Greenock still seek elusive first league win
Greenock welcome Clydesdale to Glenpark on Saturday as they seek to gain their first Premier Division win of the 2019 season. It will be no easy task however as the Glasgow club has a strong player base and has been one of the top sides in Scotland in recent years.
The Glenpark side has played well in parts of each of the three Premier Division matches completed to date, but without being able to record a win. If they can put together a good all round team performance then a very competitive match should entertain spectators on Saturday afternoon.
Much may depend on Indian professional, Saurabh Bandekar. He has made a good start to his second season at Glenpark with both bat and ball. In the three Premier Division matches he has taken 13 wickets and scored a total of 123 runs with 84 of these against Premier Division leaders Prestwick last Saturday.
But Bandekar cannot win the match on his own. Others in the team need to step up and support the pro by displaying the skills and abilities which they undoubtedly have. But these have simply not been on show sufficiently well to allow the team to gain wins which could and, in at least a couple of cases, should have been gained from the matches played so far in this season's Premier Division.
Greenock's batting line-up has the capability of putting together large scores which could win matches. Players such as team captain Neil Flack, Aussie amateur Zac Barranechea, Chris and Jonathan Hempsey all have the experience to occupy the crease and build solid partnerships. And partnerships are the key to building large scores.
Too few decent partnerships and the loss of bunches of wickets during the innings have been Greenock's major problems so far this season. These are problems which team captain Neil Flack, along with newly appointed team coach Phil McIntosh, will be focused on this weekend and in the weeks ahead.
Last Saturday against Prestwick, Greenock's bowling attack made little impact against the Ayrshire side and the league leaders had a fairly comfortable passage to win the match.
But in the previous two Premier Division matches against Drumpellier and West of Scotland, the bowlers were in top form and looked to have set up the team for a win on both occasions, only for the batting to let the side down each time.
Bandekar's opening bowling partner Jonathan Hempsey suffered a foot injury against Prestwick last Saturday and is struggling to be fit to play against Clydesdale. He missed out on both midweek cup matches and his omission would be a blow to the Glenpark side if he is unable to recover in time for Saturday's match.
Should Hempsey miss the match on Saturday, then it is likely young pace bowler Sean Fischer-Keogh will join Bandekar at the head of the bowling attack. Fischer-Keogh is gaining in experience all the time and has the potential to become a really first class pace bowler. He broke through into the 1st XI during the 2018 season and has progressed well.
Greg McDougall and Sam Sanghera will be a couple of others who will be called upon in the bowling line-up and Neil Flack, who was the Premier Division top wicket-taker in 2018, will be keen to add to his tally for this season.
Opponents Clydesdale, have played just two out of four of their Premier Division matches due to weather cancellations And last Saturday at East Kilbride was one of those washed out. But in the two played, Clydesdale have a 100% record having won against Poloc and Stirling County.
At Titwood two weeks ago, the Glasgow club chased down their near neighbours, Poloc, score of 200 with former Greenock player Richie Berrington starring with 82 runs and three wickets. Berrington, who is one of the Scottish international cricket team's senior players, would have been Clydesdale's major threat on Saturday but he sustained a broken finger in a match a couple of weeks ago and is likely to be out for around four weeks. He missed last weekend's international against Sri Lanka.
The importance of Berrington to the Clydesdale team was highlighted when they played at Stirling County and he was unavailable due to international duty. They were bowled out for just 98 with eight of their batting line-up scoring a total of just five runs among them. Despite that, however, the Titwood team did manage to bowl out Stirling County for a meagre 71 runs and returned home with maximum points.
Last season, Greenock reserved their best performances for matches against the top sides in the Premier Division and the local team was the only one to gain a win over Ferguslie who were the 2018 Champions. A top performance against Clydesdale would certainly cheer the Glenpark faithful.
Work commitments and injuries may well impact on Greenock's team selection for Saturday with Shailesh Prabhu and Chirag Pandher definitely unavailable and two or three others trying to shrug off injuries sustained in recent matches.
The match will start at the usual time of 12 noon.
The Glenpark XI make the 'long' journey to Gourock to play Inverclyde looking for their second win of the season. Being a local derby, the game is sure to be keenly contested. Their current team selection may well be affected by how many players pull out of the 1st XI due to injury.
Greenock Cricket Club is sponsored this season by Cleaning Supplies 4U.