Greenock face tough task against league-leaders Clydesdale

Fresh from their first Premier Division win of the season last weekend, Greenock pitch up this Saturday afternoon at Glenpark against league leaders Clydesdale. The match will be a top versus bottom encounter with Greenock hoping to create what, for many, would be a surprise win over the league leaders.

To do so, the Glenpark team will have to manage without Neil Flack, their top player and leading run scoring batsman who is unavailable due to work commitments.

Flack, who was captain of the Scotland cricket Under-19 World Cup team in 2016, has had a terrific start to the season and has scored over two hundred runs in the four matches he has played. His top score to date is 87 not out against Langside and his average is 68.

Also missing due to work commitments is Flack's opening batting partner Jamie Nowell. Last Saturday the pair put on 81 runs for the first wicket and the previous Saturday at Dumfries, when Flack was again unavailable, Nowell and Shailesh Prabhu enjoyed an opening stand of 67 runs.

So with both Flack and Nowell unavailable, Greenock will have to find a new opening partnership.

Prabhu and Harry Briggs may be the pair to whom skipper Greg McDougall looks to do the job. Prabhu was a regular opening batsman for the team for a number of seasons and is experienced in the position and Harry Briggs, coming in at number three last Saturday, played a defiant, arguably match-winning role for the team, as he batted for over 70 balls for his 27 not out.

Availability of players week on week is a problem for Greenock, and other sides too, as work commitments, injuries and other issues impact on them. This Saturday, as well as Flack and Nowell being out, Greenock will be missing Chirag and Sehmet Pandher and Harry Weld-Forester.

League leaders Clydesdale are the only unbeaten team in the Premier Division. They have four wins from the four matches which they have completed. Last Saturday, the Titwood team were in a very commanding position against Langside, when rainfall of biblical proportions caused the abandonment of the match at Albert Park in Glasgow and possibly a fifth consecutive league win for the leaders.

The Clydesdale club have a large pool of players available and usually can field a strong, all round performing team. But they are probably not invincible. In their matches against Uddingston and Dumfries, the Titwood team bowled their opponents out for under 150 runs on each occasion but then made heavy weather of the run chase.

And against Prestwick, the Clydesdale batters were themselves bowled out for under 150 runs before their bowling attack rescued the occasion by dismissing the Ayrshire side for less than 120.

However two weeks ago, against West of Scotland at Titwood, the Clydesdale side scored over 200 runs for the first time in an innings this season, and then won the match by keeping West to just 179 for the loss of 9 wickets at the end of their allotted 50 overs.

So it is their bowling which is perhaps their main weapon, with Calum Drummond, Arun Krishna and Daniel Cairns the usual front three in the attack. Two others who could be a danger to Greenock, if they are available to play on Saturday, are Kasim Farid and Scottish international Richie Berrington.

Farid with 5 wickets for 27 runs against Dumfries has shown that he is a player to be watched and former Greenock player, Berrington, is a highly experienced all rounder.

The top three in the Clydesdale batting line-up have largely failed to fire so far in the season. Until the game with West two weeks ago Paddy Barbour with 17 runs against Dumfries had been the highest scorer among the three. But then Craig Young, who had failed to score against either Uddingston and Dumfries, came good with 81.

Greenock will hope that their opening pace attack of Sean Fischer-Keogh and Gregor Chambers can put the Clydesdale top order in disarray once again and then make in-roads with the middle order. If that can happen, then the Glanparkers will be very much in the match.

Berrington, if he plays against his former team-mates, could be very influential in the outcome. With over 200 international caps, he will be the most experienced player on the field at Glenpark. He is a capable bowler and potential match-winner with the bat, but the Greenock players will be sure to do their best to keep him out of the limelight.

With confidence lifted after last week's victory over West, Greenock will be keen to repeat that winning performance. But with numerous players unavailable due to work and injury, and to do so without Flack, who offers runs and wickets, the players who turn out on Saturday will have to be on their best form to dislodge the league leaders.

With the number of player absences this week, Skipper Greg McDougall will again have to juggle his resources from the selected team for the match, which will start at the usual time of 12 noon.

The Glenpark (2nd) XI are away again on Saturday afternoon but don't have far to travel as their opponents are local rivals Inverclyde for their Third Division match starting at 1pm. After last week's disappointing loss to Ardencaple, skipper Jack Hutchinson will look to turn things around and record the double over their opponents. The selected team contains a healthy number of young players to back-up the more senior members, which bodes well for the future.


Greenock Cricket Club is sponsored this season by Cleaning Supplies 4U.