Busy weekend for the 1st XI

The 1st XI have a busy weekend with fixtures at Glenpark on both Saturday and Sunday. First up is a visit from Ayr for a Western Premiership One league match on Saturday. And this will be quickly followed up with a first round Scottish Cup home tie against Stewarts Melville from Edinburgh on Sunday.

The side narrowly lost out in the opening round of fixtures in the Western Premiership One last Saturday. The team travelled to Dumfries and after a very close fought match at Nunholm the home side emerged victors by 4 wickets with just eight balls remaining. Greenock scored 192 for the loss of seven wickets, but Dumfries got across the line by scoring 196 for the loss of 6 wickets with just slightly more than one over left to be bowled.

For their part Ayr gained a fine first league win of the season against near neighbours Prestwick . The fixture played at Ayr's home ground New Cambusdoon was a high scoring match with both teams scoring in excess of 230 runs.

But in the end, it was Ayr who emerged winners by capturing Prestwick's last two wickets in the final over of play to leave their county rivals tantalisingly just seven runs short of winning the match.

The key players in the win for Ayr were their two opening batsmen Michael English, Neil Flack and bowler Hamza Tahir.

Former Ferguslie player English scored 83 runs while ex-Greenock captain Flack scored 94. Both were removed when in sight of centuries, their opening stand putting on 172 and setting up Ayr for their eventual total of 239 for 5.

Tahir was used in two spells. His first began in the 22nd over and he bowled 8 overs and took 4 wickets for 46 runs. Then as Prestwick pressed hard for the win, scoring 62 runs from the eight overs prior to the very last over of the match, Tahir was brought back to bowl the final over. The tactic worked as he captured the last two wickets and finished with 6 for 49.

A couple of changes have been made to the team from last Saturday at Dumfries. Unavailable are Harry Briggs and Shailesh Prabhu and into the side come Chris Hempsey and Cammy Calder.

With Briggs missing, Tom Polkinghorne will have a new opening batting partner and that may be Lukas Fischer-Keogh with whom he had a very important 120 run third wicket stand at Dumfries.

If the pair do open, then another large batting partnership would set the team up either for a large first innings score or provide a platform for others to reach and overtake their opponents' score if batting second.

Club pro Rahul Dalal missed out on a good score last Saturday and will be keen to make amends against Ayr. He is an accomplished batsman but cannot be expected to make big run-scoring innings every game. That said, he will wish to show home supporters his batting abilities on Saturday.

Chris Hempsey makes his first appearance of the season and along with Gregor Chambers and Nagendra Nagaraju will likely be placed in the middle order while team captain Greg McDougal, Cammy Calder and Adnan Afzal have the ability to add runs, if required, in the lower middle order.

The bowling attack will be bolstered by the inclusion of Calder, and if Polkinghorne has recovered from a side strain which prevented him bowling at Dumfries, then the Glenparkers will have an added improvement in bowling choice for the match with Ayr.

Chambers and Nagaraju will lead the bowling attack and be backed up by McDougall who picked up three wickets last Saturday and Dalal who bowled very tidily but without success at Nunholm.

Adnan Afzal, Ewan Stewart and Usman Mansoor will provide further options for team captain McDougall.

The match with Ayr will provide a stern test for Greenock but the local side have the players in their side to win this encounter. There is an enthusiasm in the group and if the players can each focus and play their part, then a first league win of the season can be achieved on Saturday.

The match will start as usual at 12 noon.

It is the turn of the Glenpark XI to make the long journey south to Dumfriesshire when they travel to Gatehouse of Fleet on Saturday to take on Galloway's 2nd XI. Captain Eddie Ahmad will be confident of another victory but has had to make a number of changes to the chosen eleven from last week's team due to a lack of availability of several players. The match will start at 1pm.

On Sunday, the 1st XI begin their 2023 Scottish Cup campaign with a home tie against Stewart's Melville CC who play in the Eastern Premier League. This is the fifth time out of the last six Scottish Cup first round draws that Greenock have faced an Edinburgh side. On only one occasion out of these cup ties have Greenock progressed to Round 2 so there will be an added reason for the team to want to overcome their Edinburgh opponents and reach Round 2 on Sunday.

A strong team has been chosen for the game which will start at 12 noon.

Any interested new players will be welcome to come along to practice sessions at Glenpark on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6pm until 8.30pm

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