Greenock fall short at Dumfries as league season resumes

APD Dumfries v Greenock 1st XI
CSL Western Premier Division
Saturday 21st July 2012

Greenock 1st XI 115 (0 pts) SS Prabhu 31; S Beveridge 5 for 26, C McCutcheon 3 for 21
Dumfries 118 for 5 (10 pts) S Beveridge 38*


League cricket resumed for Greenock on Saturday after a three-week break for the Scottish Cup sectional games to be finished. First up for the locals was the long journey to Dumfries to take on a side which was brim-full of confidence, sitting in 2nd place in the league table and through to the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup.

In common with most, if not all, clubs in Scotland, Dumfries had struggled to cope with the heavy and persistent rain of the last few weeks and this was evident in the state of the match pitch which was soft with a green tinge and was clearly not going to be easy to bat on. Whoever won the toss was obviously going to insert the opposition so that when Greenock skipper, Ryan Begley, called incorrectly, nobody was surprised when Dumfries elected to bat.

Greenock actually made a very positive start and after just 7 overs had reached 44 for the loss of Alex Baum who had given a return catch to Druce when he had scored just 7. Shailesh Prabhu and professional Mpho Sekhoto took advantage of anything that was short, which on the soft pitch sat up and just asked to be put away, and were getting on top of the bowling.

However, when the total had reached 48, there came the first major turning point of the game. Prabhu hit another short ball over the slips and down to the unprotected third man area. The batsmen ran two and Sekhoto called for what he thought was a straightforward third run. But he had not reckoned on the strength of the arm of ex-Greenock player, Chris Bellwood, whose throw from the boundary hit the stumps directly with the South African short of his ground. Now, you can say that this was a fluke, which it was, and that Sekhoto could have made a greater effort to reach the crease, but there is no doubt that the momentum of the game changed with this dismissal.

The Greenock middle-order batting is short of confidence at the moment, with the players struggling to adapt to the slow and difficult pitches, and the lack of quality practice time, again due to the weather, has not helped. This was evident in the rest of the innings as each batsman in turn struggled to play the bowling on its merits but rather opted for crease retention. When they did try to force the pace, then they paid the price. Jonathan Hempsey greeted the introduction of the slow left-hander, Scott Beveridge by taking 10 off his first over, including the only six of the innings, but thereafter the Aussie had the last laugh, taking 5 wickets for just 26 runs in 8.5 overs.

Only Greg McDougall really took the fight to the bowling and he finished not out on 19 with an aggressive cameo of an innings. For all their watchfulness, the Greenock batsmen again signally failed to see out the full 50 overs of the innings, being dismissed for 115 in the 37th over. This is a failing that is costing the team dearly. Another 40 or 50 runs, which could have been eked out in the 13 overs that were given up, would have made a huge difference to the complexion of the game. Prabhu (31), Jonathan Hempsey (16) and Sekhoto (14) joined McDougall in being the only Greenock batsmen to reach double figures.

In reply, Dumfries were shaken by the Greenock opening attack and quickly found themselves 19 for 3 as the pace of Waleed Jamal, bowling a full length, and the accurate spin of Mpho Sekhoto gained its reward. Geary and Corbett-Byers struggled to put together a partnership but the latter went for 12 to Sekhoto when the total had reached 49 and at this point the game was in the balance.

There now came two more turning points in the game, neither of which went in Greenock’s favour. Firstly, a very confident shout for LBW against Geary to the first ball bowled by Greg McDougall was turned down by the umpire and not long after this Beveridge offered a chance to Jamal which he was a little slow to react to and which he just failed to get a hand on. Had either or both of these incidents gone the other way, then Greenock would have fancied their chances.

Although Geary was dismissed for 27 when the score had reached 70, lbw to Jonathan Hempsey, this was to be the last success for Greenock as Beveridge (38*) and Tom McBride (20*), none too convincingly, saw Dumfries to victory. They did at least show Greenock the benefits of hitting the bad ball to the boundary whilst maintaining a watchful defence and this is a policy that the Greenock batsmen need to adopt in future games as it is likely that pitches for the rest of the season will not be batsmen-friendly. For Greenock, Jamal and Sekhoto both had an analysis of 2 for 32 whilst Jonathan Hempsey took 1 for 28 in his spell.

Results elsewhere in the League saw Dumfries go to the top of the table whilst Greenock slumped to bottom position. However, there were signs in the second innings that all is not lost for Greenock. Skipper Ryan Begley was especially pleased by the effort and intensity shown by the bowlers and fielders, something that has not always been evident this season and similar showings in the remaining six league games, allied to more positive batting, and perhaps the rub of the green, would bring the wins that will be needed to allow the club to maintain its position in the CSL Western Premier Division.

Next up for the team is a home fixture on Saturday with Ayr, who will be in confident mood, having beaten the previous league leaders, West of Scotland, quite convincingly.