Greenock fall to Johnstone's wiles

Ayr vs Greenock 1st XI
CSL Western Premier Division
Saturday 19th May 2012

Ayr 216 for 5 (10 pts) MG Renny 74, C McLaughlin 55; GJ McDougall 3 for 43
Greenock 1st XI 170 (0 pts) SS Prabhu 50, AJL Baum 43, RD Berrington 31; SW McElnea 5 for 25, DI Johnstone 3 for 34


Greenock lost a second consecutive SCL Premier Division West league match on Saturday when the team went down by 46 runs to Local Life Ayr at New Cambusdoon. This was a match which Greenock had high hopes of winning, but which in the end, the home side won with some margin to spare.

The much expected return of Overseas Amateur, Craig Schlebusch, unfortunately failed to materialise and so Greenock were denied having the use of his considerable talents for this match and, now it emerges, he will be unavailable to play for Greenock for the rest of the 2012 season.

The Glenpark side made a great start to the match when opener, Alan McElnea was given out LBW from the fifth ball of Waleed Jamal’s first over and with the very next ball Greenock could have had a second wicket when new batsman McLaughlin gave a sharp chance to the slips but unfortunately it was not held and the Ayr batsman gained a reprieve.

Greenock did make a second breakthrough following a bowling change, when, in the fifteenth over, Greg McDougall had opener Neil Smith comfortably caught at cover by Jonathan Hempsey for 21. However that was to be Greenock’s only wicket for some considerable time as Mark Renny joined McLaughlin in the middle and these two steadily built up a very fine partnership which was only ended by pro Mpho Sekhoto 115 runs later when McLaughlin, having scored 55 runs, became the first of three catches taken by Richie Berrington. Renny too was one of Berrington’s victims, falling to the bowling of Greg McDougall having scored an invaluable 74 when the home team’s total had reached 188 and just four runs later McDougall picked up his third wicket when Scott McElnea became Berrington’s third and final catching dismissal of the afternoon.

Local Life Ayr’s innings closed at the end of their allotted 50 overs with 216 runs on the board for the loss of 5 wickets. In truth, this was a total which should have been considerably less and Greenock will rue a number of missed chances and also some slack fielding during the afternoon, but most of all must be concerned at the 21 “wides” which were bowled during the Local Life Ayr innings. Such a number of ‘extras’ is way too high and may have contributed to around a total of perhaps fifty runs added to the opposition score.

Shailesh Prabhu opened the innings for Greenock with his fifth new partner in as many Saturday innings’ when young up and coming left hand batsman Neil Flack joined him to get Greenock’s reply under way. Unfortunately for Neil , who has scored a bucket load of runs in 2 nd XI and junior age group matches this season, he chased a ball outside of his off stump from the last ball of Scott McElnea’s first over and offered a fairly straightforward catch to wicketkeeper Neil Smith. Prabhu and pro Mpho Sekhoto were then looking good for a sizeable partnership until Scott McElnea got a ball to move well off the pitch and which then took Sekhoto’s off stump.

The best partnership of the Greenock innings then took place between Prabhu and Richie Berrington. Sixty seven runs flowed in just fifteen overs as these two picked off easy singles and also helped themselves to a number of boundaries. It looked as though they had the measure of what Ayr had to offer and were untroubled until a third change of bowling introduced the experienced Dougie Johnstone into proceedings. His slow, flighted deliveries quickly created an uncertainty in choice of shot from both batsmen and in just his second over gained the breakthrough Ayr had been looking for. Richie Berrington was enticed into a false shot and and paid the penalty. Henderson took a simple catch as the ball lobbed up towards cover and the Greenock batsman was gone for 31 runs.

Alex Baum joined Shailesh Prabhu and the momentum built up by the previous partnership continued until Prabhu had just reached his fifty. Once again it was Johnstone who got the wicket. Prabhu, attempting to hit an inviting delivery straight for six, failed to get sufficient power on the ball to reach the long boundary and perished as the ball was pouched safely in the hands of Robert Borland in the deep.

At 112 for the loss of four wickets in the 28th over, Greenock were still on target for the total they were chasing, but the loss of the top four batsmen gave Ayr the advantage at this stage.

Jonathan Hempsey and Baum looked to be settling into a decent rhythm until Hempsey (11) returned a simple catch to Johnstone to give him his third wicket of the innings. The balance had now swung in Ayr’s favour and Greenock began to look distinctly unsettled. Greenock captain Ryan Begley and Baum tried to keep the run rate at the required level but were pinned back to just three runs an over as Ayr gained the upper hand and when opening bowler Scott McElnea came back into the attack he made an immediate and crucial change to the game. With the very first ball of his new spell he had Begley (13) caught by his brother Andy, and just two balls later, Baum who had been holding the innings together playing sensibly and picking up ones and twos, lost concentration and gave a second catch to Robert Borland. He had scored 43 runs.

Ayr were now totally in control with Greenock seven wickets down and requiring fifty runs from just seven overs. A minor miracle was needed for the Glenpark side and it did not come. Instead, the last three wickets fell for just three more runs as the visitors tried in vain to make scoring shots. McElnea and Callum Leck cleaned up the tail and the game finshed with Greenock 46 runs short of the Ayr total with just under four overs remaining.

McElnea with 5 wickets for 25 runs was the top bowler in terms of wickets taken but it was the ex-Morton defender, Dougie Johnstone with his slow tempting deliveries who was the home side’s match winner having almost single-handedly destroyed the Greenock middle order.