young players who will undoubtedly be challenging for places in the 1st XI. 16 year old Sean Fischer-Keogh gained good experience at 1st XI level last summer and became a regular in the side. He is also a regular player in the Scotland Under-15 side and will undoubtedly feature prominently for the Glenpark side this season.
But for the most part, Flack will depend on the group of experienced players who have been the core of the 1st XI in recent seasons. Former 1st XI captains Jonathan Hempsey and Shailesh Prabhu will be regulars alongside Greg McDougall, Chris Hempsey, Sehmat Pander and Sam Sanghera. Other senior players with first team experience and likely to be in the frame include Chirag Pandher, Jack Griffiths and Rod Mountford, but with competition for places likely to be very keen this season, there can be no guarantee of a regular place for any of these players ... and there will be others from the 2nd XI pushing for a place also.
A significant amount of work has been put into the ground, and in particular the cricket square, since the end of the 2018 season, and players and supporters will be keen to see the impact which this work has on play as the season progresses.
Greenock's team for the match against Hillhead on Saturday will be chosen from the following pool of players: ND Flack, Z Barrenechea, C Calder, S Chaudhary, T Forrest, CJK Hempsey, GJ McDougall, RP Mountford, J Nowell, CS Pandher, SS Pandher, SS Prabhu, SS Sanghera, E Stewart. Scorer: R McGregor
A similar squad of players, with a few changes, will provide the pool for the game against West of Scotland on Sunday : ND Flack, Z Barrenechea, C Calder, S Chaudhary, T Forrest, JPC Hempsey, CJK Hempsey, GJ McDougall, J Nowell, CS Pandher, SS Pandher, SS Sanghera, E Stewart. Scorer: R McGregor
The matches on both Saturday and Sunday at Glenpark will start at 1 pm.
Greenock Cricket Club is sponsored this season by Cleaning Supplies 4U.