Greenock head to Coatbridge for first league game
Weather permitting, Greenock will get their 2019 Premier Division season started this Saturday when they make the journey through to Coatbridge to meet newly promoted Drumpellier at the Lanarkshire club's Langloan ground.
Last Saturday only one Premier Division fixture survived the wet weather which swept across much of the west of Scotland and that was at Bothwell Policies where Greenock's weekend opponents were very heavily defeated by the home side Uddingston.
Drumpellier batted first and scored 136 for the loss of 7 wickets in a weather reduced innings of 45 overs. Uddingston were then set a total of 145 to win by the Duckworth Lewis Stern system and wasted no time in achieving the win by scoring the runs in just 26 overs with Mo Awais in outstanding form for Uddingston scoring 113 not out.
Greenock will therefore be meeting a side which has had the advantage of some competitive game time but also one which will be smarting from a quite comprehensive defeat. Greenock must try and apply some early pressure on Drumps and not allow them any opportunity to bounce back from what was a serious drubbing.
With very little game time so far, and not one where anything approaching a proper 1st XI has played, Greenock will need to hit the ground running on Saturday if they are to get the result which all at Glenpark will be looking for ... a win from their opening league fixture.
Leading the side for a second season is Neil Flack. He is a talented cricketer, who for the most part of his career, and he is still only in his early 20, has been recognised as a very useful top order batsman. But Flack has developed into more than just a player who can score runs. He topped the WDCU Premier Division wicket-taking table last season and more of the same would be a real benefit for his team in summer 2019.
Spearheading the Greenock bowling attack will be Indian professional Saurabh Bandekar who is back at Glenpark for a second season. He is a right arm pace bowler and in his first season playing in the west of Scotland he gradually got used to the conditions and picked up 20 wickets from matches played in the Premier Division. He will be keen to better that figure this summer.
Jonathan Hempsey may be a candidate to join Bandekar opening the bowling attack and in the one game which he has played so far this season he picked up three wickets against a good West of Scotland side in a friendly at Glenpark a couple of weeks ago.
Others who may feature with the ball on Saturday are Sam Sanghera, Greg McDougall, Chirag and Sehmat Pandher, Ewan Stewart and of course team captain, Neil Flack. Whoever is called upon to bowl must focus, concentrate and bowl a good length and line and not allow the Drumpellier batsmen to get on top.
Taking wickets is one aspect of the game of cricket which can win matches, another is scoring runs. On paper, Greenock have a batting line-up which appears strong with many players capable of scoring significant runs. Just a few of them doing so on Saturday could well be the means by which Greenock return to Glenpark with maximum points.
New arrival from Australia, Zac Barrenechea is a wicket-keeper/batsman who provided an early indication against West of Scotland that he has the potential to do well with the bat. He compiled an innings of 38 runs in the friendly with a fine array of shots for so early in the season.
Shailesh Prabhu may well partner Barrenechea at the top of the order, as he is an experienced opener and he too has had a useful innings to his credit from the friendly match against Hillhead.
In the middle order of the batting line-up will be Bandekar, Flack, and Chris and Jonathan Hempsey, all of whom are capable of building good personal innings and partnerships.
Bandekar is a noted batsman who has played top class cricket in the sub-continent and amassed over three thousands from First class, T20 and one day List A games played in his home country.
Neil Flack scored one run short of four hundred runs in the Premier Division in 2018 and is undoubtedly one of Greenock's key players with the bat as he demonstrated last season with 119 against Clydesdale and 76 against Ferguslie.
If these four top order players can find some early season form, then Greenock will almost certainly find themselves in a strong position on Saturday. But it cannot be left to just these players to put runs on the board. Others must be willing to show some determination to spend some time at the crease if the opportunity arises and play for the team and build a winning total.
Greenock's team for the match which will start at 12noon shows the one change from that selected for last week's match with Greg McDougall replacing Rod Mountford who is unavailable.
The Glenpark XI play their first game of the season on Saturday when they welcome Bees, who are Clydesdale's third eleven, to Glenpark. Their selected team is close to that for last week's cancelled match but included in the team is the 'Peter Pan' of Greenock, Peter Robertson, who is embarking on his umpteenth season of senior cricket at Glenpark, where umpteen is a very big number.
On Sunday afternoon the Hillend XI entertain Torrance Community CC for a friendly fixture at Glenpark with a 1pm start.
Greenock Cricket Club is sponsored this season by Cleaning Supplies 4U.