Busy and difficult weekend for Greenock

Greenock have a busy weekend of cup cricket with matches on both Saturday and Sunday. Uddingston, away at Bothwell Policies, is the Glenpark side’s match on Saturday in the CricHQ Cup, and on Sunday, top Edinburgh side Carlton come to Glenpark in the opening round of the Scottish Cup.

Both of these sides play in their respective west and east Premier Divisions within the top tier of Scottish cricket, while Greenock currently occupy a position in the tier below, and so wisdom might suggest that the Glenparkers will do well to match the talent which the weekend’s opposition have in their ranks.

Uddingston were last year’s Premier League (West) champions and were also Scottish Cup winners in 2011 and 2010. They will be a very tough challenge for what is a young and developing Greenock side. The Glenparkers, of course, were the top side in the country in the first decade of this new millennium winning the Scottish Premier League twice in 2002 and 2007 and the Scottish Cup five times between 2001 and 2007, but most of the players who were part of those glory years have retired or moved on to pastures new and Greenock are in a rebuilding phase.

In this year’s CricHQ Cup, Uddingston have a 100% record from the two sectional matches they have played, having recorded good wins over both Stenhousemuir and Drumpellier. Saturday’s match is the last of the sectional games and the team from Lanarkshire is already assured of progressing to the next stage of the competition.

Greenock, on the other hand, have only a slim chance of progressing. Last week’s defeat to Stenhousemuir, coupled with the cancellation of the opening match against Drumpellier, means Greenock need to win well against Uddingston, plus Drumpellier need to beat Stenhousemuir, for the Glenparkers to have any chance of qualifying for the next stage of the competition.

While the result against Stenhousemuir last Saturday was disappointing, the form shown by Dwight Thomas was a positive from the match. The 22 year old St Lucian scored 61 before being given out LBW and until then he had been well in command of the bowling and the slow wicket conditions. He will be a key player for Greenock this weekend against two useful bowling line-ups.

The weekend matches will also be a good test for Neil Flack, Greenock’s U17 international, who has shown some fine early season form, but for whom these two matches will be a significant step up in standard. Others from whom runs will be important include Shailesh Prabhu and the Hempsey brothers, Christopher and Jonathan.

1st XI captain Prabhu has the experience and ability to post a big score and he will do so before long. This weekend would be a good time. Chris Hempsey is a powerful batsman and can score quickly, but his team will wish to see him occupy the crease and accumulate runs while building a sizeable partnership with whomsoever he joins out in the middle. Partnerships will be crucial for Greenock if good scores are to be achieved in these two matches over the weekend.

Other players who have the ability to provide runs are Jonathan Hempsey, who batted well last weekend before mis-timing a shot to the legside when set for a significant score, and Australian pace bowler Tom Batters, who demonstrated once again for Greenock that he is also a capable batsman occupying a lower middle order position.

Batters too will be a key man in Greenock’s bowling attack. His pace has already provided problems for opposing batsmen in the matches played this season and against both Uddingston and Carlton he should present an early challenge to their top order batsmen. Jonathan Hempsey will possibly partner Batters in the opening overs. His bowling stats to date this season have been very encouraging and, as one of the current Greenock XI’s more experienced players at 1st XI level, he might well hold the key to some early breakthroughs.

Sunday’s Scottish Cup visitors, Carlton from Edinburgh, were last season’s runners-up in the competition losing out in the final to arch rivals from the capital city, Grange. In competitive cricket this season, the Grange Loan side have one defeat and one win from their two Eastern Premiership matches but have scored over two hundred runs in each match indicating their batting line up is a decent one. Certainly, with current Scotland player, and sometimes captain, Preston Mommsen and former Scotland captain Gordon Drummond in their line-up, there is an air of quality.... but all batsmen are fallible.

In neither of their two competitive matches have Carlton’s bowlers ripped through the oppositions batting. Aberdeenshire scored 264 for the loss of just 3 wickets, while SMRH scored 199 last Saturday to come within just ten runs of Carlton’s total.

Greenock’s players must therefore bat clever this weekend, build useful and lengthy partnerships and ensure that the full quota of overs are played through. If they can achieve such solid, strong performances with the bat, bowl accurately and tidily and show a keenness in the field, then results which might be considered upsets, in the current scheme of club cricket in Scotland, might just be possible.

Saturday's selection shows three changes from last weekend with Mark Crichton, Sam Santosh and Louis Ware coming in for Briggs. Peterson and Sanghera. This match starts at 1pm.

For Sunday's team, Briggs and Sanghera come back in for Guy Crichton and Santosh. This match has the earlier start time of 12 noon.

The Glenpark XI are at home to Bothwell, Uddingston's 2nd XI, in the final Western Cup sectional game and after the disappointment of their opponents calling off last weekend, will just be happy to get on to the field. This game starts at 1pm.

The Hillend XI have no game this weekend.

Greenock Cricket Club is sponsored this season by Cleaning Supplies 4U.