New season gets underway for Greenock

The 2012 cricket season gets underway for Greenock Cricket Club this weekend with two pre-season friendly matches both at Glenpark. On Saturday, Kelburne are the visitors while on Sunday, Hillhead travel down the M8 from Glasgow to provide the opposition .

Greenock will field a mixed side for the fixture against Kelburne. Richie Berrington, arguably Scotland’s most talented player, will be in the Greenock team and make a return to playing in Scottish conditions after spending almost two months with the Scottish international side in the sunshine and heat of United Arab Emirates and Sri Lanka. Welcome back Richie !! With the Scotland side having a significant number of fixtures taking place this summer between CB40 and Intercontinental Cup matches, Berrington may only be available to turn out for Greenock on a limited number of occasions. When he does however, much will be expected from him as the locals seek to be competitive in the new look Cricket Scotland League (CSL) Premier Division West and revamped Scottish Cup competitions.

Richie Berrington

Greenock’s professional for 2012 is South African Mpho Sekhoto. He plays for Easterns State in his native South Africa and has been a first class player for a number of years. Sekhoto (30) is a top order batsman and also bowls off spin. He has played alongside one of South Africa’s rising stars Marchant de Lange who made his Test debut for the Proteas in sensational style against Sri Lanka in December 2011 by taking 7 for 81 in the first innings of that Test. In the last couple of seasons Sekhoto has been professional with Lowestoft in eastern England where his performances with the bat have been notable, particularly in 2010 when he had a quite prolific season. Greenock will look to Sekhoto to be able to bring some of that form to Glenpark and, along with Berrington when he is available, bring on the younger emerging talent which Greenock must look to for success in the future.

Mpho Sekhoto in action

Sekhoto does not arrive in Greenock until next week and will hopefully make his first outing for Greenock in the opening Scottish Cup fixture against Falkland through in Fife on Saturday 21 April.

Also in the Greenock line-up this Saturday against Kelburne will be Alex Baum, Jonathan Hempsey, Kieran Begley, Aidan Forrest, Greg McDougall and Neil Flack. Baum, now at Edinburgh University, is a young talented wicket-keeper / batsman who has shown that he has the ability to score runs against the best in Scotland. Hempsey is a medium- paced right arm bowler who has gained regular experience in top level cricket in the last couple of seasons and who can also score runs in the latter stages of an innings. Kieran Begley is a fine fielder who has played at 1st XI on a number of occasions while Aidan Forrest is a young player for whom Greenock have high hopes and for whom this coming season will demonstrate just how far his talent has come. Greg McDougall is a medium paced bowler who picked up a considerable number of wickets for the 2nd XI last season and who showed increasing promise with the bat while Neil Flack is one of the young emerging Glenpark junior players whose talent is increasing each year and who has become a fixture in the West District’s junior age group set up.

Shailesh Prabhu will provide experience at the top of the batting order while Waleed Jamal will provide express pace opening the bowling.

Missing from the Greenock line-up this season from last, are a number of players who have moved on to join other clubs. Willie Rowan has returned to his former club Prestwick as has Chris Bellwood to Dumfries, while wicket-keeper batsman Andy Hislop, now living and working in Edinburgh, has transferred to Watsonians. Dougie Wylie, for many years a fixture in the Glenpark side, has decided he is no longer able to commit to training and playing as previously and returned in semi-retirement to his old club Kelburne.

Berrington, as well as being a key player for Greenock when available, takes over as Club Coach from Tom Black. In this role, Berrington will be a key person in the Greenock set up and his experience will be of enormous value in bringing out the best in a Glenpark squad which, while largely youthful, is undoubtedly talented. Proteas professional Mpho Sekhoto is being brought in to add a strength to the team which was missing last summer and his signing will hopefully bring out the best in the other members of the team.

Ryan Begley will captain the Greenock side this season and he will work closely with Berrington and Sekhoto to develop the most home grown Glenpark side for a number of years. Being competitive in the new Cricket Scotland League and revamped Scottish Cup competition is top priority along with nurturing younger players who will play in the 2nd XI and 3rd XI. Begley is unavailable for Saturday’s match against Kelburne but will make his first start of the season on Sunday when Hillhead are visitors to Glenpark.

Ryan Begley

Kelburne, who last season played in the old SNCL Division One, but who will play in this season’s CSL Western First Division as a result of the league re-construction , will provide testing opposition for Greenock in this opening day friendly and weather permitting it should be an enjoyable afternoon at Glenpark with the match starting at 1pm

Sunday’s fixture against WDCU first division outfit Hillhead, will see some of Saturday’s side turning out for a second game plus a number of other players getting their first opportunity of the season to don their whites. Match starts at 1.00pm on Sunday also.