The league season starts this weekend

The 1st XI make a return to the top cricket league in the west of Scotland on Saturday afternoon. The team gained promotion at the end of the 2022 season after just one season in the old WDCU First Division. This season the leagues have been re-named and the team will now play in the new Western Premiership One.

Pictured below and resplendent in their new coloured clothing are the squad which featured against West of Scotland on 23rd April.

Back Row - JM Nowell, N Nagaraju, T Polkinghorne, CS Pandher, JPC Hempsey

Middle Row - EA Stewart, I Khan, GM Chambers, PJ Bryceland, SS Sanghera

Front Row - LC Fischer-Keogh, RR Dalal, GJ McDougall (capt), S Chaudhary

(photo by Angela Prabhu Photography)

The team begin their league programme with the longest journey that they will have to make during the league season with a 100 mile trip down the M74 south to Dumfries.

They will do so buoyed by two good wins last weekend from their pre-season friendlies against East Renfrewshire and West of Scotland.

The two matches provided opportunities for a large number of 1st XI and 2nd XI players to get some early season match practice and several took advantage to display fine form with the bat and/or the ball.

The Club's new professional, Rahul Dalal, made a very encouraging start to his stay in Greenock with a well crafted 85 against East Renfrewshire and was looking good for another large score against West of Scotland before a false shot, while on 22 runs, brought an early end to his innings. He also showed that he can be a useful off spin bowler taking 2 for 28 from 8 overs against West of Scotland.

Regular 1st XI opening bowler Gregor Chambers also showed good form with both ball and bat with 4 wickets for just 17 runs against East Renfrewshire and a first fifty of the season for him against West.

Nagendra Nagaraju, a 2nd XI player last season, made an early claim for promotion to the 1st XI with 42 not out against East Ren followed by a superb 5 wickets for just 9 runs from 4.1 overs against West.

Others who showed form included new recruit from Helensburgh, Tom Polkinghorne who scored 22 against West and Lukas Fischer-Keogh who made 21 also against West.

Saturday's opponents Dumfries finished the 2022 season in sixth position out of the ten clubs competing in the former WDCU Premier Division. But the south of Scotland club have been a bit like Greenock and have regularly moved up and down between the Premier Division and the First Division over the past decade. So this will be a match which the team will be targeting for a win.

The Nunholm ground at Dumfries is one of Scotland's top cricket venues and has played host to numerous representative matches. It is a ground where the wicket can give both batsmen and bowlers an equal opportunity to make their mark on the game.

The 1st XI's last visit to Nunholm was in June 2021 when Dumfries won a high scoring match by 51 runs. Key players for the home side were Chris Brockwell and Scott Beveridge who both scored half centuries as the their side racked up over 220 runs.

The return match at Glenpark in August 2021 had a slightly bizarre ending. Dumfries batted first and scored 231 for 8 but during the tea interval one of the Greenock players tested positive for Covid and the umpires abandoned the match !!

For this opening match of the Western Premiership One league programme, the side will be without a number of players who will be likely to feature in the team during the season. Work commitments are sidelining Cammy Calder, Jamie Nowell and Chirag Pandher while personal commitments see Chris and Jonathan Hempsey and Aryan Sanghera also unavailable for the trip south.

On the plus side, Harry Briggs and Shailesh Prabhu are both available to make their first start of the season.

Importantly, a number of the players who made good contributions to the team's winning start to the season last weekend will feature against Dumfries.

Gregor Chambers who had a fine weekend with both ball and bat is in the side although he is receiving treatment for a back issue. Tom Polkinghorne is also not 100% fit and may not bowl but will travel and be a key batsman at the top of the Greenock batting line-up.

Despite the unavailability of a number of players, the team look to have a decent batting line-up for the Dumfries match. Tom Polkinghorne will likely open the innings perhaps along with Harry Briggs or Lukas Fischer-Keogh. Rahul Dalal will fill the number three or four position and then Gregor Chambers, Shailesh Prabhu and Nagendra Nagaraju will make up the middle order.

The effectiveness of the bowling attack may depend on the fitness of Gregor Chambers and Tom Polkinghorne. Both players picked up injuries during last weekend's warm up matches and it will be touch and go whether they will be fit enough to bowl at Nunholm.

The selected team will travel to Dumfries with confidence that they can make a winning start to the league campaign.

Footnote: Last Saturday during the match against East Renfrewshire, Greenock captain Greg McDougall scored his 1000th run for the Club.

The Glenpark XI also start their league programme on Saturday with a home fixture against Blackhill, who are newcomers to the WDCU leagues. Captain of the team this year is Eddie Ahmad and he will keen to make this a winning start. The chosen eleven contains a number of players who are new to the club and like Eddie they will want to make a good early impression. The match will start at 1pm and will be played over 40 overs per side.

The follwoign day the club's Sunday team, the Hillend XI will play host to a Hillhead XI in a friendly match at Glenpark, starting at 1pm.

The Club is grateful for the continued sponsorship from Cleaning Supplies 4U.