Greenock lose out by one run in a tense, dramatic finish

Greenock 1st XI v West of Scotland
CSL Western Premier Division
Saturday 18th August 2012

West of Scotland 154 for 7 (10 pts) R Martin 58
Greenock 1st XI 153 for 8 (2 pts) RD Berrington 43, MR Sekhoto 38; JAR Blain 3 for 25


What a difference one run makes. After five hours of play and thirty five overs per side, Greenock failed by just one run to match McCrea West of Scotland’s score and by two runs to win the match. In a tense, dramatic last three overs, Greenock had the Glenpark crowd on tenterhooks as the team came so close to gaining what would have been a remarkable, but well deserved win. In the end, it was McCrea West who were victors, but by the most slender of margins.

Due to heavy overnight rain and a further sharp shower around 9am, the scheduled start of the match had to be delayed from 12noon until 3pm. As a consequence the 50 overs per side match had to be reduced to 35 overs per side. At the toss, West got the call wrong and Greenock skipper Ryan Begley had no hesitation in asking the visitors to bat first.

West made a slow, faltering start losing both openers by the end of the fourth over and with only 15 runs on the board. Waleed Jamal claimed both wickets having Stuart Murray LBW and Jatinder Singh well caught by Aidan Forrest. By the end of the 19th over, the visitors had progressed to just 54 and had lost a further two wickets including the prized scalp of the highly dangerous and experienced former Scottish Internationalist Dougie Lockhart who was very smartly caught by wicket-keeper Alex Baum off the bowling of Greg McDougall for just 9 runs.

Richard Martin and Ross Brown gradually brought West back into the game with a 53 run, fifth wicket partnership which ended when Brown (20) was well caught by Jonathan Hempsey near the boundary at the Bedford Street end of the ground off the bowling of Greenock pro Mpho Sekhoto. At this point West were 104 for 5 after 26 overs.

Greenock captain Ryan Begley took his second catch of the afternoon to dismiss Martin (58) when the West batsman mis-timed a delivery from Greg McDougall which made the visitors 108 for 5 in the 27th over.

So with just eight overs remaining, Greenock may have been hoping to contain West to around 140. The Partick side pushed on, however, and managed to reach 154 thanks to some lusty blows in the closing stages, which included a massive six into a Bedford Street garden by David McNulty off the very last ball, which proved to be a very significant shot in the eventual outcome of the match.

Greenock’s reply got off to the worst possible start with Alex Baum beaten first ball by the fiery pace of former Yorkshire county and Scottish internationalist John Blain. Shailesh Prabhu, Greenock’s other opening bat, also went early when Blain got a ball to just edge the stump as it sped down the leg side and ended up at the boundary. Unfortunately for Prabhu, the bails were off and he was out.

South African pro Mpho Sekhoto and Richie Berrington then put their experience to good use as they steadied the home side’s innings and gradually took the sting out of the West bowling attack. Runs gradually accumulated although the run rate rarely got above three per over. With eight wickets in hand however, Greenock were well placed to reach their target.

An important turning point came in the 25th over with the score on 87 when Sekhoto was well caught for 38 off the bowling of Richard Martin by Jatinder Singh low down at mid on. The breakthrough visibly lifted the visitors and within five more overs a further two wickets, including that of Berrington (43), had been gained. At 104 for 5 after 29 overs, Greenock had moved from a position of strength to one where the team was now in real difficulty. Only six overs remained and 51 runs were needed for victory.

With three overs remaining Greenock still required 33 runs and had lost a sixth wicket. A win seemed impossible. But when Ryan Begley and Waleed Jamal scored 15 runs from the third last over with Jamal hitting a massive six into Fox Street and also a boundary, all of a sudden the outcome had altered. A further seven runs came from second last over but with the loss of Begley bowled for 20 off the very last ball by McNulty.

Greg McDougall joined Jamal in the middle. Ten runs were now needed from the last over. Six balls to determine the winner. Jamal hit two runs from the first ball bowled by Ian Cran followed by a single, and then McDougall hit a boundary to leave Greenock needing four runs from the final three balls of the match.

A single from McDougall was followed by another single by Jamal to leave the outcome of the game to be determined entirely on the very last ball. Two runs needed by Greenock to win the match and one run to tie.

Left arm bowler Cran sent down a pacey, good length ball which McDougall smashed towards Fox Street. As the ball flew through the air, Jatinder Singh, running in from the boundary, dived full length forward to take an outstanding catch close to the ground to win the game for West and denied Greenock what would have been either a tied match or a fantastic win.

In the end, it was a bitter blow for the Glenparkers to finish so near yet so far. However, on the positive side of the outcome, Greenock showed that as a team there was a determination not to give up but rather to seek out the win, and they so nearly achieved it.

Waleed Jamal played a huge role in the final, exciting act scoring 22 not out having gone to the middle with Greenock requiring 37 runs from the last 20 balls of the match.

Whoever said cricket is a boring game should have been at Glenpark on Saturday !!

As the late commentator on cricket Sir Neville Cardus once stated, “A sudden bad stroke, a good ball, a superb catch. In no other game do events of import hang so bodefully on a single act.” It was so true of Saturday’s match. Well done to both teams for a great game which was watched in glorious sunshine by Glenpark’s biggest crowd of the season.