Greenock face a testing challenge from Grange

Greenock begin their competitive programme for the 2013 season with a Scottish Cup sectional opener against Grange at Glenpark on Saturday. It is as tough an opening fixture as Greenock could have been given as the Edinburgh side are one of the strongest sides in the country and last season were the winners of the Cricket Scotland Trophy and runners-up in the CSL Eastern Premier Division.

However, an early season encounter might just work in Greenock’s favour as most Grange players may not yet have had much, if any, match practice and so will be feeling their way when play gets started on Saturday afternoon.

The Scottish Cup is once again being played in small league sections where each club plays the others in the section both at home and away. Greenock are pitched against Grange, Renfrew and Dundee HSFP with the section winner qualifying for the quarter-final knockout stage and the team finishing in second spot proceeding to the quarter final knockout stage of the Cricket Scotland Trophy.

For Saturday’s match, Greenock will be without either of their overseas players. Australian pace bowler, 21 year old Tom Batters arrives this weekend but too late to play against Grange, while New Zealander Fraser Colson, who is a 23 year old top order bat, is due to arrive in the next week.

Greenock skipper, Shailesh Prabhu

The local side did manage a season opener last Saturday with a win against Hillhead in a friendly encounter at Glenpark. Shailesh Prabhu, Greenock’s new 1st XI captain, was pleased to get the game played and stated, “It was a tremendous effort by groundsman Roger Hardie to get this game on following the terrible weather which we have experienced in recent weeks. The lads provided a promising start to the season and there were particularly pleasing performances from young Neil Flack and also from Waleed Jamal”.

Prabhu has a reasonably strong eleven available for Saturday’s match with Grange although the absence of both overseas players will mean that the team is missing a couple of players whom the Club will be hoping will add significant strength in both the batting and bowling departments.

In the side to play Grange is Greenock’s Scottish internationalist Richie Berrington. He has the experience and ability to be a matchwinner as he can damage opponents with both bat and ball. He will likely bat at number three with Prabhu electing to open with perhaps Neil Flack who scored an unbeaten 52 last Saturday or Alex Baum who had an excellent tour to Sri Lanka with the Scotland Under 19 side in March.

Others who Greenock will be keen to see adding runs in the middle order will be brothers Chris Hempsey and Jonathan Hempsey both of whom have shown in recent seasons a capability to compile good innings.

Waleed Jamal

In the field, the Glenpark side will look to Waleed Jamal , Richie Berrington, Jonathan Hempsey and Greg McDougall to do most of the bowling work with Mark Robertson and Dave Sharma also likely to take some of the overs. Jamal looked sharp against Hillhead and twice hit the stumps when his pace was too much for the visitors batsmen and in tomorrow’s game against Grange his speed and accuracy should cause the Edinburgh side some problems. Accuracy is a key for Greenock’s bowlers as they must look to find a consistent good line and length with their deliveries.

In 2013 Grange are being captained by Neil McCallum, who only recently retired from international cricket after many years being a key player for the Saltires. His side will be a strong one with plenty of experience and will be a significant early test for Greenock.

The Scottish Cup sectional match is scheduled to begin at 12noon at Glenpark.

Greenock Cricket Club is grateful to acknowledge that Saturday’s match versus Grange is kindly sponsored by CICS Limited.

The Glenpark XI also start their competitive season this Saturday with a Western Cup tie against Helensburgh at Ardencaple. No team selection is yet available but it is likely that at this early stage of the season, the team will have a somewhat makeshift look to it, with a mix of the young, the old, and maybe even the very old being involved.