Tough task for Greenock in Edinburgh

The 1st XI make the journey through to the capital on Saturday to take on Grange at Raeburn Place in the latest Scottish Cup sectional qualifying game.

Realistically, any hopes of qualifying from their section will depend on Greenock winning this game. Currently, they lie third in their group with 4 points, one behind Renfrew and three behind the leaders Grange. Dundee HSFP bring up the rear, having lost all 4 games to date. With just two games left, defeat to Grange would mean that Greenock’s hopes of qualifying would depend on Renfrew losing their game on Saturday against Dundee HSFP, and the bookies would make Renfrew very strong favourites to win that match.

So what chance does Greenock have? Grange have been for many years one of the pre-eminent clubs in Scotland, fielding a team that was studded with internationalists and representative players. This year they seem to have taken a decision to field a much younger team with some of their more experienced players such as Stuart Davidson and Giles Holmes dropping down to the 2nd XI. This move does not seem to have done them much harm as they currently sit third in the CSL Eastern Premier Division as well as on top of their Scottish Cup qualifying group.

They still have experience in the team through captain Neil McCallum and Gregor Maiden but youngsters such as George Munsey, Duncan Player, Chris Sole and Henry Edwards have taken their chance with both hands. Munsey, in particular, has been a revelation this season scoring plenty of runs as opening bat and looks to be a great prospect.

For their part, Greenock will not be able to field their best eleven. Richie Berrington is still in Aberdeen with the national team who are taking on Kenya in a series of 50 over, T20 and 4-day matches. Without Richie’s all-round abilities, Greenock will be weakened but there is still plenty of talent in the team who are well capable of giving Grange a run for their money.

With the bat, the team will look to New Zealander, Fraser Colson to continue his fine run of good scores. So far, a three-figure innings has eluded him but what better place to reach this target than at Scotland’s premier international ground. In recent weeks, Chris Hempsey, Alex Baum and Neil Flack have also scored well and skipper Shailesh Prabhu is due a good knock. The important thing will be to make sure that the 50 overs are batted out and to do that, it will be imperative that early wickets are not lost.

Bowling-wise, the opening attack of Batters and Jamal are well capable of making inroads into any batting line-up. What they will need is the assistance of the back-up bowlers, Jonathan Hempsey, Greg McDougall and Fraser Colson to keep the pressure on the Grange batsmen and there may be opportunities for Ben Peterson and debutant, Fraser Godsman to play their part as well.

The one thing that Greenock really need to concentrate on is their bowling discipline. Not for the first time last week, they conceded more wides and no balls than their opponents, and such profligacy cost them dear again. This is something that they just cannot afford to do on Saturday when they will be bowling on one of the best batting strips in Scotland. It’s not just the runs awarded for these extras that hurt, it is the additional deliveries that have to be bowled that give the opposition the chance to score more runs. And in the case of a no ball, that extra delivery is a free hit which in effect means that the batsman cannot be dismissed from that ball, other than by a run-out or by one of the more exotic cricketing dismissals, such as obstructing the field.

Greenock therefore are going to have their work cut out on Saturday to record a win but in any sport the little guy can have his day. Perhaps this Saturday will be Greenock’s.

The final selection for the match, which will start at 12 noon, will be made from a squad of twelve.

The Glenpark XI are at home on Saturday to Helensburgh in a Western Cup qualifying game that will start at 1pm. The team are really struggling at the moment, unable to field anything like a full-strength side due to holidays and injuries. Last week, they were heavily beaten by Deanpark (Renfrew’s 2 nd XI) by 206 runs and like their big brothers in the 1 st XI, they did not help their cause by giving away more than 60 wides. At the time of writing, the team is not known but it is to be hoped that they will be able to field a more competitive side than last week, against a side which to be fair is playing at a higher level.

Sunday sees the 1st XI travel to Coatbridge to play Drumpellier in the final sectional game of the CSL40 Cup. The equation in this game is quite simple. Whoever wins will qualify for the semi-finals and the real incentive for Greenock is the fact that the final will be played at Glenpark on 1 st September. Their opponents are having a really successful season in both the league and cups and will be extremely difficult to beat, especially on their own ground. It may, though, come down to who fields the stronger side as most clubs struggle to put out a full-strength side on a Sunday. This game will start at 1pm.