Greenock look to start their season at the second attempt

Greenock will look to get their competitive season off to a winning start when they play Stenhousemuir at Glenpark on Saturday in the CricHQ40 cup competition, having had their match against Drumpellier called off due to ground conditions last week.

Last Saturday’s ‘game off’ was a big disappointment for Greenock and their supporters, but heavy overnight rain plus some showers around lunchtime made starting play impossible.

A number of the Greenock players who will feature in the 1st XI match this weekend took the opportunity of getting in some valuable match practice by playing in a Sunday League fixture at Clydesdale which the Glenparkers won by 47 runs. Under 17 Scottish internationalist Neil Flack continued his fine early season form by opening the batting and scoring 55 and then returned excellent bowling figures of 6 wickets for 27 runs from an eight over spell of off spin. Overseas amateur Dwight Thomas scored 21 runs in a short spell at the crease and showed that he has the potential to score plenty of runs during this summer. Chris Hempsey and teenagers Harry Briggs and Louis Ware also scored good runs as Greenock put together a useful and ultimately winning total of 178 for 5 from their 40 over innings.

Leading the Greenock side on Saturday will be Club captain Shailesh Prabhu who will be likely to open the innings with Neil Flack. Prabhu is an experienced opening batsman who will score well if he can see off the first few overs and become comfortable at the crease. Overseas amateur Dwight Thomas from St Lucia is a high scoring top order bat who should do well for Greenock especially once he gets used to the quite different conditions here in Scotland from what he is used to in the West Indies. Thomas is a batsman who will look to score quickly and not let opposition bowlers get into a rhythm.

The potential for runs is in the side and players such as Chris and Jonathan Hempsey, Harry Briggs, Greg McDougall and Ben Peterson, who plays his first match of the season, must all step up to the mark if called upon.

Greenock’s bowling will show a significant change to last season as the Glenpark side will be without paceman Waleed Jamal spearheading the attack, as he has left the club. Australian amateur Tom Batters will be the lone pace bowler with Jonathan Hempsey, Greg McDougall and new man Guy Crichton providing a medium pace input and Neil Flack and Dwight Thomas offering what may prove to be a significant spin partnership.

This week’s opponents, Stenhousemuir, did get their opening CricHQ40 cup match played last Saturday but were well beaten by Uddingston at Bothwell Policies. Invited to bat first on a damp wicket, Stenny struggled from the start and were bowled out for just 52. Off spinner Sameer Zia and leg spinner David Bill did almost all of the damage with Zia returning bowling figures of 5 wickets for 6 runs from a six over spell and Bill 3 wickets for 5 runs from 6.3 overs. In reply, Uddingston wasted no time in rattling up the 53 runs needed to win in just seven overs and for the loss of just one wicket.

Last season, the Larbert side got the better of Greenock on the occasions the teams met. In May, 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, 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 at the Tryst, Greenock went down tamely in the last league match of the season.

The Glenpark side will therefore be looking to gain a win on Saturday to start making amends for the reversals suffered last summer and will be hopeful that this selection can achieve this. The match starts at 1pm.

The Glenpark XI travel to Larbert to take on The Tryst, Stenhousemuir's 2nd XI, in a Western Cup match. After last week's problems, when a side of only 7 men could be fielded against Langloan, it is hoped for better fortunes this time.

On Sunday, the Hillend XI are at home to Irvine in a WDCU Sunday League fixture which gives an opportunity for a development XI to take the field. The match will start will start at 1pm. This side will include a mix of experienced and young players and will give those representing the Club some further useful match practice early in the season and the chance to build on last week's success at Titwood.

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