Greenock face hard match at Stirling

After two consecutive home matches, Greenock are back on the road this Saturday with a journey across central Scotland to play Stirling County at their New Williamfield ground, close to the famous castle.

Matches between Greenock and Stirling have tended to be quite high scoring affairs in recent years with Greenock gaining the upper hand in most of these encounters.

But County have made a good start to the 2021 Premier Division season with three wins from the five matches which they have completed, and are looking very competitive this summer, while Greenock have only managed one win from six.

Stirling's wins have been gained against lower league sides Langside and Poloc, plus an exciting one run win over second top Ferguslie. Both of their losses have been closely contested matches. In the opening game of the season County lost out to Prestwick by 23 runs and last Saturday went down to West of Scotland by just 10 runs at Hamilton Crescent.

In all five matches played, County have had a settled top three in their batting order and each has scored well consistently. In particular, Harry Booker and young South African Brandon McMullen have been in fine form. Booker has scored 184 runs in his five innings and McMullen 193 runs.

Booker and Matthew Tweedie, who has himself racked up 137 runs, are the regular openers for Stirling and the pair have given their side a good start in all bar one of the matches played.

McMullen is number three in their batting line up and he averages over 60 from the four most recent Premier Division matches.

The statistics clearly indicate that Greenock must remove these top three batsmen as early as possible or County are liable to build a very large score. Batting is the team strength.

As a bowling unit, Stirling regularly use six or seven bowlers in each match. Akram Shakoor and McMullen spearhead their attack and between them they have a tally of 18 wickets from the five Premier Division games to date.

Others likely to bowl will be Paul Bielby, Tom Jones, Harry Booker, Euan Smith and Sri Lankan, Rukman Hewage. Of these, only Hewage and Jones have gained a 3 wicket haul in a game so far.

Greenock will be keen to continue their good form of recent years against County and will take confidence from the win against West of Scotland two weeks ago and look to notch up a second Premier Division win for this season.

This week the Glenpark side will be strengthened by the presence of Neil Flack, who was originally a doubt due to work commitments. Jamie Nowell also returns and will open the batting with Flack.

Harry Briggs has shown good form in recent matches at number three in the batting order and he will likely continue in that position with Gregor Chambers coming in at number four.

If these players at the top of the order for Greenock can settle in and build good partnerships then the Glenpark team will be very much in the game at New Williamfield on Saturday, whether posting a total or chasing whatever County have set from their innings.

A number of others in the Greenock side can also influence what runs can be scored. Chris Hempsey has had several innings this season which have got off to a good start, and if he can remain at the crease, he has potential to post a substantial score.

And Under-19 Scotland international Sean Fischer-Keogh, who is a frontline pace bowler, has shown that he is also capable of contributing with the bat, as his 32 at Dumfries just a few weeks ago clearly demonstrated.

But Fischer-Keogh is first and foremost the leader of Greenock's bowling attack and along with Gregor Chambers will provide a challenging opening spell of pace bowling for the Stirling top order batsmen. Between them they have collected nineteen wickets from the Premier Division matches played this season plus another ten from other competitive matches.

Compared to County who have a significant number of bowling options, Greenock are a bit more limited, and so team captain Greg McDougall will think carefully how he can make best use of the bowlers he has in his side but at least he can call on Neil Flack and also Sam Sanghera who was also a doubt at one stage this week.

McDougall will hope that his selected team can build on their recent improved form and bring back the points from a game which starts at the usual time of 12 noon.

The Glenpark (2nd) XI have suffered a couple of disappointing results in the last fortnight and will look to turn things round when Anniesland, the 2nd XI of Glasgow Accies visit Glenpark. Skipper Jack Hutchinson will lead a team along the usual lines but will have to do without Peter Robertson who has injured his knee. His place is taken by young Freddie MacFeate, a very promising junior. This match will start at 1pm with each team batting for 40 overs.


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