1st XI lose out again to Stenhousemuir

Greenock 1st XI vs Stenhousemuir
CricHQ40 Cup
Saturday 3rd May 2014

Greenock 1st XI 179 DK Thomas 61, TW Batters 36; I McDonald 5 for 24
Stenhousemuir 180 for 5 A Shahzad 53, S Pono 42


Despite a doom-laden weather forecast, Greenock’s CricHQ 40 sectional cup fixture against Stenhousemuir at Glenpark on Saturday afternoon, was able to be completed without any interruption. The only negative point, from a home team perspective, was the result. Yet again, Stenhousemuir gained victory in a match, which for a large part of the afternoon, Greenock seemed likely to win.

Stenhousemuir won the toss and inserted Greenock on a slow, dampish wicket .....not unexpected after the unpleasant weather during the week, on Wednesday and Thursday in particular.

Greenock suffered an early loss with the departure of skipper Shailesh Prabhu, who was bowled by Amir Shahzad for 4 runs in the very first over of play. But a fine 49 run partnership between U17 Scottish international Neil Flack and St Lucian overseas amateur Dwight Thomas gave Greenock a good platform from which to build. When the partnership was broken, it was young Flack who was returned to the pavilion caught by Muhammad Yasir off the bowling of Robert Angus for 11 runs when the total was on 55 in the fourteenth over.

Chris Hempsey (5) and Harry Briggs(5) both failed to get going, but when Jonathan Hempsey joined Thomas, pictured right, in the middle, the run rate increased quite sharply and the Glenparkers had moved along to 127 in the thirtieth over when Thomas (61) was adjudged LBW, a long way down the wicket, by umpire Andy Baird. His loss was a big disappointment to Greenock and the local supporters, as he was well on top of the visitors’ bowling and seemed set for a very large score.

As so often happens in cricket, one wicket leads to two, and just a few runs after Thomas was out, Jonathan Hempsey mis-timed a pull shot to the leg side and was easily caught at square leg by Chris Halcrow having scored a brisk 24 runs.

Australian amateur Tom Batters, coming in at number seven in the batting line-up, maintained a good scoring rate but unfortunately none of the lower order was able to offer the support which he should have received and wickets tumbled much too quickly. Batters compiled a very fine innings of 36 runs before he was last man out with just two balls of the 40th and final over of the Greenock innings remaining to be bowled.

Top bowler for the visitors was Iain McDonald who returned the impressive figures of 5 wickets for 24 runs from just 5.4 overs. His spell of bowling began well with the wicket of Dwight Thomas in his very first over and he then proceeded to snap up the final four wickets of the Greenock innings. Arguably, his was the match-winning performance of the afternoon.

Greenock went into the tea interval, however, believing that 179 was likely to be a very challenging total for the team from Larbert to chase and that with a good performance in the field a victory could be achieved. Unfortunately, it did not turn out as Greenock supporters had hoped.

Jonathan Hempsey gained what seemed like a good opening wicket in the tenth over of the visitors’ innings when he bowled Akash Rawal for 10 runs. But this breakthrough brought together South African opener Soyisile Pono and Amir Shahzad and these two guided Stenny to 101 before Pono was bowled by off spinner Dwight Thomas for 42. The young South African amateur had survived a very good looking appeal for a run out quite early in his innings when Ben Peterson had a direct hit of the stumps as Pono struggled to make his ground going for a risky second run. He and his team were relieved when umpire Paul Coffey indicated “Not Out”. It was perhaps a defining moment in the match.

Yasir coming in at number four left without scoring, and then Shahzad and Robert Angus guided the Larbert side to 133 in the thirty first over at which time Shahzad got an edge to a ball from Guy Crichton which Chris Hempsey held on to behind the stumps. Stenny needed from 47 runs from 53 balls remaining.

Tom Batters, returning for a second spell, uprooted Angus’ (29) middle stump in the thirty fifth over with the visitors on 164 to give just a glimmer of hope that a home victory could be achieved. However, South African pro Rushdi Jappie (not out 26) and McDonald (not out 9) eased Stenhousemuir over the winning line with just under two overs of the innings remaining.

Tom Batters, Jonathan Hempsey, Dwight Thomas and Guy Crichton all gained one wicket each with Hempsey’s stats of 8 overs, 3 maidens, 1 wicket for 15 runs the pick of the home bowling.

So, not for the first time in the last couple of seasons, Greenock failed to force home an advantage they had built up and Stenhousemuir gained a win, which for a good period in the game they had not looked like doing.