League leaders Carlton visit Glenpark

League leaders Carlton are this Saturday’s visitors to Glenpark for what is arguably Greenock’s most important match of the season. Languishing in the bottom quarter of the SNCL premiership, Greenock will need to put in one of their best performances to beat their Edinburgh opponents and provide the chance to move out of the bottom four.

The midweek Rowan Cup semi-final win against Poloc will have given the Glenpark side a much needed shot in the arm and the knowledge that league leaders Carlton lost last Saturday for the first time this season in the Premiership will have provided added encouragement that a positive outcome to tomorrow’s encounter can be achieved.

However, Greenock will be without Ryan Begley who is injured and Alex Baum who is unavailable. Recent addition to the side, pace bowler Waleed Jamal who captured four wickets last Saturday at Dunfermline, will almost certainly lead the bowling attack along with Willie Rowan and these two will be supported by Richie Berrington, Chris Bellwood, Jonathan Hempsey and Kiwi pro Tim McIntosh.

The Carlton match is Tim McIntosh’s last match for Greenock as his spell as replacement professional comes to an end due to the return of Aussie Luke Butterworth who has been in Zimbabwe for two months with the Australia ‘A’ touring side. McIntosh, who has been New Zealand’s test opener in recent times, has fulfilled the role of professional at Glenpark for the last five weeks in Butterworth’s absence. He will wish to end this spell with a big innings at Glenpark tomorrow and Greenock will be delighted if he can do just that as Carlton are a strong batting side and a large total will almost certainly be required if a win is to be achieved.

Richie Berrington, too, will be keen to get a good innings under his belt as he has not scored the runs that he is capable of scoring, mainly due to the stop start season caused by one of the wettest summers on record and the lack of batting friendly wickets as a result. The Scottish internationalist is due a score and he will be a major target for Carlton who recognise his ability as a top class batsman and bowler as well as being a superb fielder.

Opening the batting for Greenock tomorrow will be Shailesh Prabhu who has come back into the side in recent weeks and he and McIntosh will have the task of building a base from which a substantial total can be achieved. Prabhu has looked in good form in the matches he has played and will relish the opportunity to have one last chance to partner McIntosh.

In-form Jonathan Hempsey who has scored two centuries for the Sunday XI in the last few weeks as well as top scoring for Greenock at Dunfermline last Saturday with 54, gives Greenock a strength in depth in the home side’s batting line up. He will almost certainly bat around number 7 or number 8 in the order after Chris Bellwood, Willie Rowan and Andy Hislop who had an encouraging and confidence boosting 87 last Sunday for the Glenpark XI against a strong WDCU Western Academy Under-18 side.

Carlton, as might be expected for a side sitting at the top of the Premiership table, are a team with a plethora of good players. Former Greenock player, and still current Scotland internationalist, Fraser Watts will open the batting with Cedric English, a former Scottish internationalist who last Saturday scored a fine century against McCrea West of Scotland.

Coming in at number 3 in their batting line-up will be Preston Mommsen who has had a magnificent season for Scotland and is attracting interest from a number of English county sides. He will be followed by Stevie Gilmour and Scotland captain Gordon Drummond both of whom have scored centuries in this season’s Premiership campaign for Carlton.

Notwithstanding this array of batting talent, McCrea West showed last Saturday that Carlton are fallible and, despite the century from Cedric English, the Edinburgh side were all out 26 runs short of the visitors total of 275. If Greenock do bat first tomorrow at Glenpark, a total in the region of 300 runs will be necessary to set the capital side a challenging target such is their strength in the batting department.

Carlton also have a strong bowling line-up with Scotland captain Gordon Drummond and international fringe player Ally Evans to lead their attack and Mommsen a potent threat as first change bowler. Others Greenock will be watchful of include Sean Olivier, Omar Ahmad and Jason Trembath.

So all is set for what should be a fine afternoon of cricket. The weather forecast is good and two teams with a lot to play for, with plenty of talent in each side, should provide a match with lots to entertain the crowd at Glenpark.

Greenock Cricket Club are grateful to acknowledge tomorrow’s sponsors who are: Presidential Suite Sponsors, Blair & Bryden Solicitors; Match Sponsors, Reid Mackellar Opticians; Match Ball Sponsor, Jim Snoddy.

The Glenpark XI have no game this weekend and can rest content after a run of good form has seen them reach third place in the WDCU SNCL Reserve League.

On Sunday the Hillend XI play Kilmarnock in a WDCU Sunday League fixture with a 2pm start at Glenpark.