Greenock face Kelburne in another Renfrewshire derby

Greenock play the first of three home fixtures in four weeks when Kelburne come calling at Glenpark on Saturday. It is a game which Greenock need to use to get back on to a winning track and consolidate their position in the CSL West Division One.

Last Saturday against Ferguslie, the frailties of the Greenock batting line-up once again proved a major part of the team’s downfall when the top four failed to find any meaningful runs at Meikleriggs and only a last wicket partnership of over 30 runs provided some sense of face-saving for the Glenparkers as they still lost the match by 83 runs..

In the field also, however, Greenock must learn to hammer home any advantage which they gain from early wickets or when the opposition gets into difficulty in their innings. On occasions this season, Greenock have been in very good positions bowling first and teams have been able to recover and build an innings which has been sufficient to win the match. The Glenpark men need to be much more determined and offer no quarter when teams are down.

Significantly, it was against Kelburne in the side’s early season league encounter at Whitehaugh that Greenock first managed pull defeat from the jaws of victory. Batting first Kelburne were in deep trouble at 41 for 8 but still managed to reach 113 all out. Greenock then went in to bat and suffered a shattering collapse to be all out for just 64 in thirty overs. Last Saturday at Meikleriggs a similar scenario played out as Ferguslie were 41 for 4 with their four frontline batsmen all removed but recovered to 204 all out.

In boxing parlance, when Greenock have a team on the ropes, they need to land the knockout punch.

Cricket is a game in which statistics are regularly referred to as matches are analysed. This season the stats which stand out for Greenock and give a pointer to at least some reasons for certain disappointing performances, are the number of ‘wides’ and ‘no balls’ which have been conceded. In the twelve Saturday Scottish Cup and CSL Division One fixtures played to date, Greenock bowlers have sent down an average of 16 ‘wides’ and 2 ‘no balls’ per game. This equates to three extra overs for the opposition to score from. It also means 18 ‘free’ runs added to their total plus the runs which may be scored from the extra deliveries. Greenock must greatly reduce these free gifts to their opponents.

Also a challenge regularly faced by Greenock throughout the season has been getting a team at or near to what might be considered full strength available for Saturday matches. International commitments, work, holidays and injuries have frequently disrupted the consistency of the team taking to the field. And so it is once again this weekend. Out are Richie Berrington and Alex Baum both on international duties for Scotland and captain Shailesh Prabhu who is unavailable this weekend and next.

Back into the side for Saturday’s game against Kelburne come Ben Peterson and Sam Sanghera, both of whom played important roles in the excellent win by the Glenpark XI over their high performing Ferguslie counterparts at Glenpark last weekend. Peterson with 41 runs and seven overs, 1 wicket for 12 runs plus two important catches was in good form as was Sanghera who bowled ten overs, 2 wickets for 44 runs, took a catch and had a superb direct hit run out.

Joining Peterson and Sanghera in the Greenock team on Saturday will be Neil Fleming who played for Greenock some years ago and is available for the next few weeks. Fleming will provide a leg-spin option and bat in the lower middle order.

Kelburne’s form, like that of Greenock, has been inconsistent. Two weeks ago in their Paisley derby match against Ferguslie, the Whitehaugh team recorded a notable win in a high scoring game at Meikleriggs. Last Saturday , however, they failed to chase down a very modest 115 run total set by Weirs in a match at Whitehaugh.

Key players in the Paisley side’s batting line-up will be former Scottish internationalists Qasim Sheikh and Omar Hussain. Both have the potential to make big runs but, if they are removed early, then there are few others in the Kelburne side who have made any sizeable scores this season.

Dougie Wylie, well known as a former Greenock player, is very capable of scoring runs towards the end of the innings, but it is his bowling for which he is best known. Wylie was a regular wicket-taker with his left-arm spin in his days at Glenpark and Greenock will wish to ensure that he does not inflict any pain against them on Saturday.

If the weather is fine, then with Glenpark in excellent condition, an entertaining match is in prospect. It is one which Greenock must look to win. Of the four games already played this season between the two teams Greenock have won three. They therefore start favourites in terms of previous form and the selected team for the match will be keen to justify that label. The match will start at 12 noon.

Greenock Cricket Club is grateful to acknowledge that Saturday’s 1st XI match versus Kelburne is kindly sponsored by  Fyfe and Murray, Solicitors.

The Glenpark XI are away to Whitehaugh, the second eleven of Kelburne on Saturday. After last week's splendid win over Meikleriggs, hopes would be high of a repeat performance against the other Paisley team. Unfortunately the changes to the 1st XI, coupled with the unavailability of some of last week's Glenpark team, mean that the side that will go on to the park on Saturday will be significantly weaker than that which played last week. This has been an ongoing problem for the team this season. The match will start at 1pm.

The Hillend XI have no game this week.