Greenock face a tricky weekend

Greenock are at home this Saturday to Stenhousemuir. The Stirlingshire club have become something of a ‘bogey’ team to the Glenparkers in the last season or two but following last weekend’s convincing win against Weirs, the local side will be confident of overcoming the team from the Tryst and gaining a second successive league win.

The win against Weirs was recorded despite several of the usual first team being unavailable and the manner of the victory put Greenock top of the league table, albeit after just the first round of league fixtures. It is a position which Greenock will be keen to maintain and a good win against Stenhousemuir at Glenpark on Saturday afternoon would certainly achieve that aim.

Season 2014 offers the opportunity for the top two sides in the WDCU Division One to be promoted into the Premier Division and Greenock will wish to be one of those teams come the end of August. The perfect start was made last weekend, now it is important to continue the winning habit.

Saturday’s team is once again approaching what might be considered to be the strongest which Greenock can currently field with Chris and Jonathan Hempsey both available once again, although Under-19 international Alex Baum is still unavailable due to university commitments.

A fine innings of 67 from Under-17 international Neil Flack was a major factor in setting up the two hundred plus total which Greenock scored against Weirs and was another fine performance from the young player. He was ably supported by several others in the Glenpark club’s batting line up with overseas amateurs Dwight Thomas and Tom Batters contributing almost 60 runs between them, plus 21 from teenager Harry Briggs and 19 runs each from Shailesh Prabhu and Greg McDougall.

A similar performance from the side, with numerous batsmen able to contribute useful runs and build significant partnerships, will ensure that Greenock are very much in the game on Saturday. Add a disciplined bowling performance and a second league win could well be delivered.

Dwight Thomas was the pick of the Greenock bowlers against Weirs with 4 wickets for just 17 runs including a hat-trick which ripped out the top order of the Glasgow south side team. Thomas will once again be a key bowler and can expect good support from Aussie Tom Batters whose pace has the potential to pick up a clutch of wickets, and also from the medium pace of Jonathan Hempsey, Dave Sharma and Greg McDougall.

Last season, the Stirlingshire side got the better of Greenock on the occasions the teams met. In May 2013, in the Murgitroyd Rowan Cup, Greenock had been well on top when the midweek cup tie was first played but a heavy downpour caused the game to be abandoned and then in the replayed game a week later the team from the Tryst ran out comfortable winners. In June 2013, Greenock suffered a bizarre reversal in the league match at Glenpark. Stenhousemuir scored 158 for 4 and Greenock got 165 for 9 in reply ....but lost the DL target had been set at 175 from 25 overs. Then in late August 2013 at the Tryst, Greenock went down tamely in the last league match of the season.

The two teams have met once already this season a few weeks back in the CricHQ40 Cup at Glenpark and once again, Stenhousemuir gained victory in a match, which for a large part of the afternoon, Greenock seemed likely to win.

So this weekend, Greenock have a real incentive to make good where in recent previous encounters the results have gone against them. A belief in their own individual abilities and a good team plan should see the Glenpark team register another league win.

On Sunday, Greenock and top Edinburgh side Carlton will once again try to get their first round Scottish Cup match played at Glenpark. This will be the third attempt to get the tie played due to the wet weather which has plagued the west of Scotland over recent weekends and it will be the last opportunity to do so. Failure to get any play will mean a ‘bowl out’ between the two sides when five players from each team will be nominated to bowl two balls each at a set of stumps on a normal wicket. The team with most ‘strikes’ out of ten will be the winner. It is cricket’s equivalent of a penalty shoot out.

Carlton were last season’s runners-up in the competition losing out in the final to arch rivals from the capital city, Grange. The Grange Loan team is a strong one with current Scotland player, and sometimes captain, Preston Mommsen and former Scotland captain Gordon Drummond in their line-up. However, Greenock is a side with a developing confidence and if on the day individual players can play to their potential then what may be considered to be a cup upset, if Greenock win, could be on the cards. The winners of this tie will be at home to Stewarts Melville Royal High (SMRH) another Edinburgh side.

Saturday's selection, as stated above, is now looking a good deal closer to what would be termed as their storngest line-up. This match starts at 12 noon.

Sunday's team has yet to be finalised but captain Shailesh Prabhu is unavailable due to work commitments and vice captain Jonathan Hempsey will lead the side.

The Glenpark XI travel to Larbert to take on The Tryst XI in a Reserve League fixture. Having played just the one game so far this season, the team will be desperate just to see some action, although obviously they will be looking to record a win. This game starts at 1pm.

The Hillend XI's game against Ferguslie on Sunday has been postponed and will be rescheduled for later in the season.

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