1st XI head for Larbert to lay the bogey


Greenock travel through to Larbert on Saturday to play league leaders Stenhousemuir for their penultimate league fixture of 2015. The Stirlingshire team have, for the last few seasons, been Greenock's bogey side and so a win against them would be a welcome way to approach the end of the league programme.

It will be no easy task, however, as Stenny have been riding high in the league all season and have suffered just one loss out of fourteen matches completed. That loss came in mid July when near neighbours Stirling County pulled off a surprising win by the narrowest of margins to end 'Muir's unbeaten run.

When the two sides met at Glenpark in mid June, Stenhousemuir won with considerable ease, but since then the arrival of top Tasmanian batsman, Trent Keep, as Greenock's second overseas amateur, has led to a very significant improvement in the local team's form.

Keep has brought a solidity to the Greenock middle order batting that has been missing for the last few seasons and, as a result, the team confidence has risen. He has scored over 300 runs in the six league matches in which he has played and, having been not out in two of these matches, he is averaging 84 runs per innings.

Greenock have become a much more competitive side and now go into each match believing that they can win. And the trip to the Tryst ground in Larbert on Saturday will be no different.

Neil Flack is growing in experience and confidence with every game and is due a big score and, along with his new opening batting partner, Jonathan Hempsey, will look to get the Greenock innings off to a solid start. And then there is 15 year old Louis Ware who last Saturday notched up his first senior 'fifty'. He is a considerable talent and as well as scoring runs , he is also a more than useful pace bowler.

Stenhousemuir, for their part, will also be very focused on winning, as they currently top the First Division. However, they do so by just 4.76% from second placed Prestwick and so just one slip up in their final two matches could see their title aspirations disappear.

The Stirlingshire side have a number of players who Greenock must beware of when the teams meet at The Tryst on Saturday. South African professional Rushdie Jappie and top order batsman Amir Shahzad have been in good run-scoring form for much of the season and removing them early in their innings would certainly give the Glenparkers a big opportunity to win the match.

Opening bowler Yasar Arfat has frequently been a problem player for Greenock. His pace and aggressive approach to the game will need to be dealt with appropriately by the top order batsmen who must focus on their own skills as they seek to build important partnerships. Shahzad too has picked up wickets in recent encounters between the sides and if the threat from both of these bowlers can be minimised then Greenock may well find a sizeable total is very real prospect.

The Greenock side itself has a much improved bowling attack this season with Darren Walker and Blake Taylor causing most sides significant issues. Indeed last Saturday Walker returned the excellent figures of 5 wickets for 49 runs from 14 overs in the win over Irvine with Taylor also chipping in with two wickets. And only last month the pair routed the Kilmarnock batting with Taylor taking 6 wickets for just 20 runs and Walker 4 wickets for just 6 runs.

Greenock have won eight out of the thirteen league matches which have been completed to date in the rain interrupted 2015 'summer', and will be aiming to end the season with a win this weekend through at Larbert and then again next Saturday at Glenpark against Stirling County. If this target is achieved, then Greenock will definitely hold on to fourth top position and may even move up to third in the league table if third placed Poloc slip up.

So, the scene is set for a competitive and very important match at the Tryst on Saturday afternoon which Greenock must win if they are to maintain their fourth top position and Stenhousemuir must win if their league title hopes are to remain in place.

The team for Saturday's match which starts at 12 noon shows one change from last week's selection with Chris Hempsey replacing Harry Briggs.

The Glenpark XI will be keen to record their seventh league win of the season when they take on Stenhousemuir 2nd XI (The Tryst) at Glenpark in a Reserve League fixture. The 'Muir 2nd XI are currently a couple of positions below the Glenpark XI in the Reserve League table and back in June it was the Greenock side which won with some ease when the two teams met at The Tryst.  This match will start at 12.30pm.

Match Sponsor for the game v The Tryst at Glenpark on Saturday is The Inverkip Hotel.


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