Dismal Greenock performance hands first league win to Weirs

Greenock 1st XI vs Weirs
WDCU CSL First Division
Saturday 12th July 2014

Weirs 180 A Hafeez 64; ND Flack 5 for 28
Greenock 1st XI 89 A Hafeez 5 for 33, RS Young 3 for 7


Another Saturday. Another opportunity to gain a win from a good position. Another poor batting display and the elusive second league victory Greenock have been chasing for far too many weeks still remains out of reach.

Not for the first time, or even the third or fourth time this season, Greenock let slip a good position in the field and then followed up with a batting display which oozed with a lack of confidence from a group of players well capable of so much better.

The weather forecasts of Thursday and Friday had suggested that there was little or no prospect of cricket on Saturday with heavy rain due to move in from the west, but as the morning passed with almost no rain at all, it became clear that the match at Glenpark would at least get started, if not perhaps make it all the way to a conclusion. As it was, only a brief interruption during the first part of play caused any delay.

Greenock won the toss, inserted Weirs and got off to the best possible start when Aussie pace bowler Tom Batters had opening bat Russell Murray caught behind by Kevin Flack from the very first ball of the match.

Weirs’ other opener Chris Smith and Pakistani professional Anwar Hafeez then got the visitors into the game by scoring at a reasonably brisk rate, but also with a little luck, as a couple of possible chances were unable to be taken. However, the partnership was eventually broken in the fifteenth over when Smith hoisted a delivery from Dwight Thomas to Greg McDougall who took the catch to dismiss him for 21 runs with the score on 71.

Hafeez was joined by Mohammed Akram and the scoring rate of around five runs per over was maintained until the 26th over when the Weirs pro was given out LBW to Neil Flack having scored a fine 64 and with the visitors total on 124.

A mini collapse ensued at this point with Akram (26) being very smartly run out, with no further runs added to the score, thanks to good work by Tom Batters in the field and Kevin Flack keeping wicket. Only two runs later and Weirs were five wickets down when Batters, back for a second bowling spell, clean bowled the visitors captain David McCaig who had faced just four balls and scored a solitary run.

With half of the Weirs wickets captured, Greenock needed to maintain the momentum which they had built up thanks to the sudden change in fortunes in the game. However, experienced campaigner Richard (Siggy) Young, along with Sherali Afzal, stemmed the tide for a short time while also adding twenty six very useful runs before Afzal (8) was caught by Dwight Thomas from the bowling of Ben Peterson. 152 for 6 wickets in the 31st over.

Another clutch of wickets fell quickly following Afzal’s dismissal. Young became Neil Flack’s second victim of the afternoon when he was caught by Batters for 13 runs. Next, Shahid Hanif (1) was caught and bowled by Neil Flack and then Derek Pettigrew(3) was caught by Ben Peterson also from Flack’s bowling. 159 for 9 wickets.

A last wicket partnership of 21 runs from Sean Friel (10) and Derek Wright (4) took up seven overs as Greenock tried to bring the visitors’ innings to an end. It eventually came when Neil Flack claimed his fifth wicket of the afternoon by having Friel stumped by his dad Kevin.

Flack’s bowling stats for the afternoon were impressive with 5 wickets for 28 runs from 9 overs. Other wicket-takers were Tom Batters 2 for 50 from 10 overs, Dwight Thomas 1 for 18 from 5 overs and Ben Peterson 1 for 22 from 7 overs.

Needing under four runs per over to gain the win, Greenock made a less than promising start losing opening batsmen Neil Flack (3) and Shailesh Prabhu (12) with less than twenty runs on the scoreboard. Both were victims of left arm opening bowler ‘Siggy’ Young with Flack LBW and Prabhu bowled.

West Indian amateur Dwight Thomas, batting at number three, looked in the mood to make the big score of which he is capable and had reached 29 after 50 balls and almost an hour at the crease when a missed shot saw him bowled by Derek Pettigrew.

Thomas’ dismissal with the total on 55 for the loss of 3 wickets, and with 126 runs still needed to gain the win, seemed to send a wave of uncertainty into the rest of the Greenock line-up. Aidan Forrest and Jonathan Hempsey departed with only two more runs on the board making the score 57 for 5 in the 23rd over.

Rod Mountford and Harry Briggs then added 22 runs in a brief, five over spell which ended when Briggs was bowled by Hafeez for 6. Tom Batters had a very short stay in the middle and then Mountford was caught Friel bowled Hafeez for 13. Score after 30 overs 84 for 8.

Only a minor miracle was needed if Greenock were not to lose from this position. None occurred at Glenpark on Saturday afternoon.

Greg McDougall became Hafeez’s fifth wicket of the afternoon when he was caught by wicket-keeper/captain David McCaig, while the last wicket fell on 89 when Ben Peterson was bowled by ‘Siggy’ Young.

Anwar Hafeez took 5 for 33 from 10 overs, Siggy Young took 3 for 7 from 10.2 overs and Derek Pettigrew 2 for 24 from 7 overs.

A second league win of this season is surely just around the corner, but to achieve it, Greenock must first learn to bat as a team and avoid groups of wickets falling during an innings.