Another 'must win' game for Greenock
This Saturday afternoon at Glenpark, Greenock entertain Drumpellier in what could be billed as a season defining match for both sides. Greenock lie in second bottom position and Drumpellier in third bottom spot with just six percentage points separating them.
A win for Greenock will lift them above Drumpellier and be a huge confidence booster following on from last weekend's win over East Kilbride. But a loss to the Lanarkshire side would leave the Glenparkers trailing significantly and make the remainder of the Premier Division season a huge uphill struggle.
But Greenock will only be contemplating victory and they have the players to achieve that outcome. Plus, the team will have learned from the matches played in the first half of the season when on a number of occasions they got into winning positions only to let go their grip on the games and hand victory to their opponents.
A further important factor in Greenock's favour is the improved form of a number of players. Neil Flack has grown in confidence in recent weeks after a disappointing start to the season when he was clearly out of touch. Now he seems back to the sort of form where he can build big innings when batting and take wickets when given the ball to bowl.
Last Saturday at East Kilbride, Flack enjoyed an unbeaten 73 run, match-winning partnership with Saurabh Bandekar, scoring 37 runs himself and finishing off the match with a towering six hit high over the bowler's head into the distant trees at Torrance House. Earlier too, he had removed two of the most dangerous EK batsmen during his spell of bowling.
Indian professional, Bandekar, has been Greenock's most consistent performer in the matches to date and he is currently the leading run scorer across the Premier Division with 323 runs and also second top wicket-taker with 23 wickets. More of the same in the remaining matches of the second half of the league programme will be a major factor in Greenock's fight for survival in the top division. First things first though and runs and wickets from Bandekar on Saturday against Drumpellier will bring cheers from the Glenpark support.
Greenock's overseas amateur, Zac Barrenechea, has been finding form with the bat during the month of June and his runs at the top of the order are important in giving the Greenock innings a positive impetus from which others can push on.
In the match at Langloan in early May, Jonathan Hempsey gained his best bowling figures to date taking 4 wickets for just 24 runs and a return to that sort of form would be welcomed by the player and team.
That match at Drumpellier's home ground is one which the bowlers will wish to remember but batsmen forget. Greenock bowled out the Lanarkshire side for just 54 but then had the mother of all batting collapses and finished four runs short to lose a game which seemed a sure fire win. The players will be doubly determined to win on Saturday and erase that first match of the season from their memories.
Visitors, Drumpellier, have gained just two wins in matches completed to date in the Premier Division, the one against Greenock and the second against bottom side East Kilbride. Drumpellier have lost the other five matches completed and only picked up bonus points in two of these which indicates that they have been soundly beaten in the other three. And last Saturday, had rain not intervened and caused the match to be abandoned, Drumpellier looked likely to lose heavily to their near neighbours and current league leaders, Uddingston, in the match played at Langloan, Coatbridge.
Greenock on the other hand, while only managing one win to date, have pick up 31 bonus points and have been competitive in all of their Premier Division matches this season.
Drumpellier will probably depend very heavily on their Sri Lankan professional Gayan Maneeshan. He has had a couple of good scores during the month of June with 66 against Poloc and 53 against Clydesdale but other than the pro there have been few others who have made any meaningful contributions with the bat.
On the bowling front, Dale Pryde and Zeeshan Aziz have been the Drumps team's main threat with the ball, but between them they have taken a total of just 19 wickets in the seven Premier Division matches played.
However, these two players are not the only bowlers the Langloan team have at their disposal. Humza Sabri, Josh Allison, Alistair Rawlinson and Willie Leslie are others to whom they can turn in their bowling attack. And it was Rawlinson who did the damage to the Greenock batting line-up back in May. He took 5 wickets for just 12 runs as the local side so dramatically collapsed on that occasion.
However, Rawlinson has not played for Drumpellier since that game and Greenock will be hoping he does not make his return at Glenpark !!
But Greenock are ready for the Drumpellier test on Saturday, and with the win at East Kilbride last weekend, the confidence of the players in the team has been lifted and the momentum is now with the local side.
So Saturday's match against Drumpellier is a massive one for Greenock. A win will give Greenock a huge boost in their quest to retain their place in the Premier Division but a loss will leave the team with a huge task in the remainder of the league programme.
Greenock's team for the match, which will start at 12 noon, has yet to be finalised but is likely to be chosen from a squad of thirteen.
The Glenpark XI travel to Glasgow on Saturday to take on the Bees (Clydesdale's fourth team), buoyed by last week's win over Glasgow South. When the two teams met earlier in the season, Glenpark were well beaten by their youthful opponents and they know they will face a tough task in the return game. The final team selection for the game will depend on who plays for the 1st XI but will likely be chosen from a squad of fourteen, depending on availability. This match will start at 1pm.
The Hillend XI travel to Gourock Park on Sunday to play Inverclyde for the Bell Cup, the match starting at 1pm.
Greenock Cricket Club is sponsored this season by Cleaning Supplies 4U.