Greenock face table-toppers Clydesdale on Saturday

Greenock travel to the south side of Glasgow this Saturday to play Clydesdale in what is a top versus bottom league match. Following last weekend's defeat to West of Scotland, Greenock's fate has been sealed and the team will be relegated at the end of the season and play in the WDCU First Division in 2022.

The Glasgow club on the other hand must get maximum points from their two remaining rounds of fixtures to maintain their table-topping position if they are to win the Premier Division title. Hot on their heels are Ferguslie, who they are due to meet in their final match of the season at Meikleriggs next Saturday, in what will be the title decider.

While there is little expectation that Greenock could cause an upset at Titwood on Saturday, Clydesdale will not be likely to treat the game with the Glenparkers lightly.

The Glasgow club is the biggest club in the west of Scotland and currently one of the most successful. As well as being in pole position to win the Premier Division title, Clydesdale also hope to win the McCulloch Cup (West League Cup) when they play Prestwick in the final of the competition on Sunday.

Greenock's hopes will certainly be much improved with the news that opening bat Neil Flack is available for the match on Saturday. The former Scotland Under-19 World Cup captain has been in good form with both bat and ball when he has been available this season. But due to work commitments, he has only played in six Premier Division matches this season. And Saturday's match against Clydesdale will be his first appearance since 14th July.

But while the team will be encouraged that Flack is available for the match against league leaders Clydesdale, once again a number of regular 1st XI players are unavailable, including opening pace bowler Gregor Chambers. Also out are Lukas Fischer-Keogh, Harry Briggs, Jamie Nowell and Chirag Pandher.

Chambers has played in all of Greenock's matches in the Premier Division this season, and in partnership with Sean Fischer-Keogh spearheading the team's bowling attack, has been a hugely consistent performer. He has taken over twenty wickets in the matches played and when Fischer-Keogh's wickets are added, the duo's wicket tally is over forty.

For Fischer-Keogh, the Clydesdale game will be his last match of the season for Greenock. He has been chosen for the Scotland Under-19 World Cup Europe Qualifiers which are being held in Spain later this month. The squad flies out next week for the tournament which takes place from 19 September until 25 September and so he will miss Greenock's final match against Stirling County.

Saturday's opponents, Clydesdale, have won ten out of the eleven matches which they have completed and sit on top of the Premier Division table with 255 points and a percentage of over 92%.

The Clydesdale club have a large pool of players available and usually can field a strong, all round performing team. But while the team has an excellent record in their matches played this summer, there have been a few occasions when they have made heavy weather of chasing down opponent's totals.

Last Saturday at Titwood, opponents Langside batted first and scored what was a fairly modest 150 for the loss of 6 wickets. Clydesdale, in reply, scored 153 for the loss of 9 wickets and so just scraped home by just one wicket.

Earlier in the season in their matches against Uddingston and Dumfries, the Titwood team bowled out each of these teams for under 150 runs but then made heavy weather of the run chase.

So their batting line-up can be quite brittle on occasions, as some results show, but on numerous occasions too, scores in excess of 200 runs have taken the Glasgow club to victory.

Fazal Jawad along with Scottish internationalist, and former Greenock player, Richie Berrington are often the key batsmen for the Titwood team. Both have been in good form recently. Berrington's innings of 46 last Saturday was the mainstay of the team's winning chase against Langside, while Fawad's 101 not out along with Berrington's 52 eased the team past Dumfries' total of 200 at Nunholm in mid-August.

And Berrington's 97 not out along with Fawad's 35 were the two most important innings which helped Clydesdale beat West of Scotland just two weeks ago. Without these two players in form and scoring well Clydesdale may not have made it to the top spot in the league table.

Their bowling unit has been a consistent weapon during the season, with Calum Drummond, Arun Krishna and Daniel Cairns the usual front three in the attack. Two others who will be a danger to Greenock, if they are available to play on Saturday, are Kasim Farid and, once again, Richie Berrington.

With over 200 senior international caps, Berrington is a highly experienced all-rounder and is regularly the Clydesdale match-winner. But without an overseas professional in the side this season due to the covid pandemic, or other players with the experience and ability of Berrington, Greenock have struggled to compete with other sides in the Premier Division.

The Glenpark side will, however, wish to give Clydesdale a competitive game this Saturday and make them work to maintain their top of the table position. Ferguslie, in second position, will be watching the result and hoping their Renfrewshire rivals can do them a favour and pull out a surprise win.

With nothing to play for, the match at Titwood, which will start as usual at 12 noon, is an opportunity for Greenock's selected eleven to play with freedom and who knows spring a major surprise.

The Glenpark (2nd) XI are scheduled to play Hamilton Crescent at Stirling County's ground, New Williamfield, in the WDCU Third Division. Last Saturday, the problems with player availability caught up with the team and they were forced to concede the fixture with Vale of Leven. This week, even although there are still absentees from the 1st XI, it is hoped that the game will go ahead, perhaps with a delayed start.


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