Greenock travel to Kelburne seeking elusive league win

Greenock will continue their search for a second league win in this 2014 season when they travel to meet Kelburne at the Paisley side’s Whitehaugh ground on Saturday. Kelburne are currently sitting in second top position in the WDCU League Division One and looking odds on to be promoted to the Premier Division, so the Glenparkers will not be the bookies' favourites to win this one.

Last Saturday, Greenock played their first competitive match following a two week layoff due to the Commonwealth Games when the team travelled down the coast to Prestwick. Unfortunately, the frailties which have afflicted the team for much of the season were once again in evidence.

Winning the toss and bowling first, Greenock got themselves into a good position with some early wickets, but failed to press home the advantage which had been created, and then gradually faded out of the match. It was an all too familiar picture.

The relatively young and inexperienced Greenock XI need to be much more clinical in finishing off opponents when they get a clutch of early wickets rather than allow partnerships to develop in the lower order which then build a challenging total to be chased.

But, arguably, it is in the batting department where the Glenpark side is most at sea. Few good starts have been made to any innings in the matches played throughout this season, and too frequently a rash of wickets have fallen in the upper and middle order for little return, placing too great a pressure on the remaining batting line up. Two or three lengthy partnerships in the top order is what is needed and Greenock need to find the players in their side who can provide them.

It was exactly the problems just highlighted which were present when Greenock met Kelburne at Glenpark in June.

Kelburne batted first and lost some early wickets but a couple of good partnerships from Matt McMillan and Qasim Sheikh, and then Sheikh and Omar Hussain, rescued the Paisley side and a useful total of 216 for the loss of 7 wickets was compiled in 50 overs.

In reply, Greenock never really got going and lost the wickets of Neil Flack, Dwight Thomas and Shailesh Prabhu for just thirty runs and then, following an eight over 19 run fourth wicket partnership between Jonathan Hempsey and Aidan Forrest, a calamitous collapse occurred which ended with Greenock all out for just 66 runs after only around twenty overs bowled.

On Saturday, Greenock will be keen to make amends and provide a much better outcome from this match than was the case in June, and if McMillan, Sheikh and Hussain can be removed early in their innings, then Kelburne have the potential to be vulnerable.

In Tom Batters, Jonathan Hempsey, Guy Crichton, Greg McDougall and Neil Flack, Greenock have a group of bowlers who could give the Paisley side some early problems and with a fielding side which has often performed to a high standard in matches throughout the season, the Glenparkers must try to make it difficult for Kelburne to build a total.

However, it will almost certainly come down to Greenock’s own run scoring ability which will settle this match. What team the Glenpark club will select and what partnerships can be developed in their batting line-up will be key to the outcome.

Skipper Shailesh Prabhu returns to lead the team, the final selection of which will be made from a squad of thirteen. The match will start at 12 noon.

The Glenpark XI are at home to Whitehaugh, Kelburne's 2nd XI, on Saturday in a WDCU CSL Reserve Division One match which starts at 1pm. In the corresponding fixture played between the two clubs at Whitehaugh earlier in the season, the Glenpark team gained a fine win defeating the up-until-then unbeaten Whitehaugh XI by 91 runs, 155 to 64. A repeat performance would be a treat for Glenpark fans on Saturday afternoon.

The Hillend XI travel to Lanarkshire on Sunday to take on East Kilbride in a WDCU Sunday League fixture which will also start at 1pm.

On Sunday afternoon, Greenock play host to the WDCU 2014 CricHQ40 cup final between Stenhousemuir and Stirling County. The match will commence at 1pm and an excellent afternoon’s cricket is anticipated. Both clubs are bringing a sizeable support which should mean that a good atmosphere will be generated throughout the afternoon. Entry to the ground at Fox Street/Brisbane Street is free.

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