Greenock look to restart season with win over Kelburne

After last weekend’s downpour which put paid to any chance of a completed game, Greenock welcome Renfrewshire rivals, Kelburne, to Glenpark on Saturday for the latest WDCU CSL First Division match and will look to kick start what has been a very disjointed season. The team has been unable to get into any rhythm due to the stop-start nature of the season which has been severely disrupted by the weather and results have somewhat inevitably been disappointing.

Fortunately, the weather forecasters are confident that this Saturday will be dry and therefore there should be no difficulty with getting a conclusion to what is likely to be a very difficult game for the locals. Kelburne currently sit fourth in the league, two places above Greenock, having won twice against Weirs and Greenock’s bogey side, Stenhousemuir and lost just once in a rain-affected encounter with Poloc. The very fact that they dealt comfortably with Stenhousemuir underlines the severity of the task that faces Greenock.

The Paisley side have a good all-round look to them. On the batting side, they will look to runs from Omar Hussain, a member of this year’s Reivers district squad, Qasim Sheikh, who has scored heavily for Scotland in the past, Matthew McMIllan and Jak O’Connell. If Greenock are to be successful then they must look to getting rid of these four batsmen in particular as cheaply as possible.

Steven McLister and Ross MacLean provide the youthful look to the bowling attack and they are backed up by as many as four veterans of the West of Scotland cricketing scene in Jamie MacDonald, Scott Hamilton, Javaid Ashraf and Dougie Wylie, the latter of whom needs no introduction to Greenock players and supporters.

If Greenock need any reminding of the effectiveness of that attack, then they just need to think back to the West League Cup tie in May when they were dismissed for just 40 runs, albeit on a sporting pitch.

Greenock, unlike that time in May, will clearly need to bat with much more purpose and discipline if they are to record a win on Saturday. That they do not always do that was in evidence again last Saturday against Prestwick in the 27 overs of play that were possible.

Openers Shailesh Prabhu and Neil Flack got Greenock off to a good start, putting on 48 for the first wicket before Prabhu fell for 27. Dwight Thomas and Aidan Forrest both scored 10 and in partnership with Flack the score had advanced to 102 for 2 when the wheels fell off. Forrest’s dismissal was immediately followed by Flack getting out for 46 and then the brothers Hempsey were both dismissed with the score on 111. Four wickets falling for just 9 runs and had the rains not come, Greenock would have been pushed to set a reasonable target for Prestwick to chase.

This Saturday such a middle-order collapse will make it extremely difficult for Greenock to get anything positive out of the match. They must look to bat the full 50 overs and to create partnerships, rather than lose wickets in clusters as last week.

On the bowling front, it is to be hoped that the attack has recovered from the mauling that it received the previous weekend from Ferguslie and SMRH. If they do not bowl to a consistent line and length, then Kelburne do have the batsmen to take advantage of that, as has been indicated above.

With good weather conditions forecast and Glenpark sure to be in good condition with a fast-running outfield, spectators should be treated to an excellent game of cricket. If they are to see a winning performance from Greenock, then all eleven members of the team will need to perform for the whole match, not just for short spells of the game, as they have been guilty of doing in previous games.

Young Neil Flack has scored runs consistently all season but has too often lacked support from his more experienced team-mates. That has to change on Saturday.

The match will start at 12 noon and the Greenock team will be along the same lines as last week.

The Glenpark XI are at away to Whitehaugh XI (Kelburne’s 2nd XI) on Saturday in a WDCU CSL First Division Reserve League match. Last week would have seen the strongest eleven of the season on the field, had the weather allowed, and there is every hope that this will be repeated this week, which will give the team a decent chance of recording a victory. This match will start at 1pm.

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