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Greenock return to Scottish Cup action at Renfrew

Greenock begin the second half of their season 2013 cricket programme by returning to Scottish Cup action this weekend with a match at Renfrew. The first half of the Scottish Cup sectional matches took place in late April/early May and now the reverse fixtures against Renfrew, Grange and Dundee HSFP take place over the next three Saturdays.

Greenock have two wins and one defeat as their record from the first phase and will be keen to at least emulate that from the second phase in order to progress either in the main competition or at worst in the Cricket Scotland Trophy competition as sectional runners up.

The match against Renfrew in late April resulted in a good win for Greenock with New Zealander Fraser Colson scoring 75 not out in his first match for the club. He has been a consistent performer with the bat for Greenock since then, compiling almost 500 runs in the first half of the team’s 2013 programme.

Colson’s contribution on Saturday will again be very valuable as Greenock seek to gain a win which could ensure at least second top spot, as visitors Renfrew have only one win to their name from the opening three Scottish Cup sectional matches and will be second favourites when they go to play top Edinburgh side Grange in two weeks time.

A good batting performance from the Greenock team as a whole is what is needed on Saturday. Each week it seems that at least one of the side steps up to the mark and provides batting assistance to Colson. Last Saturday, Alex Baum batted exceptionally well for his 77 runs and in recent matches there have also been good scores from Chris Hempsey and Neil Flack, but there has been little consistency from players.

Bowling and fielding wise, Greenock must develop much more discipline and focus. Last Saturday, the Glenparkers leaked 23 extras whereas their opponents Stenhousemuir conceded just one extra. It is not just the runs from these extras which is a problem, but the additional balls which are then bowled provide opportunities for further run scoring from opponents.

Out of the side once again this weekend is Richie Berrington who is involved in Scotland’s upcoming T20, One Day and ICC four day internationals against Kenya.

Renfrew, tomorrow’s opposition 20 miles up the M8 at their relatively new ground at Deanpark, will be keen to gain a win themselves. Doing so would bring them level on points in the section with Greenock, and give them a hope of progressing to the knock out stage of either the main Scottish Cup competition or the CS Trophy competition......but Greenock will want to ensure that does not happen!

However, Renfrew do have a win over Greenock this season, having been victorious in an evening West League Cup match in May and that will be a confidence booster for them. They are also now a Premier Division side and on that basis will feel superior to Greenock at present.

In the top league Renfrew have won only a single game out of four completed. That was at Cambusdoon against Ayr when , thanks largely to professional Ahmed Said scoring a brilliant innings of 124, they amassed 272 for 6 and then bowled Ayr out for 198. As well as Said being a very important player for them, Renfrew have been very well served by Shahid Abbassi who normally bats at number three or four for his side. Abbassi has been the most consistent player in the Renfrew side in their Premier Division matches with scores of 36 (Dumfries), 55 (Ayr), 66 (Uddingston) and 47 (Drumpellier).

If batting is the strong hand for Renfrew, then bowling may be viewed as being their weaker suit as Premier Division sides have been able to amass significant scores to achieve the wins against them.

So the scene is set for an interesting encounter at Deanpark on Saturday afternoon, with both sides eager for the win which would provide the opportunity for advancement to the next stage of the Scottish Cup competitions. At time of writing, Greenock have chosen a squad of twelve from which a final selection will be made, youngsters Harry Briggs and Fraser Godsman being added to last week's team with one of them to replace Berrington.

The Glenpark XI  are also in cup action this Saturday, when they take on Deanpark in a Western Cup fixture at Glenpark which will start at 1.00pm. Like the 1st XI, the Glenparkers have cup action in the next three weeks, playing the reverse fixtures from the start of the season. Having won just 1 of those ealry fixtures, a win on Saturday is a must if they are to progress in this competition.

On Sunday, the Hillend XI are away to Irvine in a WDCU Sunday League fixture. After the disappointment of having last week's game called off, the team will be keen to get on the park to seek their first playing win of the season.