Greenock face tough trip to Uddingston

Greenock travel through to Bothwell Policies to face 2011 Scottish Cup champions Uddingston in a Cricket Scotland League Premier Division (West) fixture on Saturday. Neither side has made a good start to the 2012 season and both have yet to gain a league win. So, for one of the sides, the match could be the catalyst to some improved league performances and a move up the table.

Last Saturday’s reversal at Ayr will have given Greenock a number of areas to work on in training during this week. In particular, a more disciplined bowling attack will be being looked for in order to reduce the impact of extras on to the opposition total and also a sharper performance from the team in the field will be demanded by captain Ryan Begley. The team must also seek to take advantage of any early breakthroughs which are achieved and be able to put opposition batsmen under pressure in order to build a momentum which sees further wickets fall.

In the Greenock batting department, there were some positive signs of players gaining confidence at the crease. Shailesh Prabhu scored a fine 50, Alex Baum looked comfortable for most of his innings of 43 and Richie Berrington showed his international class whilst compiling his 31 runs. However, it is substantial partnerships which Greenock must learn to compile if significant totals are to be set for opposition to chase, or if the team is to be able to overtake large scores itself.

South African pro Mpho Sekhoto is settling in and as the damp, cold weather gives way this week to something more akin to what he is used to back home, it is to be hoped that he will come good with a big score. Mpho has looked to be a class batsman in the few innings which he has played to date but the speed of the wickets has been an issue for him. At Bothwell Policies, the wicket is normally a firm and fast one and the outfield gives full value when good shots are played. Sekhoto, if he can get in, may well find the conditions suit him and that runs come flowing. Both he and Greenock supporters will be hoping so.

Uddingston, despite having had a less good start to the season than might have been expected, have a number of very potent players in their line-up. Celebrated former Scotland international and now club groundsman, Paul Hoffman, still has the potential to be a significant threat with both bat and ball, however, he has been out of the Uddy side in recent weeks and may not be in their team on Saturday. Rising star and now regular Scottish internationalist Calum MacLeod will be the home side’s main danger man. He has the ability to score quickly and has had success for the Saltires in recent weeks with both bat and ball. For his club, MacLeod has already posted some good scores in 2012 and last Saturday against McCrea West scored 47 runs and put in an impressive bowling performance taking 5 for 33 from his ten overs. Among others whom Greenock will need to watch out for in the Uddingston team include BARS Priyardashana, Gavin Bradley, Amir Gul and Ricky Bawa.

Disappointingly, Greenock have been informed by Cricket Scotland that they will not be allowed to bring in a replacement for Overseas Amateur, Craig Schlebusch, who recently returned home to South Africa for personal reasons. This decision is a major blow to Greenock and comes despite the fact that Schlebusch had not played a single league match for the Glenparkers. With many other sides benefiting from both a professional and an overseas amateur in their ranks, giving their teams an extra strength and an added dimension, Greenock will be at a disadvantage for the remainder of the season due to no fault of their own. Players will therefore need to lift their individual game in order to overcome this unfortunate circumstance.

The Glenpark XI have now suffered two heavy defeats on the trot and will be hoping to turn this round when they face the Bothwell XI at Glenpark on Saturday. This week the side is led by Kevin Flack and the squad of 12 selected again includes a number of promising young players. They will be looking to the more experienced players in the team such as Dave Sharma and Mark Robertson to help them bring about a turn in fortunes. This match starts at 1.00pm.

The Hillend XI were due to play Ferguslie in Paisley in Sunday in the WDCU Sunday league but this match has been postponed at the request of the opposition and will be rearranged for a later date in the season.