Despair for Greenock as relegation is confirmed

Greenock 1st XI vs Stirling County

Stirling County 166 (10 pts) (GS Anderson 48)
Greenock 159 (2 pts) (JPC Hempsey 57; R Carswell 3 for 39)


Greenock’s long-held place at the top table of Scottish cricket was ended at the weekend when the team could win only one out of the two crucial matches in their SNCL Premiership relegation playoffs against Stirling County and Drumpellier.

On Saturday against Stirling County at Glenpark, the local side fell just seven runs short of the visitors' total and that failure to win condemned the side to relegation into the SNCL Championship for season 2012. Sunday was an altogether different story as the Glenparkers cast aside the gloom of Saturday evening to brush aside fellow strugglers Drumpellier and end the season with their most convincing win of 2011.

Greenock made a very positive start to this match with Richie Berrington and Aussie pro Luke Butterworth spearheading the bowling attack. With just ten overs bowled, County were in a spot of bother with three batsmen out for just 21 runs on the board. However a fine partnership of 81 runs between Anderson and Tweedie gradually hauled Stirling back into the game before Dougie Wylie bowled Anderson for 48 and Andy Hislop had Tweedie caught for 27 runs.

The remaining middle and lower order Stirling batsmen all scored some runs but there was no one who made a significant contribution, and in the forty-seventh over County were all out for 166. Greenock made use of eight bowlers of whom Butterworth, Jamal and Hislop picked up two wickets apiece.

Possibly the most significant event of the weekend for Greenock came just moments before the Stirling innings ended when Richie Berrington received a bad finger injury as he backed up an attempted run out throw from Butterworth. The Scottish internationalist had to leave the field to get his injury treated and when Greenock's innings got under way he was forced to drop way down the batting . The injury subsequently led to Berrington having to withdraw from Monday's Scottish Saltires match against Hampshire at The Rose Bowl, Southampton.

Greenock’s innings got off to a poor start with Shailesh Prabhu, Alex Baum and Chris Bellwood all out with less than twenty runs scored. Worse was to follow however as Luke Butterworth played an uncharacteristic shot and was caught at second slip for just 13 runs, Willie Rowan departed quickly and then Andy Hislop, who had been in for quite a period, mis-timed a drive and was caught at point having scored 15 runs.

At 52 for 6 Greenock were in deep trouble. Jonathan Hempsey joined Ryan Begley in the middle and 21 runs were added before Begley’s dismissal for four added to the gloom over Glenpark.

The injured Berrington came in to bat at number nine in the order and along with Hempsey a very significant partnership developed. Hempsey was the lead player scoring numerous fine boundaries with straight drives while Berrington managed to support him although obviously in pain from his hand injury.

The deficit was reduced over by over as Hempsey hit regular fine shots past the Stirling fielders to the boundary and the possibility of a home win eventually came into sight. With the partnership on 66 and the Greenock total on 139, Hempsey was caught by Miller having scored an excellent 57 runs. Greenock now needed just 28 runs with 2 wickets and 6.4 overs remaining.

Dougie Wylie joined Berrington, and with the large Glenpark side willing them to continue on to victory the runs kept coming at the necessary pace, until with just 12 runs needed from the last three overs Wylie was run out. Berrington was left to take the team over the line, but, with every ball jarring his hand it was a tall order, and with 8 runs needed from the final over he went down the wicket in search of a big hit and was stumped by wicket-keeper Rob Carswell for 27. Jubilation for Stirling and gloom for Greenock.