Greenock aim to maintain winning run when they take on Poloc

Fresh from their opening league win last weekend at Prestwick, Greenock host Glasgow side Poloc at Glenpark on Saturday afternoon. Pride was restored after the calamitous loss at Kelburne, as Greenock made no mistake at the Henry Thow Oval, Prestwick, last Saturday to win by four wickets. The early ‘feel good factor’ which the team had built up from two good Scottish Cup wins will hopefully now have returned.

Nothing runs smoothly for the Glenparkers however, as Skipper Shailesh Prabhu is unavailable this weekend along with wicketkeeper Alex Baum, and internationalist Richie Berrington also remains on the sidelines for Greenock due to Scotland playing a four day match against Australia ‘A’ in Edinburgh . So it is a significantly less than full strength side which Greenock will field against Poloc on Saturday.

Fortunately, the players who will come into the team to fill the positions left vacant by these players’ unavailability, all have 1 st team experience and each is capable of contributing well.

Vice-captain Jonathan Hempsey will take charge of the team for the first time on CSL league business and he will be keen that his team turn in a good performance in front of the home support at Glenpark. If the recent dry, sunny spell can continue into the weekend then overseas players Fraser Colson and Tom Batters will be feeling more at home after their initial weeks of wind, rain and wintry-like weather.

Both of Greenock’s overseas players have shown in the games to date that they can produce form which gives confidence to their team-mates. New Zealander, Fraser Colson has had a number of fine innings, with three fifties to his name already, and perhaps a century just waiting in the wings. He has also shown himself to be a handy change bowler with his off spin.

Aussie Tom Batters is a fine bowler with speed and accuracy which has had opposition players in difficulty in several matches, and to date he has picked up 14 wickets in the 1 st XI matches in which he has played. He is also a decent bat and in last weekend’s Sunday XI fixture at Kilmarnock he top scored with a fine innings of 66.

Last Saturday’s opening batting partnership of Chris Hempsey and Neil Flack will almost certainly be used once again and, with both batsmen in good recent form, a sound start to the innings would be the ideal platform for the team to build upon. Fraser Colson will look forward to playing at Glenpark , where the well maintained wicket and outfield gives batsmen full value from their shots and the opportunity of building a big innings. The New Zealander will be keen to put on a good display for the home supporters.

Greenock’s young side has numerous players of potential and it is in games such as this Saturday’s that they have the opportunity to shine. Apart from Chris Hempsey and Neil Flack, who will likely open the innings, players such as Jonathan Hempsey, Ben Peterson, Aidan Forrest and Harry Briggs need to show application to build their innings when they get out to the middle and, if the situation allows, not be over eager in their search for runs. Time at the crease more often than not brings runs to the batsmen who can have patience to stay and develop partnerships.

In the bowling attack, Greg McDougall has captured several three wicket hauls this season already and, when he is on form, is a potent player for Greenock. Waleed Jamal too, with his pace, is a bowler for whom opposition batsmen need to have care. He is Greenock’s top wicket-taker so far with 15 ‘victims’, including a 5 wicket haul against Dundee HSFP, and with no fewer than nine clean bowled. Jonathan Hempsey, with 12 wickets to his name in matches played, is a more than useful change bowler whose medium pace and swing has brought regular reward.

What the Greenock bowlers must do is to cut down the number of extras that they concede. Last week against Prestwick they gave away 38 runs in this way, including a ridiculous 28 wides. In comparison, Prestwick only conceded 13 extras, with just 8 wides awarded against them. That deficit of 25 could have been crucial had the match been closer. The one-day laws do call for bowlers to maintain a very strict line, with no leeway whatsover given for anything bowled down the leg-side but it is the same for both teams and Greenock must make sure that they do not hand the opposition an advantage.

Visitors Poloc have had a less than positive start to their 2013 season with just one competitive win from five Saturday starts which was five weeks ago on the first weekend in May at Penicuik. The Southsiders have suffered heavy defeats from Ayr (all out 98), Stoneywood Dyce (all out 50) and East Kilbride (all out 124). But last Saturday, although losing out once again to Ferguslie on their home patch at Shawholm, Poloc put 165 on the board before Ferguslie got home with three wickets to spare.

Greenock must look to keep South African born, now New Zealander, Carl Huyser under wraps. He has been Poloc’s mainstay with both bat and ball in the matches played to date and while it is not a one man team, Huyser is undoubtedly their key player. He has been the Glasgow side’s overseas player for several seasons, is well used to Scottish conditions and is a very consistent performer. Get rid of him when he bats and keep him at bay when he bowls and Greenock should be well placed to win this fixture.

Once again it will be for all players in the team to consider their own personal roles in the side and play to their abilities in order to give the team the performance of which it is capable. That done, visitors Poloc should find their journey to Glenpark a winless one.

Greenock Cricket Club is grateful to acknowledge that Saturday’s 1st XI match versus Poloc is kindly sponsored by  Clyde Carriers.

The Glenpark XI  were disappointed to lose last Saturday to St Ninians and will be keen to reverse that when they take on Poloc's second string, the Shawholm XI in Glasgow on saturday. The usual mix of young and old have been included in a squad of 14 for the game which will start at 1.00pm.

On Sunday, the Hillend XI are at home to Ferguslie in a WDCU Sunday League Division 3 - South match. These games give the younger players in the club the opportunity to sample a longer game than they are used to, backed up by a few more experienced players. Last Sunday, they just lost to Kilmarnock in a close encounter and will be keen to go a step further this Sunday. The match is due to start at 1.00pm.