Greenock look to defeat league leaders

After 3 weeks of ultimately unrewarding Scottish Cup action, Greenock’s 1 st XI return to league action on Saturday when they take on CSL Western First Division League leaders, East Kilbride at Glenpark in the first of the reverse set of league fixtures.

As the first league fixture between the two teams was cancelled due to the May rains, Greenock go into this match without much knowledge of their opponents other than they are having a very successful season. Top of the league with a 100% record from 4 games, close runners-up to Premier side Clydesdale in their Scottish Cup Group and semi-finalists in the CSL40 Cup (where they play Greenock), East Kilbride are clearly a team on the up.

Greenock currently sit 4 th in the league, having won two and lost two matches and if they are to have any chance of winning the league and gaining promotion to the West Premier Division, then they simply must win this game.

If they are to do so, then their bowlers will need to be on top form. East Kilbride possess a strong batting line-up which has racked up a number of totals of over 200 this season. South African Gary Kleinveldt and Stewart Kampman, son of the legendary Brian Kampman, have both scored heavily all season and have received good support from Craig Smith, skipper Harry Singh, Peter Bocock and Umair Saeed.

Last Saturday, they scored 296 against West Lothian with Kampman scoring 90 and Saeed 79 whilst the previous week they chased down 256 against East Premier Division side, SMRH with Kleinveldt scoring 83. Greenock have been well warned of the Lanarkshire side’s strength.

On the bowling front, East Kilbride would appear to be not quite as strong but that is not to say that they pose no threat. Kampman and Kleinveldt tend to be the spearheads and they are supported by Saeed, ex-Uddingston youngster Josh Johnston and the veteran off-spinner Shahid Mahmood.

At the time of writing, Greenock have named a squad for 13 from whom they will select the final eleven. Definitely out is Neil Flack who is on holiday but to balance that, Chris Hempsey returns, having missed last week’s facile win over Dundee HSFP. Richie Berrington is included but his prospects of playing may be limited. Having missed out last weekend, due to a shoulder injury, he was still not fit enough to captain the Scottish Reivers against the Dutch North Seafarers at Ayr in midweek and he must be considered a big doubt for Saturday.

Should Berrington not regain fitness for Saturday, this will put more pressure on to the other Greenock players to perform and in particular, Fraser Colson who has had an outstanding season to date. It will be really important that he gets good support and for this Greenock will look to skipper Prabhu, who returned to form last weekend with a fine 70, and Alex Baum, who both have the ability to make big scores. The Hempsey brothers and Greg McDougall will also be key if a good score is to be achieved.

Opening bowlers Batters and Jamal must look to make early breakthroughs into the East Kilbride batting and if they can do this, then there are plenty of options for Prabhu to press home the advantage with the likes of Jonathan Hempsey and Greg McDougall, backed by the off-spin of Colson. All the bowlers must look to keep their discipline and ensure that the opposition are not given too many free runs from extras as has been the case in earlier games.

The current spell of hot and sunny weather will have dried out Glenpark. This should ensure a pitch that suits the batsman whilst the outfield will be hard and fast meaning that any shot that beats the field will more often than not reach the boundary. Spectators should therefore be treated to a high-scoring encounter, one which Greenock are capable of winning but which they will only do so if they play to their full capabilities.

As previously stated, a squad of 13 has been selected for the match, which will start at 12 noon.

The Glenpark XI travel to Lanarkshire to take on the 2nd XI of East Kilbride, Torrance House in the WDCU CSL First Reserve League. In truth this has been a disappointing season for Greenock’s 2nd XI with the continuing inability to field anything like a settled side being a major factor. Injuries, holidays and enforced absences have all combined to take their toll. The match at Torrance House should start at 1pm.

The Hillend XI feature in Greenock’s T20 festival competition on Sunday at Glenpark. Along with teams from Helensburgh, Innellan and Kilmacolm, Hillend will do battle for the much coveted trophy. With more sunny weather forecast for the day, it is hoped that a good crowd will attend Glenpark to watch what is sure to be some entertaining cricket. The first match will start at 11am and play will continue throughout the day.

Greenock are very grateful to CICS Limited and the Bryceland Family for their sponsorship of this event.