Greenock in must-win game at Stirling County

Greenock travel to New Williamfield, Stirling on Saturday to face Stirling County for what has become the team’s biggest match of the season. Following last weekend’s dramatic finish against McCrea West when the side lost out by just one run, the Glenparkers know that only a win will be good enough if the spectre of relegation is to be avoided. Yet again however, the weather may well have the final say in the matter.

Despite the heroic efforts by the team to gain a win against McCrea West at Glenpark last week, Greenock know that the game was not won and lost in the last few overs. Too many runs were offered up too easily in the field and West ended up with a total considerably greater than should have been the case.

Against Stirling County on Saturday a more frugal approach must be adopted while bowling in order to deny the County batsmen easy pickings. Against West, a tight start was allowed to slip away in the latter stages when too many loose deliveries were punished and the total on the scoreboard rose rapidly making Greenock’s job of chasing in their innings much more testing.

Concentration in the field was also a contributory factor in the narrow loss. If ever there was a good example of the importance of working to save every run in the field, last Saturday’s game at Glenpark could be put forward as the one to examine in detail. Just one run saved would could have given Greenock a tie in the match, and two runs saved could have provided the all important win.

One less wayward ball bowled, one catching chance snapped up, one mis-field prevented. In the after-match analysis, the Greenock team could look back and recognise a variety of opportunities where a more focused approach could have made the difference against West. On Saturday at New Williamfield that lesson will be fresh in the minds of the Greenock players and they will know that they cannot afford to offer up any such easy runs to their opponents.

Greenock take the same eleven through to Stirling for Saturday’s match. Openers Alex Baum and Shailesh Prabhu will both wish to get back amongst the runs after early dismissals last week and they will be followed in the batting line-up by pro Mpho Sekhoto and Richie Berrington. The latter two showed their experience against West with a fine third wicket partnership and their run scoring contributions will be crucial again at New Williamfield.

A very positive factor from last Saturday’s outcome was the performance of the middle and lower order batsmen. Team captain Ryan Begley led the way with some forceful shots and quick running between the wickets which put pressure on the opposition. Then in the final three overs Waleed Jamal almost won the match with a series of shots which had the Glenpark crowd believing the impossible might just be happening. A huge six into Fox Street was followed by a couple of boundaries in a hard hitting cameo of 22 not out from just 12 deliveries.

For Stirling County, Saturday’s match is of huge importance too. Saturday’s match is a relegation battle. The New Williamfield team lie just one place above Greenock in the CSL Premier Division West, having leap-frogged the Glenparkers thanks to their unexpected win against Local Life Ayr at New Cambusdoon last week. Only a few percentage points separate the teams but Stirling have at least that advantage.

Josh Edwards was the Stirling match-winner at Ayr last Saturday. Chasing 216 to win, opener Edwards scored an invaluable 70 runs before being out LBW. County captain Philip Rees with 34 and Richie Carswell with 25 played important supporting roles before Gavin Anderson not out 16 and Sean Ferrie not out 13 saw them safely past the Ayr total.

These same four players were also key bowlers for Stirling picking up seven of the ten Ayr wickets. Ensuring that these four do not play such an important role in Saturday’s match will be an important factor for Greenock to consider as they prepare for their trip to New Williamfield.

Only two matches in the league programme remain for Greenock. The Stirling game is undoubtedly a massive one as a win could ensure Premier Division cricket again next season. One last game away to Clydesdale also remains........but then there is the weather. It could be that that Saturday’s match at Stirling fails to get played as the forecast is not good. If that is the case, Greenock will need a win at Clydesdale and also for County to falter on the last weekend.

The Glenpark XI are at home on Saturday to take on the Williamfield XI in the CSL Reserve League. No team selection has been finalised as yet. This match is scheduled to start at 1pm.

On Sunday, the special 150th Anniversary celebration match is being played at Glenpark between a Greenock XI and a Cricket Scotland President’s XI. The match begins at 12noon and will be 30 overs per side. With many Scottish current and past internationalists playing, an entertaining match is assured.