Greenock face their bogey side Stenhousemuir in key match

With only one win to show from the first half of the league season, Greenock travel through to Stirlingshire to face Stenhousemuir at The Tryst on Saturday afternoon. The Glenparkers will be keen to gain a win to kick-start what needs to be a much better second half to their league programme.

The last two weekends have shown signs that the current group of players representing the Club at 1st XI do have the ability within the team to make a big total, something in excess of 230 runs, which will almost certainly be required to gain the win that is being looked for.

Against Stirling County two weeks ago, teenagers Neil Flack and Aidan Forrest compiled a superb 186 runs in a fine second wicket partnership, but the team’s total of 199 for the loss of just two wickets was not enough to gain the elusive victory, as County overtook the Greenock total with just five wickets down.

Last Saturday, it was a fine tail-end partnership between Greg McDougall and Guy Crichton, which produced 85 runs, which got Greenock to the respectable total of 157 all out, but once again not enough to sufficiently challenge the opposition.

At The Tryst on Saturday, Greenock’s middle order batsmen must knuckle down and ensure that they occupy the crease for lengthy periods and build significant partnerships, hopefully after a sound start from the top order.

Work commitments this weekend keep 1st XI captain Shailesh Prabhu out of the side and therefore it is likely that Greenock will open with Under-17 Scotland internationalist Neil Flack and West Indian overseas amateur Dwight Thomas. A high scoring start to the innings would set the side up nicely for a big score, but it is something which the Glenparkers have failed to achieve in any of the five league matches completed so far in 2014. It is important that this situation changes at The Tryst on Saturday.

Perhaps key to the team’s run-scoring performance against Stenhousemuir will be the players who occupy positions 3, 4 and 5 in the batting order. There has been no really settled pattern to these positions, which is perhaps one of the reasons why Greenock have enjoyed little success in gaining sufficient runs from the middle order.

Whoever the players are for the Glenparkers in this important area of the innings, real application by them and patience to grind out runs is what is needed. Greenock must bat out the full fifty overs of the innings if batting first, and if chasing a total batting second, then pacing the innings and keeping wickets in hand must be the tactic.

Back into this week’s side comes Aussie pace bowler Tom Batters, and Chris Hempsey may return after injury. Out from last week’s side along with skipper Shaileah Prabhu is tail-end batting hero Guy Crichton who is on holiday and Sam Sanghera who drops down into the 2nd XI.

The current Greenock side is very much one in transition with no fewer than four of last season’s squad not available in the 2014 season. Richie Berrington, Alex Baum, Waleed Jamal and Fraser Colson are all top players who featured for Greenock in 2013 and filling their places has been a difficult task for what is a generally young side at present. However the ‘green shoots’ are there and players such as Neil Flack, Harry Briggs, Aidan Forrest and Louis Ware, who have all come through the excellent junior system at Glenpark, are all beginning to make their mark at senior level. Others too who have first eleven potential are in the system and the work of junior coaches is very definitely bearing fruit.

Greenock have faced Stenhousemuir twice already this season, once in the CricHQ40 cup competition and once on league business. Both matches were played at Glenpark, but the Stirlingshire side came out on top on each occasion. Greenock will seek to rectify these reversals on Saturday.

In early May, in the CricHQ40 Cup, Greenock were bowled out two balls from the end of their 40 overs for 179 runs with Dwight Thomas hitting his top score of the season so far, 61 runs, and Aussie amateur Tom Batters adding 36. Stenhousemuir achieved the target with almost two overs to spare thanks to a good team batting performance which included 53 from Amir Shahzad and 42 from South African Soysile Pono.

Greenock’s batting was significantly less good in the league encounter towards the end of May. Only 91 runs were scored, and only 38 out of the available 50 overs were used before all ten wickets fell. Once again it was Shahzad (33) and Pono (42 not out) who were Stenny’s top scorers.

Iain McDonald was Stenhousemuir’s top bowler in both matches. His overall stats show that he captured a total of 8 wickets for 34 runs from just 12.4 overs bowled in the two games. Definitely a bowler Greenock batsmen must play with care.

Stenhousemuir have a record of three wins from five league matches completed. The team from the Tryst has had wins over Poloc and Weirs, apart from their win against Greenock, but relies heavily on a very few players for scoring runs and taking wickets. Four players in particular stand out....Shahzad, Pono, McDonald and South African pro Rushdie Jappie. Contain these players and Greenock could well get a result at The Tryst on Saturday.

The match will start at 12 noon with a final selection being made from a squad of twelve with Tom Batters, Kevin Flack, Chris Hempsey and Rod Mountford all available for selection.

The Glenpark XI are at home to The Tryst XI (Stenhousemuir’s 2nd XI) on Saturday in a WDCU CSL First Division Reserve League match. Last Saturday, the team failed to build a competitive total against Shawholm and were ultimately beaten quite convincingly. With home advantage this Saturday, the team should be too strong for The Tryst. This match will start at 1pm.

The Hillend XI continued their good start to the season with a win over East Kilbride and they will be keen to maintain this momentum on Sunday when they welcome Hillhead to Glenpark for a Sunday League match which will also start at 1pm.

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