Prospects for 2010

Season 2009 was in many ways one of major disappointment for Greenock Cricket Club and its supporters. That might seem a strange statement to make considering that three trophies were won by the beginning of September. But that does not hide the fact that for long periods of the league season, Greenock were rooted near the foot of the table and seen as candidates for relegation. After the successes of previous years, that was a bitter pill for Greenock's supporters to swallow. In the end, Premier League status was retained and the West League Cup, Rowan Cup and Murgitroyd 20/20 Cup were won, to put some gloss on such a disappointing summer.

2010 sees the SNCL prepare itself for restructuring into 2 divisions of 16 teams in 2011. As a result, there will be no relegation from the Premier Division this year and this has led the Club Committee to take stock of where the Club is heading. A major decision was taken to do without professional help this year and instead to employ Tony Judd as coach of both the Senior and Junior sections. It was recognised that the Club had somewhat lost its way in the past year or so and that the need to bring on younger talent was paramount if the Club was to maintain its position in the top sphere of Scottish cricket.

Attempts have been made to find an Overseas Amateur for the season but after it appeared that a suitable player had been found, that arrangement fell through and it may well be that the Club will need to cope without any overseas involvement this season. However, there is still time for this to change.

The 1st XI that takes the field for the first league game this season will show a marked change from that which played last season. Apart from Cameron Borgas and Adam Lockhart-Krause, last year's Professional and Overseas Amateur respectively, also gone from the Club for various reasons are Craig Wright, Dewald Nel, Keenan Bowers, Sean Weeraratna and possibly also Moneeb Iqbal.

Replacing them will be Kevin McLaren, who previously played for the Club in 2007, Andy Hislop from Clydesdale, a wicket-keeper / batsman who has been involved at all levels of the Scottish representative set-up apart from the national squad and Chris Bellwood, an all-rounder from Dumfries who impressed everyone when he played against Greenock in last year's Murgitroyd final.

Kevin McLaren will be captaining the 1st XI on the field this year with Ryan Begley taking on the role of Captain of the Club. Kevin will also be assisting Tony with coaching duties during the season, especially when Tony is away on duty with the Scottish national team.

In summary, this is likely to be a difficult year for Greenock and it would be reasonable to suggest that a mid-table finish in the league would be an outstanding success. The lack of a professional and possibly also an overseas amateur and the absence of Richie Berrington for long periods on Scottish duty is bound to have an effect, especially as it is likely that most of the Club's opponents will have hired help. On the plus side, this will give young players like Alex Baum and the Hempsey brothers, plus incomers Hislop and Bellwood, every opportunity to shine. They may well have to.

The Glenpark XI will again be captained by Mark Robertson and he will be hoping to have a more settled side this season. Last year, the 1st XI were never able to field the same side two weeks in a row. This had a knock-on effect on the Glenpark XI and each week would see Mark trying to put together a side at the eleventh hour. It was little wonder that results were so variable. Some stability in the senior team this year should benefit the Glenpark XI and hopefully this will see them mount a challenge to get back to Division 2 of the Western Union. To do this, the young talent that Tony Judd is nurturing will need to play a full part.

The Hillend XI will continue as a development team, playing in the Sunday Strathclyde League. There is no permanent captain of the team as such but the task will be shared by a number of the senior players. Results are not the top priority for this team. Rather it is the opportunity to blood young talent and let them experience a longer game of cricket than they are used to playing in the Under-age competitions.