Season Opener on Saturday

Cricket returns to Glenpark on Saturday as the 2011 season kicks off with a friendly for the 1st XI against Drumpellier.

After last season's extremely disappointing results, hopes high are that this year will see an improvement in fortunes. The new SNCL league structure will apply and this sees the team play in a new 16-team league - the SNCL Premiership. Each team will play each other once and after this first round of matches has been completed, the league will be split into 4 mini-leagues of 4 teams each and a further 3 games will be played to determine positions within each such mini-league. Clearly, the aim will be to finish in the top 4 in which case there will be a fight to be champions. Any team finishing in the bottom 4 will be playing to avoid relegation to the 1st Division (Championship), which will apply automatically to the team that finishes bottom whilst the second-bottom team will play off against the runners-up in the Championship for a place in the 2012 Premiership. It sounds complicated but hopefully it will all become clear by the end of the season.

This year's team will be along the lines of last year but it will be bolstered by the presence of Australian Luke Butterworth who will be playing as the club's professional. Luke is coming off a stellar season for his state side, Tasmania and is sure to be an exciting addition to the team as a true all-rounder. There will be no Overseas Amateur in the side this summer. At the time of writing, there is unfortunately some doubt as to Butterworth's availability for the whole season. Australia A are touring Zimbabwe during June and July and Luke has been included in the provisional squad for the tour. Should his selection be confirmed, the Club are hopeful that they will be able to replace him with a suitable alternative. More news on this will be published as and when information becomes available.

The team for Saturday's game has been selected and it is a strong team with most of the usual suspects on view. Especially encouraging is the avaliablity of Richie Berrington. It had been expected that he would be moving to an English county but so far this has not transpired, which is greatly to Greenock's benefit. His availability during the season will inevitably be limited through his commitments to the Scottish Saltires but nonetheless a limited number of appearances is surely better than none.

The match is due to start at 1pm and good weather is forecast. The pitch, which will be the first to be prepared by Greenock's new groundsman, the redoubtable Roger Hardie, is bound to be a slow and low one but at this stage of the season nobody is really expecting anything else. If they do, then they clearly haven't lived in the West of Scotland for long.

The Glenpark XI also have their first game of the season this weekend, when they take on Hillhead in a friendly on Sunday.

They too enter a new era this year as they will be taking part in the WDCU SNCL Reserve League. This league will comprise the 2nd XIs of all the SNCL teams in the West of Scotland and as such there will be no relegation. In many respects it represents a return to the old Western Union 2nd XI League and it is hoped that the stability of the league will allow younger players the chance to develop. In addition, all games will be played on SNCL-standard pitches which again can only be to the advantage of the players. This is an excellent and progressive move by the WDCU and is to be welcomed.

Mark Robertson takes up the reins again this year as captain.