Greenock aim to bounce back in Renfrewshire derby

Following last weekend’s heavy defeat from league leaders East Kilbride at Glenpark, Greenock will be keen to bounce back on Saturday afternoon, and a derby match against Ferguslie provides the perfect opportunity for the local players to find their best form and get back into a winning way once again.

The long standing, generally very good-natured, rivalry between Ferguslie and Greenock will ensure that both sets of players are focused on being at their best, and the CSL West Division One league match at Meikleriggs should be an interesting encounter.

Greenock, for one of the very few occasions this summer, look likely to be able to field what is arguably their strongest side with holidays, work commitments, injury and internationals not interfering with player availability. No excuses then if the team performance does not measure up.

Shailesh Prabhu and Neil Flack will probably open the innings for Greenock with Fraser Colson, Richie Berrington and Alex Baum filling the top middle order positions. These first five batsmen, if they can stay in and develop partnerships, have the potential to build a big score for the Glenparkers. Chris Hempsey, who opened the innings last Saturday ,will likely drop down to number six where he is usually more comfortable and effective.

The remaining players who will fill what may be termed the lower order positions will be from Jonathan Hempsey, Ben Peterson, Aidan Forrest, Tom Batters, Greg McDougall and Waleed Jamal. They have all made some good scores this season, so each is capable of adding significant runs if needed.

In the field, Greenock’s bowling attack should present a formidable threat to the Ferguslie batsmen. The pace of opening bowlers Tom Batters and Waleed Jamal will certainly test the Meikleriggs top order. Batters is generally accurate and frugal, while Jamal tends to be very pacey but is sometimes lacking in directional discipline. Richie Berrington, if his shoulder injury is sufficiently improved to allow him to bowl, will also be likely to ruffle the Ferguslie batsmen with his pace and aggressive line.

Fraser Colson will provide a slow bowling option with his off breaks. His dramatically different pace has been an important alternative bowling option for Greenock, and regularly during the season opposition batsmen have lost their wicket trying to force runs while having to manufacture shots from his slower deliveries. Aidan Forrest too, if chosen to play, is developing as a spin bowler and in the last two league matches has been given his chance with the ball. Against Renfrew he picked up the wicket of overseas amateur Hendrieckse.

Medium pacers Jonathan Hempsey and Greg McDougall will be likely to make up the remainder of the bowling attack and both have enjoyed their best ever season with the ball at this level and taken approaching fifty first eleven wickets between them.

Ferguslie have won three out of the five CSL Division One matches which they have been able to complete and, like Greenock, had three matches in the first half of the league programme cancelled due to the wet weather, including the league match due to have been played at Glenpark. The sides have met on two occasions this season in midweek competition and honours are even. So Saturday’s game has the added importance of having bragging rights for the winner.

Last weekend Ferguslie lost to Kelburne in their Paisley derby match by just 27 runs in a high scoring affair. Michael English, who plays for Scotland’s U19 side along with Greenock’s Alex Baum, is their top player and against Kelburne hit a superb century, but his runs were not enough to see his side to success. The Meikleriggs side relies quite heavily on English for runs and Greenock must look to remove him early.

Their professional Keith Dabengwa has had few notable innings this summer and is not a bowler who has been regularly among the wickets for his side. The Glenpark men must ensure that his stats get no opportunity for improvement.

Greenock have recorded more wins than losses to date this season and some of the wins have been achieved with excellent all round player performances. A few matches have been lost in very closely contested games but others have been lost by a significant margin. On a number of occasions, it has been the failure to bat out the full fifty overs which has been the issue, but a lack of discipline and accuracy from various bowlers has also been a contributory factor, offering up a large number of ‘extras’ to assist and sometimes almost gift wrap wins for opponents.

There is no doubting that the current Greenock side is in transition. It is rebuilding with very largely local players after the ‘glory years’, when top players from around the country graced Glenpark and brought unparalleled success. The efforts of numerous members dedicated to bringing on young players through the junior ranks at Glenpark are beginning to bear fruit with the likes of teenagers Neil Flack, Aidan Forrest and Harry Briggs all gaining 1st XI opportunities this season. Other young players are being given playing opportunities in the 2nd XI and, with some further experience, and of course, players remaining in the area, then the prospects are once again looking positive....but patience will be necessary as young players need time to mature in the game of cricket.

Against Ferguslie on Saturday , a focused, determined approach from both batsmen and bowlers must be the aim of the Greenock team.

A squad of 12 has been selected for the match at Paisley which will start at 12 noon.

The Glenpark XI are at home to Meikleriggs, the second eleven of Ferguslie on Saturday. The team have not had their problems to seek this year and last week at Torrance House was no exception when a very young side was no match for their experienced opponents. This week with the 1st XI at full strength should see a much stronger side fielded against a team that is always very competitive. The match will start at 1pm.

The Hillend XI, fresh from their success in last week's T20 festival at Glenpark, are at Glenpark on Sunday in a league game with St Michaels from Dumfries. This game will start at 1pm.