May 8/9 Weekend Preview

Saturday 8th May - Aberdeenshire vs Greenock

Greenock embark upon the 360 mile round trip north to play against 2009 League and Cup double winners Aberdeenshire on Saturday.

Whilst the Mannofield side, led by former Greenock captain Neil MacRae, do not look as strong this year as in the previous campaign, particularly with the ball, they will still feel confident of defeating a Tail ‘o the Bank side shorn of a Professional, all-rounder Wylie and the energetic Sanghera. However on the plus side the locals welcome back opener Shailesh Prabhu and the recently arrived overseas amateur Courtney Kruger who supplement the team that lost to Clydesdale at Glenpark last week.

Aberdeenshire have had an inauspicious start to the defence of their title having already lost both double-header matches last Saturday and Sunday to Dunfermline and the National Academy respectively. Adding to their woes was the broken ankle suffered by 6’ 7” opening bowler and vice-captain Chris West, an injury which will keep him sidelined for at least 12 weeks, and the travel issues which have prevented their 21 year old overseas amateur arriving from his native Papua New Guinea.

The home team still appear to be capable of either posting or chasing a big score with Kiwi Professional Michael Parlane a particular threat with the bat backed up by the 181 times capped Colin Smith, MacRae and recent recruit from Stoneywood-Dyce Shaun Coetzer. Parlane, 38 in July, has scored over 11500 first class runs at an average of 30 with no fewer than 20 centuries and sources close to the situation tell us that he could indeed pose a major thorn in the side of the locals.

With the weather set fair, the contest may well come down to a straight fight between the batting of the home side and the bowling of the visitors. Certainly, any repeat of the extras-fest which infected Greenock’s fielding effort last week, will again prove fatal as the fickleness of the batting in the Greenock ranks means that every run is absolutely precious.

Batting, whether setting or running down a total, is all about planning. The batters need to set targets in the first 15 overs of power-play whilst keeping wickets intact and then look to consolidate in the middle of the innings through good running and circumspect hitting when appropriate. Nudging, nurdling and grinding slowly towards a winning total may not be pretty but having successfully completed the mission it definitely makes a long journey home and the obligatory fish suppers seem much more palatable.

Sunday 9th May - Ferguslie vs Greenock

Sunday sees the first round of this year's Scottish Cup and Greenock have been drawn away to their long-standing Renfrewshire rivals, Ferguslie. The Paisley team has endured a torrid couple of years, despite having won the Cup just two years ago, plummeting down the leagues to now be playing in Division 2 of the National League. Their current campaign got off to a dreadful start when they were heavily beaten by Dunfries.

This is a sad state of affairs for a team with such a proud history to be suffering and it is surely every cricket-loving person in Scotland's wish that Ferguslie are quickly able to recover their status in Scottish cricket. It won't be easy but hopefully their much-admired youth development programme, led by the redoubtable Sam Scott, will be the source of their recovery.

Sunday's game, free from league pressures may give Ferguslie the chance to express themselves and it therefore represents a potential banana skin for Greenock. The latter's selection will be at full strength for the game, with the return of Dougie Wylie and Phil McIntosh, and will be keen to maintain their recent strong record in the competition.

Saturday 8th May - Glenpark XI v Kingholm

For those Greenock spectators who don't fancy the long journey up to Mannofield on Saturday to support the 1st XI, there is the opportunity to watch the Glenpark XI take on Kingholm (Dumfries 2nd XI) in a Western Union Division 3 league match.

The team that has been selected represents a good mix of the young and old and will also feature the presence of Greenock coach, Tony Judd, who will be keen to show his proteges just how it is done.