Greenock face another testing weekend

Greenock will attempt to get back to winning ways on Saturday against Prestwick at Glenpark after a couple of very disappointing performances last weekend against Ferguslie in the League and SMRH in the Scottish Cup.

In both of last week’s games, the Glenparkers failed to make any early breakthroughs and ended up chasing large totals, neither of which ended successfully. The team will be keen to make amends for these results and an improved performance against Prestwick will be an important first step.

The frequently referred to phrase in cricket, ‘catches win matches’ may have been applied to Greenock’s performances last weekend . The local side did have their chances, and had the opportunities which were presented on each day been taken, the results of the games may have turned out differently.

Both Ferguslie and SMRH achieved big runs from their opening, top order batsmen. In the case of SMRH, once the top three batsmen were gone there was little else, but by then the damage had been done. Against Ferguslie, only two wickets were down at the end of the Paisley side’s innings, so there was no opportunity to test the quality of the middle and lower order.

A much improved performance in the field will be demanded by captain Shailesh Prabhu when Greenock take to the field on Saturday.

However, Greenock’s issues are not all focused on their fielding performance. Batting too needs improvement. Building solid top order partnerships to provide a base from which to accumulate high scores, is an area which the Glenpark side must work hard to achieve. Concentration, self discipline and recognition of the long view during matches needs to be instilled in the players. Too often Greenock fail to bat out the overs available to them.

Confidence while out in the middle is without doubt a key factor in a batsman’s ability to build an innings and the longer an innings lasts the more confident and free scoring most batsmen become. Greenock need their players to develop a willingness and ability to stick around when their turn comes to bat. Personal targets too help focus a batsman on building an innings.

Opponents on Saturday, Prestwick, have had a poor start to their league season having played and lost all three matches to date and currently lie beneath the Glenparkers in the league table. Players to watch in their batting line up are young Australian opening bat Blake Emblem, who has averaged just over 40 runs in the league games, and Tom Fleet who has averaged almost 50. Removing these two early on must be a target for Greenock.

Bowling wise, Prestwick can call upon a variety of options from pace to spin with spin bowler Fraser McDonald being their top performer in the league season so far. In the last two games McDonald has picked up 11 wickets. Against Ferguslie two weeks ago he returned figures of 5 wickets for 49 runs from 11 overs and last week against Poloc he did even better with 6 for 42 from 9 overs. The experience of left-arm spinner Andy Tennant, the Cricket Scotland Performance Manager and ex-Scotland player, who was appointed Prestwick Club Coach at the start of this season, could also be an important factor for the Ayrshire outfit.

As mentioned earlier, Greenock need to bat through their innings and will look to openers Shailesh Prabhu and Neil Flack to get runs on the board at the top of the order. Dwight Thomas, Greenock’s overseas amateur from St Lucia has shown he is a class batsman and coming in at number three, a big innings from him would give the side a confidence boost.

In the middle order, Chris Hempsey gave a glimpse of what he is capable of with 20 runs last Sunday against SMRH before being out ‘hit wicket’ when seemingly in no trouble against the Edinburgh side’s attack. Young Harry Briggs is growing in experience with every game and has regularly got a start in his innings and now needs to learn to build into bigger runs.

Others in the side have capabilities for scoring runs and their contributions must be seen to be important if Greenock are to regularly build big innings scores.

Greenock’s bowling attack has undoubtedly been less potent this season without the pace of Waleed Jamal who is no longer at the Club. The Glenparkers must work out how best to use the resources available to the team and take the chances which come their way. Australian fast bowler Tom Batters has not had the sort of wickets to bowl on as he would prefer, due to the constant wet weather slowing down the pace of the pitches but as the summer progresses conditions should begin to favour him more and more.

A good line and length in the conditions which have been available has been the key and brought success. Batsmen can take advantage of loose deliveries but can be pinned down by accurate bowling where the ball is not coming on to the bat. Greenock’s bowlers, just like their batsmen, must be disciplined in their work.

Saturday's selection will be made from a squad of fourteen which includes Mark Crichton, Aidan Forrest and Sam Sanghera in addition to those who played last Saturday. The match will start at 12 noon.

The Glenpark XI are off down the coast to Ayrshire on Saturday to take on St Ninians (Prestwick's 2nd XI) in a WDCU CSL Reserve Division One match. Having suffered two heavy defeats in the past two weeks, the team will be hoping for better fortunes. It does help if eleven players can be fielded and this weekend a squad of sixteen has been named, which in fairness does include a number of players who have been listed in the first team squad but who will of course be available should they not be pciked for the 1st XI. Therefore all the signs are that a full-strength side will be fielded for a match which will start at the later time of 1pm.

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