Flack scores maiden century but Stirling get the points

Stirling County vs Greenock 1st XI
WDCU CSL First Division
Saturday 21st June 2014

Greenock 1st XI 199 for 2 ND Flack 117*, AP Forrest 60
Stirling County 200 for 4 B Williams 67, A Ehlers 45*, G Anderson 45; DK Thomas 3 for 15


Under 17 Scottish internationalist Neil Flack scored his maiden senior competitive century for Greenock against Stirling County at New Williamfield on Saturday, but it was the home side who collected the points. Despite a much improved run-scoring performance from Greenock, just one week on from what was a batting disaster against Kelburne, the Glenparkers innings total of almost two hundred runs was still not enough to deny league leaders Stirling from gaining the win.

Greenock centurion, Neil Flack

Greenock won the toss and opted to bat, but in just the third over of play, an all too familiar scenario occurred when Stirling gained an early wicket. West Indian overseas amateur Dwight Thomas edged a delivery from County’s opening pace bowler, South African amateur Anton Ehlers, and wicket-keeper Taylor took a fine diving catch.

Six runs on the board, one wicket down, and Greenock’s two youngest 1st XI players on the day Neil Flack and Aidan Forrest now occupying the crease out in the middle. What happened next was most definitely not what anyone could have imagined......a 186 run partnership which was only broken in the very final over of the innings.

In-form Flack, still just 16 years of age, assumed the lead role in the partnership with 19 year old Forrest, and the two young players steadily raised the total, first to fifty in the seventeenth over and then on to one hundred in the twenty seventh over.

Stirling’s opening pace attack of Anton Ehlers and Paul Bielby were both seen off and various change bowlers brought into the attack, as County captain Gavin Anderson sought to break the partnership. Sri Lankan spinner Lukman Hewage was tried and then Ian Shaw, Chris Morton and Alex Campbell all had spells with the ball.

One hundred and fifty runs came up in the forty third over and then Neil Flack reached his own personal goal, a first senior competitive century. Aidan Forrest reached his fifty shortly afterwards and the two youngsters, having been a little becalmed as they neared their notable milestones, sought to up the run rate which they did.

Forrest, pictured above, was bowled with the very first ball of the last over of the Greenock innings for a fine 60 as he attempted to hoist Alex Campbell for a maximum, and with the five remaining balls, stand-in captain Jonathan Hempsey and Flack added seven runs to take the Glenparkers to 199 for the loss of just two wickets. Flack was not out 117.

No bookmaker in the UK would have given serious odds for Greenock’s innings to have played out in the way it did.

Stirling opened their innings with captain Gavin Anderson and Andy Carswell, and the pair put on seventeen runs for the first wicket before Carswell was out for 8. He gave a low return catch to Greenock’s Aussie amateur Tom Batters who was bowling from the pavilion end.

The fall of this wicket brought the in-form and very dangerous Bradley Williams to the crease, and together with his captain the pair put on 107 runs before Williams departed in bizarre circumstances.

Having looked comfortable at the crease he went for another big shot as he faced the off spin of St Lucian, Dwight Thomas, only to edge the ball which lodged in the stand-in wicketkeeper Kevin Flack’s pads…. and he was out ‘caught’ for 67. Williams hit seven fours and one maximum in his hard hitting innings.

The loss of Williams gave Greenock some hope and shortly afterwards the Glenparkers gained a further wicket when Matthew Tweedie was caught by Rod Mountford at point, from the bowling of Thomas, to make it 136 for 3.

Hopes were raised further when opening bat Gavin Anderson, going for a sweep shot against Dwight Thomas, missed the ball and was trapped LBW for 45 with the score then on 149 for 4 in the 28th over.

However, Greenock’s slim hopes were soon extinguished, as Anton Ehlers and Graeme Taylor saw County over the line without further loss in the thirty sixth over to give the league leaders a comfortable win. Ehlers had hit a quick-fire 45 from 27 balls and his innings included six fours and two sixes.

Greenock used eight bowlers during the Stirling innings, with Dwight Thomas the most successful with 3 wickets for 15 runs from 6 overs. Tom Batters was the only other wicket-taker with 1 for 35 from 8.3 overs.

This was a much improved batting performance from Greenock, although, with a more aggressive approach in the last fifteen or so overs of their innings, perhaps 250 runs could have been achieved. However, a partnership of 186 runs from two young players is encouraging for the future well-being of the team and batting through to the conclusion of the fifty overs, a target which has been sought to be achieved, but without success, in too many matches already this season.