Greenock face strong Ferguslie side on Saturday

Renfrewshire rivals Ferguslie are visitors to Glenpark on Saturday afternoon for a match which pitches almost top against almost bottom......sadly, Greenock are not almost top. The team from Paisley is having a fine season and in the league has won six out of seven matches completed.

In the league meeting between the two sides earlier in the season at Meikleriggs, Greenock were on the receiving end of what can only be described as a ‘drubbing’. Ferguslie scored 386 for the loss of just two wickets while Greenock were all out for a meagre 109. It was a dark day for the Glenparkers.

This Saturday there will be a determination among the Greenock players to gain revenge for that result. To do so there will need to be a number of changes to what happened at the end of May. Top of the list will be to get the wicket of Ferguslie’s professional, Zimbabwean Keith Dabengwa. He almost single-handedly destroyed Greenock at Meikleriggs scoring 184 before being out in the very last over of the Paisley side’s innings.

However it was not just Dabengwa who put Greenock ‘to the sword’ on that May afternoon. Two of Ferguslie’s young home grown talents, Michael English and Gregor Preston-Jones also feasted on Greenock’s bowling with English 101 not out and Preston-Jones 66.

Interestingly, it is only a very few short years ago that Ferguslie found themselves in a period of team re-building and ‘winning’ results were almost impossible to find. Now the Meikleriggs men are a team to watch.

Greenock should therefore take heart, as the potential for a strong 1st XI is building week by week, month by month with a number of young, very talented players gaining experience at 1st XI and 2nd XI levels. Players such as Neil Flack, already a fixture in Scotland’s U17 team, and Harry Briggs and Louis Ware, both regulars in the Western Warriors U15 side but who have also already gained experience in the Greenock top team. Others such as leg spinner Will Goan, who has been mesmerising opposition batsmen while playing 2nd XI cricket, and Ewan Stewart, Jamie Nowell and Jamie Love who have also all played 2nd XI cricket, are exciting prospects for the future.

Currently, however, it is the players occupying the 1st XI places who must be up for Saturday’s encounter. There are scores to be settled from May’s match at Meikleriggs which was a humiliation for the Greenock men.

Can Greenock turn the tide so soon after such a defeat ? “Of course !”, must be the answer. The Glenpark side has plenty of talent but, for most of this season, has kept that talent hidden. It will surely surface soon and Saturday would be a perfect place for players to unlock their potential and give home supporters plenty to cheer.

However, as luck would have it...and it is not ‘good luck’....various players, who would almost certainly have been considered for the Greenock team, are unavailable this weekend. Missing from the side will be top youngster Neil Flack ,who has been in fine form for most of the season with the bat. The Scotland U17 opening batsman is unavailable due to commitments for the national age group side which is playing in the ECB U17 Championship down south. His omission is a big blow for Greenock. Also out are Aidan Forrest (holiday), Chris Hempsey (Best Man at a friend’s wedding), and Kevin Flack (broken finger). So it will be a Greenock side which will look to a number of its key players to pull out their best performances come Saturday afternoon. Batting, in particular, is where the side must look to do well.

Overseas amateur Dwight Thomas from St Lucia, provided a glimmer of what he can do last Saturday as he stroked his way to almost thirty runs against Weirs, and there was a growing expectation of a big innings from him until he succumbed to a poor choice of shot and was bowled. A much bigger innings could easily be his at Glenpark on Saturday.

Opening bat and 1st XI captain, Shailesh Prabhu, too could score big, if he can get settled in to his innings. Several times this season Prabhu has made a decent start but seldom has he been able to build this into a substantial innings.

The middle order positions are usually crucial in a team’s ability to make a large total. On Saturday, Greenock will certainly look to the batsmen occupying positions three to six to get amongst the runs, and they must work on achieving short targets and building their innings’ gradually.

Guy Crichton comes back into the side and should provide a useful bowling option having performed well in the 2nd XI in recent weeks. Also back comes 14 year old Louis Ware who has the potential to be one of the best cricketers Greenock has produced in many years. At almost six feet tall Ware is developing into a very fine all rounder, a very pacey bowler who can already also bat well in senior cricket.

Keeping their places from last Saturday’s defeat to Weirs are Rod Mountford who scored a fine century for the 2nd XI just two weeks ago, Greg McDougall who will likely bat in the lower order and bowl in mid innings, Harry Briggs another of Greenock’s fine young prospects and Ben Peterson who offers both a bowling and a good lower order batting option.

Greenock’s bowling attack will be led by Aussie paceman Tom Batters and Jonathan Hempsey and their task is simple....remove the top order of Ferguslie’s batting line-up early !! If Dabengwa, Preston-Jones and English all go early, Greenock will very definitely be in with a very good chance of a win. If not.....

The match will start at 12 noon with a final selection being made from a squad of twelve.

The Club is grateful to acknowledge that Saturday’s 1st XI match versus Ferguslie is kindly sponsored by  Fyfe & Murray Solicitors.

The Glenpark XI travel to Paisley on Saturday to take on Meikleriggs (Ferguslie 2nd XI) in a Reserve League match. With the 1st XI weakened by call-offs, this will inevitably have an impact on the strength of the Glenpark XI side and they will do extremely well to get anything from a match against a side that is always strong and committed. This match will start at 1pm.

On Sunday, the Hillend XI host Clydesdale Cavaliers in a Sunday League match at Glenpark starting at 1pm. Greenock are unbeaten and sit at the top of the Sunday League with the Cavaliers in second spot. Should be a good match.

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