1st XI break their league duck at West

West of Scotland v Greenock 1st XI

West of Scotland 94 (0 pts) (IL Cran 33, C Bellwood 5 for 38, JPC Hempsey 3 for 18)
Greenock 1st XI 95 for 6 (10 pts) (LR Butterworth 37*, C de Grandhomme 3 for 17)


The national forecasters of gloom and doom for Greenock Cricket Club were proved wrong on Saturday. The predicted rain clouds failed to appear in the west end of Glasgow and the Glenpark side gained a first competitive win of the 2011 season in some style by beating McCrea West by four wickets.

Greenock’s strongest side of the season took to the field at the start of play having won the toss and having asked the home team to bat first. However, the strength of the team was tempered by the fact that the top three front line bowlers Richie Berrington, Willie Rowan and Aussie pro Butterworth, were carrying injuries and were not able to bowl. As a result, regular keeper, Andy Hislop, was asked to fill in as the fifth bowler and Alex Baum took over behind the stumps. This selectorial gamble was one that was to pay off with great success.

The decision to insert the home side immediately paid dividends when West opener Jatinder Singh edged the second last ball of the first over from Chris Bellwood and was well caught by wicketkeeper Alex Baum. This brought to the middle West's professional Colin de Grandhomme, a Zimbabwean who plies his trade in New Zealand at Auckland, Tim McIntosh's state side, (on arrival in Scotland, he was renamed by his new Glasgow teammates as “The Wee Man”!!) and he announced his arrival by smashing four boundaries from his first eight balls to put West on 22 after just four overs and looking very ominous.

But cricket is a game which can turn on a single delivery and when Jonathan Hempsey had former Middlesex squad player Ian Young caught at cover by Scottish Internationalist Richie Berrington for just 3, it signalled a very sudden change of fortune for both sides. Bellwood had “The Wee Man” and the new batsman Ross Brown both caught behind by Alex Baum in his third over and all of a sudden West were 22 for 4.

Opening bowlers Bellwood and Hempsey now had their tails up and more joy followed for Greenock with just five more runs added to the total when Aftab Talpur and David McNulty got into a mix up and McNulty was run out without scoring. It was becoming a rout. Hempsey broke through twice more having Talpur caught in the slips by Butterworth and then bowling Graham to take the score to 38 for 7.

Not to be outdone Bellwood then had Craig Brown caught by Baum to make it 48 for 8, and he notched his first five wicket haul in Premiership cricket when Gavin Smith edged a swinging delivery and became wicketkeeper Alex Baum’s fourth victim of the afternoon .

It looked over and done at 53 for 9 but Ian Cran and Max Ralston were playing to a different script. The last wicket pairing frustrated the visitors for sixteen more overs and added 41 runs until Ryan Begley had Cran caught at cover by Richie Berrington for a very fine 33 leaving Ralston unbeaten on 12 and the innings at a close on 94. West had gained a little bit of self belief and Greenock had lost just a little momentum. But it was a total that Greenock could hardly have hoped to have bowled out McCrea West for in advance of the start of the match.

Greenock’s bowlers had one of their best afternoon’s for some time with Chris Bellwood the pick of the group with 5 for 38. Jonathan Hempsey returned very fine figures of 3 for 18 from his ten overs while Dougie Wylie, although wicketless, was impressive with ten overs for just 13 runs.

The changing fortunes of the game continued after the tea interval when Greenock were reduced to 12 for 3 after just eight overs with Hislop, Bellwood and Berrington all back in the dressing room. Over this season and last, these early losses could have caused Greenock to crumble as batting confidence has not been high. Enter Aussie professional Luke Butterworth. The big Tasmanian provided the middle order security that has been missing in recent times and, firstly with Willie Rowan and then Alex Baum, he guided the team to a morale boosting win.

With Butterworth playing a solid, sound innings, Rowan was somewhat more carefree in his shot-making and beat the field on numerous occasions to help keep the score moving at decent pace. However, with the score on 50, Rowan mistimed a shot off the bowling of Cran and gave Young a straightforward catch which he took quite easily. Alex Baum came to the middle to join Butterworth and these two eased the score along without any real alarms and as the winning total came closer, both increased their tempo and a flurry of boundaries brought the scores level.

Professional De Grandhomme then took a little bit of the shine off Greenock’s performance by picking up two late wickets before the winning run was scored by Butterworth who was unbeaten on 37. Baum contributed a very valuable 20.

What a difference a week (and a professional) makes !!

Greenock’s match ball was sponsored by The Hempsey Family