Greenock's batting lets them down again

Poloc vs Greenock 1st XI
WDCU CSL First Division
Saturday 30th August 2014

Greenock 1st XI 73 M Nofal 5 for 12, I Malik 3 for 26
Poloc 74 for 1 M Nofal 33*


Greenock’s dismal 2014 season came to an end on Saturday when they subsided in the most abject way to a 9-wicket defeat to Poloc at Shawholm. This defeat in many ways summed up just what has gone wrong with Greenock’s cricket this season when once again their batting collapsed to a miserable 73 all out.

Greenock’s skipper, Shailesh Prabhu, lost the toss and was, not unsurprisingly, given the wet weather of the previous 24 hours, asked to bat by his opposite number. Prabhu and his opening partner, Neil Flack, actually made a reasonable start against the bowling of overseas player, Pierce Fletcher and the promising Scottish Under-15 player, Ihtisham Malik. Midway through the 6th over, Greenock were sitting comfortably at 25 for 0. By the end of that over, the score had changed to 27 for 2 and the momentum of the game had totally changed.

Skipper Prabhu was the first to go, caught by Shah for 11 off the bowling of Malik. Two balls later and after a couple of wides, Dwight Thomas was once again dismissed LBW and without scoring. Without doubt, Thomas’ season has been disappointing and the runs that were expected from him have rarely materialised.

Poloc now introduced their overseas amateur, Malcolm Nofal, into the attack and he proceeded to rip through the Greenock batting. A number of small partnerships developed but never came to anything and on three occasions, two wickets fell at the same total.

Neil Flack was third to go, caught by Millen off Malik’s batting for 14, a score which was to prove the highest of the innings. Harry Briggs (3) and Jonathan Hempsey (8) both fell at 47, the former bowled by Fletcher and the latter LBW to Nofal. Chris Hempsey was bowled by Nofal for 3 and when Batters (6) and Ware (10) fell at 67, it was clear that there was to be no comeback by the lower order.

Nofal claimed the last two wickets, both LBW, of McDougall and MacNab, to finish with the flattering figures of 5 for 12 in just 5.2 overs. Malik was the other major wicket-taker with 3 for 26 and the Greenock innings was all over for 73 in just 23.2 overs.

Tea was not taken between innings and the Poloc reply started ten minutes later. Greenock claimed an early success when opener Anjum Aslam, after hitting two boundaries, hit the last ball of Tom Batters’ first over to Greg McDougall who claimed the catch.

That was as good as it got for Greenock. Nofal came to the crease and quickly exerted his domination over the bowlers. The match was all over after just 12.3 overs when Poloc reached their target of 74. Nofal was undefeated on 33 and Shah on 11 and Tom Batters was the lone successful Greenock bowler with 1 for 32.

A desperately disappointing day in what is without question one of the poorest seasons in Greenock’s long history. The statistics tell the full story.

Just one league win out of 11 completed games left the team firmly rooted at the foot of the table. On 6 occasions in these games, the batting failed to even reach three figures. Overall they scored 1418 runs for the loss of 105 wickets whilst their opponents totalled 2277 runs for the loss of 74 wickets. These figures demonstrate quite clearly the gap between Greenock and the opposition.

Only 4 players scored more than 100 runs in the league season – Neil Flack was the most successful with 292, and Dwight Thomas (147), Shailesh Prabhu (141) and Greg McDougall (108) were the others who reached this minor landmark. On the bowling front, only Tom Batters with 20 wickets and Neil Flack with 12 were in double figures for victims.

Next season, the Western Union leagues will be comprised of 10 teams, as opposed to the 8 of this season. Greenock will again be in the First Division and the goal has to be to avoid relegation from that division to the next level of Western Union cricket. Even the most optimistic of supporters will realise that this will not be straightforward, if the team play as they have done this year.

During the winter months, the club has to take stock of where it is and come up with a plan to turn around the position. Otherwise, it faces a long and slow drop down the divisions. There is young talent in the club. Neil Flack has done really well this season for the club and at the international level, and this was topped by being appointed as captain of the Scottish Under-17 team against Ireland. Harry Briggs and Louis Ware have been features in the 1st XI all season and while both have struggled to impose themselves, the experience ought to stand them in good stead for future seasons.

The team has rarely been able to field a settled side during the season and this has not helped. The impact of this was all too often felt by the Glenpark XI who had great difficulty at times in fielding a side. This was exemplified on Saturday when they faced the Shawholm XI. The latter scored a scarcely believable 402 for 7 in their 50 overs, with Armour scoring 173. In reply, the Glenpark XI were dismissed for 86. But the real point was that the team that was fielded was a mixture of the very old and the very young and was no match for a more experienced Poloc outfit who with this result won the Reserve League.

There will be no easy fix for Greenock. But a club that has known many years of success in its 151 years of existence knows that it has to work hard to bounce back and that work has to start now.

Thanks are expressed to the Club’s sponsor, Cleaning Supplies 4U, and to all the supporters who have faithfully followed the club during this most difficult of seasons.