Greenock end league season at Shawholm

Greenock journey up the M8 to Glasgow on Saturday to play their final league match of the 2014 season against Poloc. It is also the Glenparkers last chance to gain a second league win and end 2014 in a positive manner after what can only be described as a very disappointing season.

Hosts Poloc, have had an inconsistent season too and currently occupy a league position just a couple of places above Greenock. In ten matches completed, the Shawholm side have managed four wins and suffered six defeats. Last Saturday was one of the latter and it was a very heavy defeat to Ferguslie at Meikleriggs in Paisley. Chasing 243, Poloc were bowled out for just 81 runs.

When Greenock met Poloc at Glenpark at the end of June, it was the Glasgow side which emerged victorious. Greenock scored 157 all out batting first and in reply Poloc required just 40 overs to score the runs needed to win, making 161 for 5. Key to that win was Poloc’s overseas player from South Africa Malcolm Nofal who scored a match winning 85.

The young South African has had a good season for Poloc scoring over 350 league runs and he currently sits in second place in the WDCU Batting league table with an average of just a little under 50. Removing Nofal early will be a major aim for Greenock on Saturday.

Craig Young and Brian Spence are two other Poloc batsmen who Greenock will wish to ensure do not stay at the crease for long. Each is capable of a good score and if either, or both, get an innings going, they could prove very dangerous.

For Greenock, this is the last opportunity to gain that elusive second league win. Captain Shailesh Prabhu will be rallying his side to put in a top effort to return to Glenpark with the points.

Bowling and fielding have just about had pass marks during the summer, with Greenock, on a number of occasions, having had opponents in some trouble part way through an innings, but never quite managing to drive home whatever advantage has been built up.

Batting performances of the team have been disappointing, with just a few exceptions. The 186 run partnership between Neil Flack and Aidan Forrest against Stirling County was the most memorable of the good performances.

On Saturday, Neil Flack will be a key player for Greenock when he opens the batting with his captain Shailesh Prabhu. There have been few good opening stands from Greenock throughout the league campaign and if runs can be put on the board on Saturday without an early loss, then the chances of a high scoring Greenock innings will be much improved.

St Lucian overseas amateur Dwight Thomas will wish to sign off his time in Scotland with a good score. He has found run-scoring difficult and suffered several close LBW decisions which have curtailed his innings. A substantial score from Thomas on Saturday would undoubtedly send him home to St Lucia next week a much happier player and also encourage some others in the side to score some runs too.

While runs scored is, of course, hugely important, bowling and fielding frequently have a major impact on the outcome of a game. Both Greenock and Poloc have a number of useful bowlers in their sides and it could be that a strong performance from one side’s bowlers influences the outcome of the match.

Tom Batters, Greenock’s overseas player from Melbourne in Australia, has come in to some very fine form since the middle of the season when the weather has improved and wickets have become harder and faster. In the last four matches, he has picked up twelve wickets at an average of under 12 runs per wicket. Another good performance against Poloc on Saturday would finish off Batters’ second season with Greenock perfectly.

Others in the Glenpark side who could give Poloc some problems include Jonathan Hempsey who has opened the bowling with Batters regularly this season, Neil Flack who is developing into a useful off spin bowler and Greg McDougall who picks up useful wickets as first or second change bowler. Young Louis Ware will be in Saturday’s team and if given an opportunity to bowl his speed could well give Poloc batsmen some difficulty. Finally, Dwight Thomas’ off spin has been shown to be a valuable asset in the Greenock attack on numerous occasions this year.

Poloc have no one bowler who seems to get amongst the wickets in a major way on a regular basis, but the Glasgow side does have a number of players who Greenock would do well to play with care.

That said, Matthew Coyle has come into good form in the last couple of matches and took four wickets last Saturday against the champions, Ferguslie. Young Ihtisham Malik is developing very well and he has had some good performances this season. Haseeb Zaker, Hamid Mahmood and overseas player Pierce Fletcher are others who may well bowl on Saturday.

This is the final 1st XI match of the season. A good performance and a win in Glasgow would be a very pleasing finale to what has otherwise been a very disappointing season for Greenock.

Just as last Saturday, Greenock have several regular 1st XI players this season who are unavailable this weekend and the selected team is close to that which took the field against Stirling County. The mathc starts as usual at 12 noon.

The Glenpark XI also play their last game of the season on Saturday, welcoming the Shawholm XI to Glenpark and looking to round things off with a win. Unlike last week, they should not come up against an outstanding young bat of the calibre of Wiiliamfield's Jack Bradburn, which may make the possibility of a win that bit more possible. The match starts at 1pm.

On Sunday, the Hillend XI travel to Glasgow for the final league match of the season against Hillhead. Weather has disrupted the Sunday League matches significantly this season but the side is unbeaten, having won their five matches in the league programme which have beaten the rain. With just this match remaining to be played, the team look favourites to win the title. The match at Hillhead’s ground, Hughenden, starts at 1pm.

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