Important Weekend for 1st XI

This weekend the 1st XI play two fixtures which are important for different reasons. On Saturday, the team travels to Coatbridge to face Drumpellier who occupy the position immediately below them in the Premiership table and a win would give some breathing space. On Sunday, it is round three of the Scottish Cup and Clydesdale are Greenock’s opponents. A win at Glenpark would take the local side into the Quarter Final stage of the national competition.

The trip to Langloan presents Greenock with the opportunity to gain their second league win of the season. Drumpellier finished fourth in the SNCL Division One in 2010 and only moved up to the Premiership as a result of the league re-construction at the end of last season. So far in 2011, the Coatbridge side has managed only an opening day win against Dunfermline Knights and been second best in the four other Premiership matches which they have completed. The drumpellier team has also been knocked out of the Scottish Cup, losing in their opening match to Greenock’s opponents on Sunday, Greaves Clydesdale. Confidence at Langloan may therefore be in short supply and Greenock must capitalise on the poor start to the 2011 season which has been made by Drumpellier.

With no play possible for the 1st XI last Saturday at Stoneywood Dyce, it means that the team has had only one Premiership match in the last month due to the inclement weather. Players are therefore short of proper match practice and will need to step up to the mark despite this on Saturday.

The position of professional looks like remaining unresolved once again this weekend as, by the middle of the week, New Zealander Tim McIntosh had not been able to get the necessary visa to gain entry to the UK and was still in Auckland. This is a huge blow to Greenock with these two important games to play, as competing without a professional against other sides who do have a hired hand is a significant disadvantage.

Greenock do however have players who have experience of playing Premiership cricket and progressing to the final stages and winning the Scottish Cup. This experience must be used to the full this weekend. Players such as Scottish internationalist Richie Berrington, Ryan Begley, Willie Rowan and Dougie Wylie have the potential to have a major impact on the outcome of the two games.

Also back into the team for Saturday’s game at Langloan is Shailesh Prabhu who will almost certainly open the innings for Greenock alongside Chris Bellwood. Prabhu is a very experienced batsman and when Tim McIntosh was previously professional at Greenock, the two formed a very sound opening partnership. He will be keen to renew that partnership when McIntosh does finally arrive in Greenock.

Among the others who can contribute to success this weekend are Jonathan Hempsey and David Thomson. Hempsey will form one of the prongs of the Greenock bowling attack but he can also bat, as his maiden century while playing a Strathclyde Sunday League fixture at Helensburgh last weekend demonstrated. “Toby”, a former 1st XI captain, brings experience, which was shown against Heriots recently when he batted in the lower middle order and contributed 25 not out.

On Sunday, for the Scottish Cup match at Glenpark, there are a few changes to the line up. Shailesh Prabhu and Dougie Wylie are unavailable and their replacements are Ben Peterson and Dave Sharma. In the Scottish Cup 2 nd round match v McCrea West of Scotland, Sharma bowled a very economical ten overs for just 26 runs and was very unfortunate not to pick up a wicket. He is another who can provide runs down the order for the Greenock team on Sunday as in 2nd XI cricket he regularly scores runs and just last season scored a fine century against Torrance House who the Glenpark XI play on Saturday.

Having said all of that, Clydesdale will present a formidable test for this Greenock. Whilst their league performances have been somewhat mixed, they possess a number of players who are capable of winning a match on their own, such as current internationalist Majid Haq and good young players like Omer Hussain and Zeeshan Bashir. Professional Nazeer Hussain has started to settle in and shows signs of being an accomplished bowler, as witnessed by his 5 for 55 for the Cricket Scotland Cavaliers against the Scotland Lions in this week's three-day trial match. Majid Haq also took 5 wickets in this match in a marathon spell of class off-spin bowling. It is also worth remembering that Clydesdale won the league match at the start of the season quite comfortably. To be quite honest, anything other than a win for the Glasgow team would be a major surprise.

Greenock 2nd XI (Glenpark XI) are once again at home on Saturday and, following their resounding victory over Dumfries 2nd XI last weekend, will be looking to add another win when Torrance House, the 2nd XI of East Kilbride, provide the opposition. The Glenpark XI are currently sitting in fourth spot in the SNCL Reserve League table and will look to make further advances in the weeks ahead if availability of players and good form can be maintained.

**The annual McDougall Trophy match played between a Greenock XI and a Hillend XI takes place at Glenpark on Friday evening with a 6pm start.