Dismal start to league season for Greenock

Kelburne vs Greenock 1st XI
CSL Western First Division
Saturday 25th May 2013

Kelburne 113 J O'Connell 48; TW Batters 5 for 23, W Jamal 3 for 27
Greenock 1st XI 64 S Hamilton 4 for 19, S McLister 3 for 20


Greenock supporters were left wondering how this result at Whitehaugh in Paisley came about on Saturday in what was the opening league match of the season. From a seemingly invincible position at 2pm with Kelburne 63 for 9, Greenock let their opponents off the hook by allowing them to reach 113 all out and then capitulated in their own innings to be all out for 64.

The after match analysis will undoubtedly have focused on the batting performance, but had Kelburne not added fifty runs for their last wicket then perhaps the outcome would have been different. Young Jak O’Connell batting at number 9 for the home side was the difference on the day. He scored 48 priceless runs for his team and gave them encouragement from a position in which they had looked a beaten team.

It had all started so positively for Greenock. The toss was won. Kelburne were asked to bat and at 12noon the match began. Within the first over of play opener Matthew McMillan had been bowled by Greenock’s Aussie amateur Tom Batters. Just minutes later, Batters had Graeme Burgess brilliantly caught in the gully area by Jonathan Hempsey and then the dangerous Omar Hussain clean bowled, both batsmen out without scoring.

Batters continued to single-handedly dismantle the Kelburne line up as he had Steven McLister caught by wicketkeeper Alex Baum for 1 and then Ian Bennett bowled for 2. Time check 12.54pm and Kelburne 20 runs for 5 wickets.

Greenock continued to dominate. In the fourteenth over, change bowler Jonathan Hempsey had Kelburne’s top player Qasim Sheikh caught by Fraser Colson for 12 and then Waleed Jamal had Scott Hamilton caught by Baum for 2. Time check 1.19pm Kelburne 32 runs for 7 wickets.

A third catch by wicketkeeper Alex Baum off the bowling of Waleed Jamal sent former Greenock player Dougie Wylie back to the clubhouse. A partnership of 22 runs ensued between youngster Jak O’Connell and Ross McLean as Greenock seemed to ease off and some changes were made to their bowling attack. But a ninth wicket did come along when Jamal clean bowled McLean for 6. Time check 2.02pm Kelburne 63 runs for 9 wickets.

Youngster McLean was joined by the experienced Javaid Ashraf and, unknown to all at the time, the turning point of the game had arrived. These two put on fifty runs for the last wicket before Fraser Colson eventually removed O'Connell, bowled for what became the match-winning innings of 48. Time check 2.52pm Kelburne all out 113 runs.

Tom Batters returned excellent bowling figures of 5 wickets for 23 runs from ten overs. Waleed Jamal also had fine bowling figures of 3 for 27 from thirteen overs.

Following the tea interval ending at 3.30pm, Greenock’s innings began quietly with fifteen runs on the board after the opening eight overs, but then the face of the match began to change dramatically. Glenpark skipper Shailesh Prabhu (2) was caught by Burgess off the bowling of Steven McLister with the third ball of the ninth over and just three balls later the same bowler knocked back the stumps of Neil Flack (2). Not the start Greenock needed and worse was soon to come. 17 runs for 2 wickets. Time check 4.01pm.

In quick succession, Alex Baum (0), Fraser Colson (4)and Jonathan Hempsey (0) were each dismissed with the addition of just six more runs to the total. 23 runs for 5 wickets from 12 overs. Time check 4.16pm.

With the top five batsmen in the Greenock line-up all back in the hutch, the reliance was now on the lower order to show their batting abilities and steer the side home. It was not to be however as wickets continued to tumble at an alarmingly fast rate. Young Harry Briggs (1), a late replacement for internationalist Richie Berrington who declared himself unfit just hours before the match, was next to go. He was caught off the bowling of Scott Hamilton in the sixteenth over and swiftly followed by Mark Robertson (1) bowled by Ashraf in the seventeenth over.

In the eighteenth over, Waleed Jamal (18), became Scott Hamilton’s fourth victim of the afternoon. Jamal had been the only Greenock batsman able to score but in this over he was clean bowled by Hamilton. 44 runs for 8 wickets. Time check 4.46pm

The end was in sight now unless Greenock could do a Kelburne and magic up a miraculous recovery. Tom Batters and Greg McDougall added fourteen runs before McDougall (9) was bowled by Ross McLean and the match concluded when Sam Sanghera (0) became Mclean’s second victim caught by wicket-keeper Jak O’Connell. Tom Batters was left unbeaten on 10. Greenock were 64 all out. Time check 5.25pm.

Scott Hamilton took 4 for 19, Steven McLister 3 for 20 and Ross McLean 2 for 11.

There was no miracle recovery and Greenock lost a game which at 2pm had seemed destined to be theirs for the taking and which should have been all over in their favour, perhaps by around 3.30pm. It was not and a big lesson needs to be learned that, in cricket, the game is not over until the last run is scored or the last wicket is taken.