New season gets underway for Greenock

The 2013 cricket season gets underway for Greenock Cricket Club this weekend with two pre-season friendly matches, both at Glenpark. On Saturday, Hillhead are the visitors while on Sunday, Drumpellier travel along the M8 from Coatbridge to provide the opposition.

Preparations for these games have been severely hampered by the cold weather that has been the case for the past few weeks. Groundsman Roger Hardie has been unable to do any meaningful work on the square or outfield and the raw east wind has dried out the ground to such an extent that rain, for once, is urgently required. In addition, much of last year’s end of season work could not be carried out due to the relentless rain that fell at that time. No wonder Roger is feeling that Mother Nature is conspiring against him at the moment. A wicket has been cut for the games, and it is quite hard, but there is no guarantee as to how it will play.

Greenock will be hoping to field reasonably strong sides for both of the weekend fixtures. Richie Berrington, one of Scotland’s most talented players, will play in at least one of the matches and get his first taste of outdoor cricket in Scotland for this season, in conditions which are likely to be a few degrees cooler than when he was recently in the United Arab Emirates with the Scotland international XI. With fewer Scotland fixtures taking place this summer that will impinge upon him from playing for Greenock, Berrington should be available to turn out for his home team more regularly than was the case during 2012 and much will be expected from him as the locals look to be a whole lot more competitive in both league and cup competitions in the season ahead.

Captain of cricket at Glenpark for 2013 is opening bat Shailesh Prabhu who has played in the 1st XI for several seasons and he is looking forward to the opening fixtures. “This is an important season for us and we are looking forward to being a much more competitive unit than was the case for most of last summer. We have a good squad of players and with the addition of two top quality amateurs in our team, I believe we will do well this season”.

Greenock’s overseas amateurs for 2013 are Tom Batters from Australia and Fraser Colson from New Zealand. Batters, contrary to his name, is an opening pace bowler who plays 1 st Grade cricket for Essendon Cricket Club in Victoria, Australia. The Victorian Premier League is one of the most competitive club cricket leagues anywhere in the world and Batters has gained considerable experience playing alongside Test and state players over the last couple of seasons.

Colson is a top order bat who played for New Zealand Under 19s in the 2008 Under 19s World Cup in Malaysia. Since then he has gone on to play for Wellington A and also to captain his own club side Lower Hutt in Wellington. He has been a consistent run scorer in recent seasons and Greenock will be hoping that he can bring his good form to Glenpark. Neither player will feature this weekend, as they have still to arrive in Greenock, which is probably just as well, given the weather.

Also in the Greenock line-ups this weekend against Hillhead and Drumpellier will be Alex Baum, Jonathan Hempsey, Chris Hempsey, Waleed Jamal, Aidan Forrest, Greg McDougall, Mark Robertson and Neil Flack. Baum has just returned from a two week tour to Sri Lanka with the Scotland Under 19 side where he performed well. Jonathan Hempsey is a medium paced right arm bowler who has gained experience in the Premier League over the last few seasons and who can also score runs in the latter stages of an innings. His brother Chris is a powerful batsman who has the ability to compile quick runs.

Aidan Forrest is a young player for whom Greenock have high hopes and who has gained 1st XI experience in the last year. Greg McDougall has shown that he can contribute well at 1st XI level with both wickets and runs in last season’s campaign. Waleed Jamal will almost certainly spearhead the Greenock bowling attack this summer alongside Tom Batters giving the local side a very potent opening partnership.

Neil Flack is an up and coming young player who at just 15 has already gained international recognition at age group level and for whom Greenock have high hopes for the future. Finally, former 2nd XI captain Mark Robertson may feature in the side over the weekend. He is an experienced player who is capable of scoring runs and also taking wickets with his off spin bowling.

Richie Berrington will continue in his role of Club Coach for season 2013 and will look to bring out the best in a Glenpark squad which, while largely youthful, is undoubtedly talented. He will be assisted by the two overseas amateurs who will also be heavily involved with the Club’s junior age group teams.

Weather permitting, both matches will start at 1pm.