Greenock welcome 'new boys' Arbroath to Glenpark

Greenock are host to ‘new boys’ to the SNCL Premiership, Arbroath United at Glenpark on Saturday. However, at the time of writing, with the unseasonal weather raining vast amounts of water from the heavens, the prospects of any play would perhaps not get good odds from your local, friendly ‘bookie’.

May, normally a month of good weather in these parts, has been utterly awful in 2011. Greenock have so far been fortunate enough to manage to play three out of four Saturday fixtures but even one of those, had it lasted much longer, would have been abandoned due to rain. There has just been no sunshine or warmth to get the players into the groove and training sessions have also been severely curtailed.

Arbroath United are a team on the move. In 2010 they were the SNCL Division One winners and so far this season they have made a sound start in the Premiership with two wins out of three matches played. The club has a number of very fine young players in its ranks. Team captain Fraser Burnett, along with his brother Calvin and wicketkeeper/opening bat Marc Petrie are all youthful but key players for the Lochlands Park side. Also now in their side for 2011 is former Greenock overseas amateur Harry Byrnes Howe. Harry scored 114 not out on the opening day of the Premiership against Uddingston, and is definitely a player whom the Glenpark team will wish to keep in check.

However for Saturday’s fixture, Arbroath will be without Calvin Burnett while Greenock will miss Richie Berrington, as Cricket Scotland have arranged a friendly T20 match against Worcester at New Road on Friday evening and both players are in the squad travelling south and will not make it back in time for the league encounter. Dougie Wylie is also unavailable for Greenock this weekend.

The local side will have Aussie pro Luke Butterworth in their team on Saturday but it will be his last game for Greenock for two months. He has been called up to play for Australia A in their forthcoming tour to Zimbabwe and he leaves on Monday to return to Australia for a pre-tour training camp. This is a tremendous opportunity for Luke to play his way into the full Australian Test squad after having had an outstanding season in the Sheffield Shield competition where he was the leading wicket-taker. However it is a blow for Greenock who had been looking to him to bolster their side in this season’s cricket here in Scotland. In the event, due to injury and dreadful weather, he has played only two matches for Greenock since his arrival in mid April. All being well, Luke will return for the last month of the season in August.

Taking his place as professional for the months of June and July, if UK immigration red-tape can be overcome, is Tim McIntosh who was a great success when he was at Glenpark in seasons 2007 and 2008. Since then Tim has become a regular opening batsman for New Zealand’s Test side and his return is being eagerly anticipated.

For the match against Arbroath, Greenock will look to their young side to bat with increased confidence following two wins from their last two matches and also bowl and field well enough to prevent Arbroath from scoring freely. Much may once again depend upon the toss prior to the start of the game as the wicket will be likely to be soft and slow following the deluges which have hit the Inverclyde area over recent days and weeks. The summer must surely improve.

Greenock Cricket Club wish to acknowledge the generous support of the 1st XI Match Sponsor Cafe Continental, Gourock and also Match Ball Sponsor: The Baum Family whilst the Presidential Suite will be used by the Hockey Section of the Club.

The Glenpark XI travel to Glasgow to play against Albert Park (Weirs 2nd XI). Albert Park is likely to have suffered badly from the rains of this week, situated as it is beside the White Cart river, and so it would be no surprise if this game fails to start. The selection issues suffered by the 1st XI have had an impact on player availability for the Glenpark XI and as a result the team taking to the field at Weirs will have to call on their very best form if they are to gain a win.

On Sunday, the Hillend XI travel to Kilmarnock for a West District Sunday League fixture and will be hoping to see some action.