Greenock stumble against Watsonians

Greenock 1st XI vs Watsonians

Greenock 1st XI 143 (0 pts) (CM Wright 3 for 27)
Watsonians 146 for 6 (10 pts) (R Flannigan 39, AP Learmonth 34, SJ Chalmers 30; TG McIntosh 3 for 39)


The weather affected the SNCL programme yet again at the weekend with only 5 out of 15 matches being played to a conclusion. 4 of these games were in the Premiership and one of them was at Glenpark when Greenock lost out to Watsonians by 4 wickets. This was the only one of the 5 games to be uninterrupted and therefore not require the help of Messrs Duckworth and Lewis in an effort to obtain a result. Who says it always rains on Greenock?

It could be said that it did rain on Greenock’s 1st XI as they were forced to take the field without their star international player, Richie Berrington, whilst Chris Bellwood was only able to bat and Dougie Wylie was unavailable. Tony Judd was persuaded to play to proved a spin option and a recent newcomer to the area, Waleed Jamal, a student from Lahore, was brought in to bolster the pace bowling.

Skipper Ryan Begley won the toss and elected to bat first. Greenock’s openers, Bellwood and McIntosh, made a steady start and had reached 37 by the 10th over, when Learmonth struck a crucial blow by bowling the professional for 8. This was a major setback for Greenock as a long innings from McIntosh was felt to be crucial if Greenock were to set a challenging total. Three balls later and the alarm bells were certainly ringing as Bellwood fell for 21, caught by Flannigan off the bowling of the Scotland Under-19 captain, Paddy Sadler. Sadler, a student at Cambridge University and a University Blue into the bargain, struck again shortly afterwards when he bowled Hislop for 10 which left the score at 62 for 3.

By now, Watsonians skipper, Craig Wright, had decided that spin was the best option and he brought himself and the visitors’ Indian amateur, Dhingra, into the attack and they were to bowl their allotted 10 overs spell in tandem. By the time they had finished, the innings was in ruins at 120 for 9. Willie Rowan was given out lbw to Wright for 4, Dhingra dismissed Baum in similar fashion, also for 4, and skipper Begley was caught at short-leg off Wright for just 2.

While all these dismissals were happening, Shailesh Prabhu was manfully keeping an end going and he now found a willing partner in Jonathan Hempsey. They put on 26 for the seventh wicket before Hempsey was caught by Euan Chalmers for 17. Prabhu held on for a little longer before he too was caught by Chalmers, in Wright’s last over, for a painstaking and vital 28 runs. 113 for 8 became 120 for 9 as Tony Judd was run out for 5 and the innings looked to be doomed.

The spectators were at least treated to a fighting last-wicket stand between Greg McDougall and Waleed Jamal. The latter hung around whilst his partner hit the runs and they took the total to 143 before Jamal was finally bowled by McKenna for 2, leaving McDougall unbeaten on 23. Wright finished with figures of 3 for 27, with Dhingra taking 2 for 26 and Sadler 2 for 22.

This was a disappointing show by Greenock’s batsmen, not for the first time this season, and it did not really give their bowlers much to defend. To make matters worse, Watsonians got off to a rollicking start and after just 13 overs they were already over halfway to their target, reaching 75 without loss. Openers Flannigan and Learmonth were severe on anything loose and the Greenock bowling was unable to contain them. Rowan and Jamal had opened for Greenock before the former was replaced by Hempsey after bowling just 3 overs. Jamal was replaced by Tim McIntosh and Hempsey, after a disastrous over which cost 21 runs, gave way to Tony Judd.

It was McIntosh who made the first breakthrough when he had Learmonth stumped by keeper Alex Baum for an enterprising 34, which included 7 boundaries. The visiting professional, Weston, succumbed in identical fashion for just 7 and when Judd trapped Flannigan leg before for 39, Greenock sniffed a slight possibility of turning the game around.

This possibility became a little stronger when Andy Hislop who had replaced McIntosh after a couple of expensive overs, had Euan Chalmers, so often a scourge of Greenock’s bowlers, caught behind by Baum from his very first ball and Watsonians were now 107 for 4. Greenock’s tails were up but they couldn’t make the next and vital breakthrough, at least not until the total had reached 137, when Judd had Stuart Chalmers caught by McIntosh for 30. The professional returned to have Boyd leg before for 5 but Wright and McKenna saw Watsonians through to victory, the former Greenock captain remaining unbeaten on 12.

In the end, it was a fighting performance by Greenock after it looked at one point that they might be overwhelmed. Ultimately, they were left to rue the fact that they were at least 30 runs short of a competitive total. This, coupled with the untidy start to their bowling, left them with just too much to do.

As a result of this defeat, Greenock have slumped to 14 th place in the Premiership and with a number of difficult fixtures ahead, it increasingly looks as if they will finish in the bottom 4 positions. These 4 teams will play-off against each other with the bottom-placed team being relegated to the Championship and the second-bottom team having to play the team which finished second in the Championship to determine who plays in the top league in 2012.

Greenock next travel to play Dunfermline, a team against whom they have not enjoyed much success in recent years. A win there would be a great boost for the team but they will need to up their game on all fronts if they are to achieve that.

Greenock CC wish to thank Match Sponsors, Duncan MacKenzie Butchers and Match Ball Sponsor, Bob McGill, for their generous support.