Greenock's last chance for a home league success

The stop start cricket season which has been summer 2014 gets a step nearer its end on Saturday afternoon when Stirling County come to Glenpark for Greenock 1st XI’s final home match of the league campaign.

Poor weather has been an issue from day one back in mid-April, and to date no fewer than ten weekend matches have been either cancelled or abandoned because of rain. Add to these missed matches, the two weeks without competitive cricket at the end of July/beginning of August because of the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, plus several midweek fixtures which also were victims of rain, and a pretty disappointing picture is there for all to see.

In a fairly short 20 week season, these stats clearly show the impact of the generally wet weekend weather on cricket in the west of Scotland.

This coming Saturday, weather permitting, Greenock will look to close their home fixtures with a good performance against Stirling County. The players may find themselves a bit rusty having had just one competitive match in the last four weeks, but will be keen to put on a show in front of their faithful supporters at Glenpark.

Scoring runs has been Greenock’s achilles heel for much of the season, therefore, finding some batting form will be important for the side if a win is to be achieved against County.

When the sides met through at New Williamfield in June, Greenock put up one of their best batting performances of the season scoring 199 runs for the loss of just two wickets. Under 17 Scottish captain Neil Flack, who has been the Glenparkers most notable player this season, notched up a brilliant 117 not out and was supported by Aidan Forrest, who scored 60 in a partnership which put on 186 runs.

Although Stirling managed to win the match by scoring 200 for the loss of four wickets, Greenock demonstrated that their young side had the capability of making a competitive total. A similar strong batting performance will be looked for this coming Saturday at Glenpark but, once again, Flack’s importance to the side will be significant.

If he can build a sizeable innings, and be supported by one or more of his teammates in developing some top order partnerships, then Greenock will give themselves a very decent chance of gaining a win over County.

The New Williamfield side is sitting comfortably in a mid table position having completed nine matches, winning five and losing four. In many of these games they have been very heavily dependent on their two South African overseas players Bradley Williams and Anton Ehlers in forging results.

Williams is currently third overall in the WDCU batting standings having scored over 350 runs at an average of almost 60 while Ehlers, who is a very pacey opening bowler, lies fourth overall in the bowling stats with 16 wickets and with an economy of 3.75.

It was largely the input of the two Stirling overseas players which defeated the Glenpark side in June. Chasing 200 runs to win the match, Williams put his side into a commanding position with a fine 67 and his compatriot Ehlers, batting at number five, finished the job off with a very competent 45 not out.

Greenock must however also watch out for Stirling captain and opening bat Gavin Anderson and Ehlers' opening bowling partner, Paul Bielby. Both of these players have had numerous good performances throughout the season and could present challenges in both the batting and bowling areas of the match on Saturday.

Greenock have a couple of players unavailable for the Stirling match from last Saturday’s team which took the field against Kelburne....a match which was abandoned after just seven overs due to the weather. Out of the selected team are Aidan Forrest and Guy Crichton and in to the side come Kevin Flack and Rod Mountford. Also unavailable is Ben Peterson who has featured in the 1st XI for most of the season. The match starts at 12 noon.

The Glenpark XI play their last away game of the season when they travel to Stirling to take on the Williamfield XI in a Reserve League fixture which starts at 1pm. As ever, the selection difficulties of the 1st XI will have a knock-on effect on the side that takes the field, but nonetheless those playing will be keen to bring back the points.

The Hillend XI have no game this weekend and with just one league game to go, they are well placed to win their division of the Sunday League.

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