Competitive cricket returns to Glenpark this Saturday

Competitive cricket returns to Glenpark this Saturday for the first time since August 2019. The Covid restrictions introduced by government in early 2020 meant there was no league or cup cricket at all during that summer, and the start of league cricket for 2021 has been delayed due to covid travel restrictions within the west of Scotland until this week. In normal times, the league programme would commence at the end of April.

Langside (formerly Weirs CC) will be the first visitors to Glenpark since champions Uddingston defeated Greenock in a low scoring match on 3rd August 2019.

The Glasgow southsiders were still known as Weirs when they won promotion to the Western District Cricket Union (WDCU) Premier Division by finishing runners-up to Dumfries in the Championship Division at the end of the 2019 season. 2021 marks the very first time that the Club have played in the top division of cricket in the west of Scotland. And Saturday's match at Glenpark will be their very first match in the top tier.

The Albert Park side have had some match practice in recent weeks as a number of the Glasgow sides have been able to play against each other within the city, travel not being a barrier in those cases.

Greenock last played against Langside (Weirs) in league competition back in 2016 when Greenock were the Championship Division winners. The sides met only once at the end of April in the opening league match of the season, the return match in Glasgow at Albert Park in mid summer, being washed out.

In that 2016 season opener, Greenock outplayed the southsiders and gained an important early league season confidence boosting win. Weirs batted first and scored 136 all out with Phil McIntosh picking up 4 wickets for just 16 runs. In reply, Greenock cruised to an eight wicket victory with Neil Flack not out 52 and Chris Hempsey also unbeaten on 38.

Without match practice due to the pandemic restrictions, Greenock go into Saturday's match much less well prepared than would normally be the case when the league programme begins. And the starting line-up shows significant changes from the 2019 side which last played Premier League cricket.

It is a much younger side, with the majority of the team either under twenty years of age or in their early twenties. And there is neither a top professional nor an overseas amateur at the Club this summer due to the pandemic and its associated travel issues.

So this season's XI must quickly get to grips with top tier cricket.

A lot of responsibility on Saturday may well rest on the shoulders of the few experienced players available such as team captain Greg McDougall, Neil Flack, Chris Hempsey, Harry Briggs and Sam Sanghera. These five have quite a number of years of Premier Division cricket under their belts and will need to lead their younger team-mates.

But there is plenty of quality in the younger players. Sean Fischer-Keogh broke through into the 1st XI as a regular in 2019 and quickly established himself as a pace bowler who could take wickets. Indeed he ripped out four of Premier Division winners Uddingston's batsmen in the August 2019 match at Glenpark, including a seldom achieved hat-trick when he claimed three wickets in three consecutive balls. Sean also has the experience of having played for Scotland in the 2020 Under-19 World Cup in South Africa. The tournament was played in January / February just prior to the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic.

Other under 20's stepping up to 1st XI Premier Division cricket are Cammy Calder, Jamie Nowell and Lukas Fischer-Keogh. All three are talented young cricketers and have performed well in the Club's Glenpark XI in recent seasons, with Calder achieving his maiden century during the 2019 season.

Two new players who have arrived at Glenpark since the 2019 season are Gregor Chambers and Muhammad Ahmad.

20 year old Chambers transferred to the Glenpark club in April from Helensburgh Cricket Club where he has played since the age of ten. He has been a regular 1st XI player with his former club but now wishes to experience Premier Division cricket. He is a top order right hand bat as well as a medium pace right arm bowler and is an important acquisition for the Greenock team.

Muhammad Ahmad transferred into the Greenock set up at the end of March having moved into the Inverclyde area during the last year. 30 year old Ahmad was with Renfrew CC for three seasons and has shaped up well in practice at Glenpark, but knows that he will be tested at Premier Division level.

Various experienced players from the 2019 season are as yet unavailable for Greenock either due to work or family commitments.

The match with Langside, although right at the beginning of the league season, is a hugely important one for both teams. The Premier Division has many very useful and experienced sides such as holders Uddingston and Clydesdale, West of Scotland and Ferguslie. Langside are the 'new boys' in the top tier and Greenock are in transition with a young team.

A win for Greenock would be a great start to the 2021 season and a real confidence booster.

Under the captaincy of Greg McDougall, the Greenock selection will look for success in the match which will start at the usual time of 12 noon.

Hopefully the good weather which the west of Scotland has been enjoying this week will continue over the weekend and the much awaited return of cricket to Glenpark can be enjoyed by the Greenock support.

The Glenpark XI open their league season on Saturday afternoon with a trip to Glasgow to play GHK Strathclyde. The team, under the captaincy of Jack Hutchinson, will be a mix of experience and youth and will also have a few new faces from the side that played in 2019.

On Sunday, Greenock travel through to the capital city to play top Edinburgh side Carlton in the first round of the Scottish Cup. Carlton were runners-up to Heriots CC in the 2019 final and winners of the national trophy in 2017. A tough tie awaits the local Glenpark team. The victors will be away to holders Heriots CC , so no easy passage their either!!


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