Will cricket prevail or will the rain win again?

Greenock return to Scottish Cup competition on Saturday when the second phase of the sectional matches of the national cup competition begin with a home match against NVT Poloc. The Glasgow side were well beaten when Greenock travelled to Shawholm in early May and a repeat outcome would be very welcome for a Glenpark team which has not played a competitive match for almost three weeks. But perhaps the biggest barrier to this will be the weather. Will cricket prevail or will the rain be the winner once again this weekend?

In early May, Greenock’s playing prospects for the season were looking very rosy with both South African professional Mpho Sekhoto and his countryman Overseas Amateur Craig Schlebusch in the side which played at Poloc. The Glenpark team that day gave a very encouraging performance and outplayed their city opponents in every department of the game. Schlebusch scored an unbeaten century, Sekhoto picked up several wickets and others in the side chipped in with runs and wickets in what was a fine all round team performance.

Since then, of course, Schlebusch has returned home to South Africa for personal reasons and the very poor summer weather has provided a lack of practice time as well as regular interruptions and cancellations to the playing programme. It has been a thoroughly unsatisfactory first couple of months for everyone trying to enjoy the ‘summer game’.

For Saturday’s match at Glenpark, a more or less full side is available for Greenock. The opening batting partnership between Shailesh Prabhu and Alex Baum, which had begun to look good prior to the recent cancelled fixtures, will once again be able to be used at the top of the Greenock order.

Richie Berrington has now recovered from the finger injury he sustained while playing for the Scottish Saltires against Hampshire at the Rose Bowl in Southampton a few weeks ago and will be in the Greenock team to play NVT Poloc. This midweek Berrington has been captaining the Scottish Lions XI against Lancashire County 2nd XI at Chester and in the first innings of the match he scored a useful 41 runs. His inclusion in the Greenock side this weekend will be a boost to the locals who will be hoping that he can come good with a major innings for the side.

As both Greenock and NVT Poloc have been without competitive cricket for almost three weeks, due to the unseasonal weather which has blighted much of the UK, most players will find getting back into the groove quite challenging when they take to the field on Saturday.

Greenock’s South African professional, Mpho Sekhoto, is certainly not used to the weather we have been enduring in recent weeks, but he is a talented player and is very keen to show that he can score big runs despite the lengthy lay off.

Visitors NVT Poloc play in the CSL Western First Division and their record from the first half of their league programme reads: played just three games out of a scheduled seven, won one and lost two. In the first phase of the Scottish Cup, out of their three scheduled matches, only the game against Greenock was played and of course that resulted in a win for Greenock. So in total, Poloc have had ten matches which should have taken place but only four have survived the weather. Out of these matches, the Shawholm side has managed just one win.

The Glenpark XI begin the second phase of their Western Cup sectional matches with a game against Meikleriggs XI in Paisley on Saturday. Their team has yet to be finalized due to doubts over the availability of several players. This match starts at 12 noon.

The Hillend XI do not have a game on Sunday but on that day there is a three way T20 festival at Glenpark with teams from Innellan and Kilmacolm playing against a Greenock XI, which will no doubt include several members of the Hillend team. Play will start at 11.00am with Greenock XI v Kilmacolm. The other matches scheduled are Innellan v Kilmacolm at 1.30pm and Greenock v Innellan at 4.00pm.

Weather permitting this should be an entertaining day of cricket. The event is being supported by local company CICS Ltd and Greenock Cricket Club is very grateful for their generous sponsorship.