Improved Greenock push Clydesdale hard

Clydesdale vs Greenock 1st XI

Clydesdale (10 pts) 225 for 6 (K Sajid 100*, MQ Sheikh 65)
Greenock 1st XI (0 pts) 190 (C Bellwood 46, CK Kruger 36, Z Bashir 4 for 35, M Ali 3 for 43)


Greenock suffered a predictable 35 run reversal against Clydesdale on Saturday although the manner of the defeat left the visitors with an increased sense of optimism for the remainder of the season.

The home team had no hesitation in electing to bat first when Kevin McLaren called incorrectly and the task of utilising the new ball was allocated to Rowan and Bellwood. Former internationalist Greg Williamson hammered a couple of early boundaries off the latter but Bellwood was to gain his revenge when he had the belligerent opener well caught by Hempsey for just those 8 runs with the total on 13 in the second over. Professional Sajid and partner Shahid then added a further 35 runs before Bellwood bowled Shahid for 18 with a corker. This brought Scotland player Qasim Sheikh, who was not selected to travel to the Netherlands to play in the current ICC World Cricket League competition, to the wicket and he and Sajid began to lay the foundations of a challenging total.

Although the scoring was slow neither batsman really looked to be in any trouble. Like their opponents, Clydesdale cannot boast the sort of batting prowess in their line-up that in years gone by would have powered on throughout the innings safe in the knowledge that they batted down to at least number ten. Sajid and Sheikh appreciated this fact and batted accordingly as they knew that the vulnerable tail would be exposed early had either succumbed to the visiting attack. Sajid enjoys playing against Greenock having posted a century, two ninety odds and a 58 in recent innings but he is not a destructive wielder of the willow, more an accumulator and his was indeed a professional’s knock.

McLaren moved his bowlers around to no avail and indeed he and the normally parsimonious Wylie went for 114 runs off their combined 20 overs for a meagre return of just one solitary wicket. That wicket did break the 125 run partnership between Sajid and Sheikh when, with the score on 173, the latter was caught behind off the captain for a well compiled 65. Singh (1) fell three runs later bowled by Hempsey but the well set Sajid began to open up with a series of boundaries and well taken singles. Bashir (11) was caught by Hislop off Rowan and Ali (1) was run out sacrificing his wicket in the mad rush for last minute runs but Sajid (100*) brought up his century in the last over and the innings concluded on 225 for 6.

A winning reply would require maximum effort and graft from the batsmen as the visitors were without the run-making talents of Baum, Berrington, McIntosh and Prabhu for various reasons. However, from a match-winning position Greenock were once again haunted by the recurring issue of losing wickets in pairs if not trebles. Hislop and Rowan, Greenock’s fifth different opening pair of the season, started well and took the total to 23, Greenock’s second highest opening stand of the season, before Hislop fell to Mackay for 6. Rowan (17) was next to go caught by Bashir again off the persistent Mackay and at 35 for 2 a winning total of 226 seemed like a long way away. Step in Bellwood and Kruger.

These two batted superbly and had the home team thoroughly ruffled as they progressed serenely to 130 and suddenly 226 looked a whole lot closer. It was not to be though as the old failings of one goes, two goes played its fateful card and both were removed in the same Ali over with the total marooned on 130. Begley and McLaren added twenty priceless runs but the former appeared completely out of sorts and his misery was ended when he was bowled by Bashir for 3. Hemspey the elder contributed ten comfortable runs in a partnership of twenty five but with Greenock still in the game a bemused McLaren (28) could only look on in horror as his mis-hit drive lobbed calmly back to the eager mitts of Bashir.

Wylie didn’t trouble the scorers as he was bowled next over by Ali and 130 for 2 now read 177 for 7. Greenock’s batsmen appeared bewitched by Clydesdale’s slow bowlers who helped themselves to a combined 7 for 78 off 17 overs. Greenock’s very own Saturday procession in July continued as Hempsey the elder decided that with the tail now in full wag mode it would be down to him to hit out for victory. He fell stumped for ten with the total now on 183. Petersen (5) was Bashir’s next victim and finally to sum up the day Begley the younger ran himself out for 2 in a mix up with Greg McDougall (5*). Greenock had lost their last five wickets for fifteen as the innings ended at 190 all out.

Greenock had a real chance to win this game but the lack of depth in their batting was plain for all to see. Had Greenock been at full strength the outcome may have been more positive but to be fair Clydesdale were also short, lacking both the injured Haq and Hussain on international duty so only Mystic Meg will be secure in the knowledge of what might have been. Bashir, who was immediately drafted in to travel to join Scotland after this game, ended up with 4 for 35 whilst his spin twin Ali had to make do with 3 for 43, although it was he who made the crucial breakthroughs when Greenock were threatening.