1st XI face important test against Stenhousemuir

Greenock are at home to league leaders Stenhousemuir at Glenpark on Saturday in a match which will be an important test for the local side. With four straight league wins under their belt, Greenock have a renewed confidence and, if they can win this one, then their challenge for promotion will become more of a real prospect.

Stenhousemuir for their part will be looking to continue their unbeaten league form which currently has them sitting at the top of the table with a 100% record. Stenny have won all six of the matches which they have played and had one other match abandoned due to weather. So this will be a tough and telling match for the Greenock team against a side which is riding high.

The team from the Tryst have won all six of the matches which they have played and had one other match abandoned due to weather. They are a useful outfit in each of the main departments of the game. Their bowling attack has been in fine form with four out of their six league opponents dismissed for totals between 100 and 122. Only Stirling County, in the opening match of the league season, have managed over two hundred runs against the Stenny attack and that was insufficient to overcome the league leaders.

Opening pace bowler Yasir Arfat, is without doubt the most potent force in the Stenhousemuir bowling line-up and he is well known to the Greenock team. He has taken at least three wickets in all but one of the Tryst team's six league outings, and against Weirs, blew the Glasgow team away with 6 wickets for 44 runs. In total, Arfat has taken twenty one league scalps so far in the 2015 season.

In run-scoring, two players in particular have been to the fore for 'Muir. South African professional Rushdie Jappie has had four innings scoring over thirty, while Amir Shazhad has also had four healthy innings which have included 102 against Stirling County.

Then, of course, there is the recent rivalry between the two clubs to take into account. The teams have faced each other on numerous occasions in the last few seasons, and Stenny have come out on top more often than Greenock. Most recently in the Scottish Cup, it was the Stirlingshire side who were victors overcoming Greenock's modest score of 160 all out with relative ease, being just two wickets down.

This weekend, however, Greenock will be looking to redress the balance, and have a strong side out for this important league fixture. Making his first league appearance for the Club will be Trent Keep, a top order batsman who arrived in midweek from Australia. He comes on the very strong recommendations of Australian One Day International team captain George Bailey, who has links with the Greenock club, and former Glenpark professional from Tasmania, Luke Butterworth.

21 year old Tasmanian, Keep, is a talented left hand opening batsman and is tipped to break through into the state side playing Sheffield Shield cricket before long. He played his first match for Greenock on Wednesday evening in the PlayerReg West League Cup match at Glenpark against Ferguslie just hours after arrival and made a very impressive 36 runs.

Keep takes the place as second overseas player at the Club from South African Danico Philmon, who played in just the first league match of the season before having to fly home due to the serious illness of a close family member.

It is likely that Keep will join Neil Flack at the top of the order for Greenock on Saturday as the batting line-up gets re-shaped and, following a very useful innings at Irvine last week, Phil McIntosh may well occupy the important number three spot.

Back into the team at number four will come Ty Gilmore, who missed the Irvine match due to work commitments, while 1st XI captain Shailesh Prabhu will likely occupy the number five slot. With Greenock's other overseas amateur Blake Taylor at six, and former Aussie professional Darren Walker at number seven, the Glenpark batting line-up looks, on paper, the strongest it has been for several seasons.

Greenock's 'tail' therefore will be likely to comprise Jonathan Hempsey , Aidan Forrest, Ben Peterson and Greg McDougall all of whom have the ability to bat and score runs late in the innings if required.

A West District Cricket Union rule means that local Australian resident Rod Mountford is likely to miss out in a place in the team. Only four non Scots qualified players are allowed in the league side and with four Aussies already in the side....Keep, Gilmore, Taylor and Walker...Mountford looks likely to move into the 2nd XI this Saturday.

So all is set for an interesting encounter at Glenpark on Saturday afternoon with visitors Stenhousemuir keen to maintain their unbeaten league record and Greenock seeking to gain their fifth league win on the bounce. All that's needed now is for some sunshine and warm temperatures...or is that asking too much in midsummer in the west of Scotland ?

Saturday's team show a couple of changes from last week with Keep and Gilmore replacing Mountford and Singh. The match starts at 12 noon.

Match Sponsor is CICS Cleaning Services.

The Glenpark XI are away at Larbert on Saturday for a Reserve League fixture with The Tryst. After last week's resounding win over Marress, the team will be eager to notch another victory in what has been a difficult season to date. This match will start at the later time of 1pm.

On Sunday, the Hillend XI should finally get their season underway when they travel to Renfrew for a WDCU Sunday League Division 2 fixture. After such a long wait, the team will be only too pleaased to get on to the park.


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