Greenock on the brink of relegation

Ayr vs Greenock 1st XI

Greenock 1st XI 119 (0 pts) (DI Johnstone 3 for 25, S McElnea 3 for 26)
Ayr 120 for 4 (10 pts) (MHW Papps 77; RD Berrington 3 for 18)


Greenock’s hopes of avoiding relegation from the SNCL Premiership suffered a severe blow on Sunday at New Cambusdoon when Local Life Ayr emerged winners of the first of each club’s three relegation battles by the comfortable margin of six wickets. The Glenpark side must now win their final two games of the Premiership programme against Stirling County and Drumpellier this coming weekend.

The portents were ominous for Greenock when the toss they were hoping to win was lost and Ayr opted to field first. The earlier than normal noon start meant Greenock beginning their innings with a hint of dew still around and the overcast sky and warming temperature providing the home attack with ideal bowling conditions.

Ayr achieved the best possible start they could have hoped for when, with just ten runs on the board, Greenock’s openers Chris Bellwood and Shailesh Prabhu were both back in the clubhouse having been caught from the bowling of Scott McElnea.

Richie Berrington and Aussie pro Luke Butterworth came together and looked to be building a solid partnership with 27 runs added from just five overs. McElnea then claimed the prized wicket of Butterworth when the Tasmanian was trapped LBW for 13 with the first ball of the eleventh over.

Andy Hislop joined Berrington and these two were looking comfortable and scoring at a good pace until, with the score on 61, Berrington was clean bowled by Calum Leck for 22. This signalled a middle order collapse as Willie Rowan , Alex Baum and Hislop(14) were dismissed for the addition of only six runs and when Jonathan Hempsey became the fourth Greenock player to be given out LBW, the score had moved on to just 79 for the loss of 8 wickets.

The biggest partnership of the innings was then put together by Ryan Begley and Dougie Wylie. They added 36 runs for the ninth wicket before Wylie was caught and bowled by David Johnstone for 16 and the innings came to an end when Waleed Jamal became the fifth LBW victim leaving Begley unbeaten and top scorer with 28, as Greenock were all out for just 119 runs.

McElnea with 3 for 26 and Johnstone 3 for 25 were the top wicket-takers for Ayr with Leck and New Zealand pro Michael Papps also picking up two wickets apiece.

Needing an early breakthrough after tea, Greenock achieved their goal when Berrington clean bowled Andy McElnea for just 2 runs. However Papps continued his fine form for the 2011 season and brought up his fifty in the 23rd over before Berrington comprehensively bowled his batting partner Mitchell for 11 to claim his second wicket of the match. At 67 for 2 there was just a glimmer of hope that Ayr might get the jitters and struggle to score.

Papps and Chris Preece, coming in at number four in the Ayr batting line up, soon extinguished that thought as they took Ayr to within eight runs of victory before the Kiwi pro played a quite uncharacteristic shot and was caught by Wylie for 77 from the slow spin of wicketkeeper come bowler Andy Hislop.

Berrington collected his third wicket of the match when he had Mark Renny trapped LBW for a duck just one run later. But it was too little too late and Ayr scored the winning runs with six wickets and almost fourteen overs to spare.

So ended a very disappointing match for Greenock who now have it all to do this weekend if Premiership cricket is to be retained for another season.