Greenock start league campaign at Weirs

This weekend once again presents Greenock with a busy programme of cricket with matches on both Saturday and Sunday, the latter being the Scottish Cup match at Glenpark against top Edinburgh side Carlton which was postponed from a week ago.

Greenock travel to the south side of Glasgow on Saturday seeking a win in the opening league fixture of the season when they take on Weirs at Albert Park. It is a match which Greenock should be favourites to win but, with the weather playing havoc with just about every match around the country, nothing is certain. While Weirs are a bit of an unknown quantity and have not fared well in any competitive matches played this season, Greenock will do well to give them respect and ensure that their own game is in good order.

Few, if any, grounds in Scotland are in anything like the proper condition to play decent cricket at present as the recent lengthy spell of wet weather has prevented groundsmen from being able to prepare good wickets. Outfields too are presently very damp and scoring runs with good ground shots is often hard to achieve leaving the aerial route as the best, but usually most hazardous, choice to get runs on the board.

Saturday’s match at Albert Park is in some doubt following the news that Greenock’s match against Weirs at the Glasgow venue on Thursday evening in the first round of the Murgitroyd Rowan Cup had to be called off as the ground was not in a fit state for cricket to be played .

The poor weather and lack of matches has prevented Greenock from gaining the start to the season which had been hoped, but the Glenparkers remain very positive about the season ahead. The form shown by Dwight Thomas, their overseas player from the Caribbean, was a positive from the match which did get played a couple of weeks ago. The 22 year old St Lucian scored 61 against Stenhousemuir 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 an important one for Neil Flack, Greenock’s U17 international, who has shown some fine early season form. However, lack of matches and difficult playing conditions have hampered the youngster’s opportunities to kick on from the good innings that he had in the first couple of weeks of the season.

1st XI captain Shailesh Prabhu will most probably open the Greenock innings in both games with Flack and will be keen to get runs himself and help provide a good base for others to build on.

Out of the side on Saturday for the visit to Weirs will be brothers Jonathan and Chris Hempsey due to their cousin’s wedding. The loss of both of these players will be a significant blow to the team but others have the ability to step up and fill their positions. They will, however, both be available for Scottish Cup match against Carlton on Sunday. Chris Hempsey is a powerful batsman and runs from him in the middle order could set Greenock on the path to a sizeable total.

His brother Jonathan has made runs in each of the games played so far and will be keen to keep up his good batting record while Australian pace bowler Tom Batters 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 Weirs 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 against the Edinburgh side on Sunday.

Others in the Glenpark side for the weekend games will include Greg McDougall who will be one of Greenock’s change bowlers. He has a knack of picking up wickets when he is bowling well and can also score some quick runs in the lower batting order. New to the Greenock side this season is Mark Crichton who looks to be a useful acquisition as a medium pace bowler and also a capable lower middle order bat. Ben Peterson, who has had a very fine season for Greenock Hockey Club, will provide important contributions with his athleticism in the field and also with his batting ability in the latter part of an innings.

Two of Greenock’s young and up and coming players, teenagers Harry Briggs and Louis Ware, will feature in the sides over the weekend. Both are players with the potential to be top players for the Club in the period ahead. Ware is developing as a tall, very pacey bowler while Briggs is a youngster with real batting ability.

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.

Saturday's selection shows three changes from that chosen for last weekend with Harry Briggs, Dave Sharma and Ben Peterson coming into the line-up. This match starts at the earlier time of 12 noon.

Sunday's team is much changed with Jonathan and Chris Hempsey returning and they are joined by Alan McMichael and Sam Sanghera with Peterson, Santosh, Sharma and Ware dropping out. This match also starts at 12 noon.

The Glenpark XI are at home to Albert Park, Weirs 2nd XI, in the first game of their league season in the WDCU CSL First Division Reserve League. With the 1st XI not at full strength, it is inevitable that this will affect the Glenpark XI but hopefully it will still be good enough to give the team a winning start. This game starts at 1pm.

The Hillend XI have no game this weekend.

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