June 5/6 Weekend Preview

Saturday 5th June - West of Scotland v 1st XI

Greenock make the short journey along the M8 to Partick on Saturday when they travel to old rivals West of Scotland who sit just one place above them in second bottom place after just one win this season.

The local lads have endured a torrid time this year as they struggle to adapt to the difficulties of fielding teams bereft of a Professional and recently an overseas amateur with Courtney Kruger cutting a forlorn figure as he is forced to watch on helplessly from the sidelines due to a finger injury. This week though Greenock do welcome back all-rounder Richie Berrington who has been away on international duty and much depends on his young shoulders with both bat and ball.

Last week’s horror show against Watsonians will have to be consigned firmly to the history books and hopefully it can be put down to just a very, very bad day at the office because bad it was in the three major disciplines of batting, bowling and fielding. One had to feel sorry for skipper McLaren as whatever he did turned to dust as his best laid plans were just not executed by his charges.

On a more positive note the batting form of young Alex Baum has been a revelation even if he has found out much to his chagrin that catching a cricket ball is not so easy without a pair of gloves. Bellwood, Hislop and the returning McLaren have all settled in well and to be honest given a bit of luck and no less application this team can and should win games. Losing, like winning, can become a habit and this is one streak that needs to be broken sooner rather than later but the players know that and are trying hard to post their first victory this term.

West too have struggled of late but they also have Scotland duo Goudie and Lockhart back in the fold as well as former Greenock player Moneeb Iqbal. In fact all three will join Berrington in Deventer next week as Scotland take on The Netherlands in the 4-day ICC Intercontinental Cup which starts on Thursday. West can also boast Kiwi Professional 26 year old Canterbury state player Leighton Burtt who is a more than handy all-rounder. Last season West, who were promoted in 2008 alongside eventual champions Aberdeenshire, surprised many by coming a very creditable third in the league but like their fellow promotees they have found life much tougher this time around.

This was always going to be a difficult campaign for Greenock and with the team now deep into its transitional season McLaren will be hoping that not only has the corner been finally reached but comfortably negotiated with two thirds of the games still to be played.

Saturday 5th June - Glenpark XI v Cavaliers

After two blank Saturdays, the Glenpark XI are champing at the bit to get back on the park. Saturday sees the visit of the Cavaliers, Clydesdale's third team, to Glenpark and skipper Mark Robertson will be keen to see his team get the upper hand and set their promotion campaign back on track.

The selected eleven is the usual mixture of promising youth and battle-hardened experience.

Sunday 6th June - Stirling County v 1st XI

Greenock just can't seem to get a home draw in the Scottish Cup - just two such fixtures in the last three years when the side has reached the final and two semi-finals in that time. This year's second round is no different and the destination on Sunday is New Williamfield to play Stirling County, in a repeat of last year's first round tie. In that match, Greenock ran out comfortable winners by 8 wickets but this time around there is not the same strength in depth in the team and the teams will be more evenly matched. Stirling for their part are well-placed in the SNCL Division one and there can be no doubt that a Greenock victory will be hard to achieve and as such will be very satisfying. Who knows, it might even lead to a home quarter-final tie! The Greenock selection is along the same lines as that deployed on Saturday.

Sunday 6th June - Hillend XI v Ayr

The Hillend XI have still to taste success this season but will be hoping to do so when Ayr come to Glenpark for the latest match in the Strathclyde League. In truth, the chances of a victory will probably depend very much on the strength of the opposition. Greenock will continue to use the game as a development tool for their up-and-coming youngsters and if Ayr do the same, then an even contest will ensue. If they bring a more experienced team, as for instance Clydesdale did in a previous fixture this season, then it is likely that they will prevail. There are little or no restrictions on who can play, other than professionals are not allowed, and so it is entirely up to each club as to how strong that want their team to be. In fairness, it should be added that a minimum of three car drivers is required for away fixtures and that need can determine team selection on any given day.