Greenock travel to Hamilton Crescent in expectant mood

This Saturday Greenock travel to Hamilton Crescent in Glasgow to play McCrea West of Scotland in a CSL Premier Division West league fixture. The team will do so, not so much in hope as may have been the case over the last few weeks, but more in expectation following last Saturday’s win against Drumpellier. Confidence has been lifted and the players know that they have the ability to get a result.

Last Saturday, Greenock batted first and posted a total in excess of 200 runs. It was a total the team knows could and should have been greater. Shailesh Prabhu and Alex Baum made a very positive start to the innings with a partnership of close to a century, which laid the foundations to the total which was to come. However, once again, the middle order did not progress the score as well as might have been hoped for and too many batsmen lost their wickets when they should have been able to build their own score further and allow for a real onslaught later in the innings.

Instead, Greenock went from a very promising position of 173 for 3 wickets to 212 all out. In effect seven wickets were lost for just 39 runs, and worse, the team failed to use up the full 50 overs by being all out in the 44th over. The local side must recognise the importance of batting through their full allocation of overs in order to establish a challenging total for their opposition or perhaps to overcome a total posted for the side to chase if batting second.

Greenock will field a side with a couple of changes to last weekend’s game with Drumpellier. Richie Berrington, who was unwell, comes back into the side and also in will be Brian Roberts who scored 30 runs for the Glenpark XI at Langloan. Out from last weekend are Kieran Begley and Dave Sharma who are both unavailable. At least that is the intention. At the time of writing, Berrington was hoping to recover sufficiently from a dislocated finger, sustained while playing for the Scottish Saltires against Hampshire at the Rosebowl in Southampton in the CB40 competition on Monday.

Once again, Greenock will look to Prabhu and Baum to provide a sound start to the innings. They have made some sizeable opening partnerships in the matches played to date, and at Hamilton Crescent on Saturday, the normally good quality wicket and large outfield could afford another opportunity for runs. South African pro Mpho Sekhoto will hope to get into his stride, and if he does, and is supported in the key middle order positions by the likes of Berrington and Chris and Jonathan Hempsey and team captain Ryan Begley, then Greenock will be competitive and hopefully return from Partick with full points.

Of course scoring runs is only one part of what is necessary to win cricket matches. Bowling and fielding can be just as important. Greenock’s attack is perhaps a little more lightweight than in recent seasons, with some key players having moved on to other clubs. It is therefore all the more important that those who are stepping up to fill these positions work hard at their bowling discipline and also that fielding quality is sharpened to meet the demands of playing at Premier League level. Bowling extras must be kept to a minimum and fielding mistakes minimised in order to keep opposition totals as low as possible.

Waleed Jamal and Richie Berrington will take the new ball and with their pace will look to upset the McCrea West top order. Pro Mpho Sekhoto fresh from a five wicket haul against Drumpellier can also cause issues for West. Add to these Jonathan Hempsey, Greg McDougall and Ryan Begley and Greenock have bowlers who can give this weekend’s opponents difficulties if they focus well on their bowling techniques.

McCrea West have made a good start to their league programme with three wins to their credit but did come unstuck last Saturday when they went down by three wickets to Stirling County at Hamilton Crescent. Key players in their line-up include experienced former Scottish internationalist Douglas Lockhart , former Middlesex county player Ian Young and former Scottish Saltires pace bowler John Blain. They also have two fine young players in Andrew Umeed and Anjan Luthra.

It will be a testing afternoon at Hamilton Crescent for the Glenpark side and will require each player in the side to contribute positively when called upon whether batting, bowling or fielding. If the Greenock players can find their form then there is every chance that the points will be heading west along the Clyde on Saturday evening.

The Glenpark XI had an ecnouraging victory at Langloan last Saturday and they will hope to build on that when they welcome Partick to Glenpark. The Glasgow side can normally be relied on to provide stiff opposition and this year is unlikely to be any different. A squad of twelve has been picked for the game, led by Mark Robertson, as a number of alterations have had to be made to last week's winning team, due to lack of availability. This match starts at 1.00pm.

The Hillend XI had a splendid victory last Sunday at Helensburgh and will be keen to follow that up with another win when St Michaels travel up from Dumfries for the Sunday's fixture. The team selection is not known at the time of writing but it is sure to contain a number of the promising youngsters who have contributed much to the team's success this season.