Berrington's injury doubts a blow for Greenock

Greenock 1st XI return to Glenpark this Saturday as they seek to move up the SNCL Premiership table with a win over Watsonians.

With only one league game going ahead out of the last four scheduled fixtures in this weather-ravaged summer, Greenock will be keen to get on the park again. Last Saturday’s cancellation was unfortunate as in normal circumstances, the match with Grange would have at least started, even if rain would have prevented it from finishing.

This week, Greenock face another club from the capital. Watsonians have somewhat under-achieved this year, lying 6th in the Premiership table, having won 4 out of their 7 completed games, although they have reached the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup. On paper, they have a strong-looking side, with a number of current and recent internationalists in their team but defeats to Grange, Carlton and Forfarshire perhaps indicate that they still have a bit to go to get to the standard of the top teams in the league.

Nevertheless, they will present a stern challenge to Greenock. Led by ex-Greenock and Scotland skipper, Craig Wright, they have a strong batting line-up, spearheaded by Scottish cap, Ryan Flannigan and backed by Euan Chalmers, a centurion at Lords this summer, Stuart Chalmers (no relation) and professional Tim Weston, not to mention Wright himself.

On the bowling front, opening bowler Tony McKenna has made a good impression this year since joining from West Lothian and he will get good backing from the Legget brothers, Peter and Mike, and Stuart Chalmers. For variety, there is the slow bowling of overseas amateur, Chandra Dhingra and Wright, who has become an off-spinner as the years take their toll of his back.

Greenock’s final lineup has still to be determined. Dougie Wylie is definitely not available whilst there is some doubt as to the availability of Richie Berrington. He will need to pass fitness test in order to play and even if gets through that, as the Scottish Saltires have games on both Sunday and Monday, the national selectors may not wish him to turn out on Saturday.

Should this happen, it will be very much to Greenock’s detriment as Richie is a key man for the team and very much in form at the moment. Strong showings in last Sunday’s Regional T20 matches were followed by a blistering innings of 56 in just 23 balls as Scotland hunted down Ireland’s massive total of 320 at Grange on Tuesday. Richie reached his 50 in just 20 balls and only 8 batsmen in the history of ODIs have reached that target in fewer balls. Unfortunately, he was unable to repeat that magic the following day against Sri Lanka but you can be sure that Watsonians will be overjoyed if he is not playing against them.

League points are crucial for Greenock at this stage of the season as they aim to avoid finishing in the bottom four places of the league and thereby escape the end-of-season play-offs to determine the relegation positions. The results of the few games that did go ahead last weekend went in Greenock’s favour but with just five games left before the play-offs, a couple of defeats could put Greenock in a really awkward position.

The match will start, as usual, at 13.00 and is sponsored by Duncan Mackenzie Butchers, with the match ball sponsored by Bob McGill. Greenock Cricket Club are very grateful for this support.

The Glenpark XI are currently sitting in joint second place in the WDCU SNCL Reserve League and they will be confident of at least maintaining that position when they head up to Glasgow to take on bottom-placed Shawholm (Poloc’s second string). Two good performances under stand-in skipper, Dave Sharma, in the past fortnight would tend to indicate that the team is in good form and clearly capable of making it three wins out of three. Team selection is currently still being worked on.

The Hillend XI have a home game on Sunday against Motherwell and will be hoping for a better result than last Sunday’s 7 wickets defeat by Drumpellier. However, even in defeat there were some promising showings from the team’s younger players, Neil Flack and Harry Briggs in particular, and had there been more support from some of the older players, then the result might well have been different.

As ever, it will be all eyes on the weather forecast leading into the weekend. Current projections are not at all favourable and it would seem unlikely that any game will proceed uninterrupted.