Challenging weekend ahead for 1st XI

Greenock are at home once again this Saturday and welcome Poloc CC from Glasgow's south side for the match at Glenpark. Having recorded their first league win of the season against Glasgow Accies last weekend, and also having defeated Premier League side Kelburne in a mid-week PlayerReg West League Cup tie, the Greenock team will be looking to continue their winning form against Poloc.

The Glenparkers win last Saturday was a real all round team performance. The bowling workload was spread around with six bowlers used during Accies innings. Former Australian professional Darren Walker, now settled and living locally, demonstrated that he still has the talent to tame opposition batsmen with 3 wickets for 33 runs from a spell of ten overs. And he was ably supported by other wicket-taking performances from Blake Taylor, Jonathan Hempsey and Phil McIntosh.

The important business of run-scoring (Greenock's Achilles heel in recent seasons) also came good with the top six batsmen in the Glenpark line-up all contributing significant runs to enable the Accies score to be overtaken. In the last few years, this would have been the sort of score Greenock would have failed to achieve.

Fielding too was of a high standard with catches taken and a smart run out achieved, the hard work from training under the watchful eye of coach Darren Walker showing dividends.

The side to meet Poloc at Glenpark on Saturday afternoon will be much the same as played Accies last weekend, with just Phil McIntosh unavailable and into the team will come Sam Sanghera who provides excellent fielding cover and also a bowling option for Greenock captain Shailesh Prabhu.

The local side will be keen to show that their run-scoring good form can be maintained and much will be expected once again from the top six batsmen. If a good innings foundation can be laid by the opening pair, and in particular if one of the openers can bat through a large number of overs, then Greenock can expect to gain plenty of runs.

Opponents Poloc have shown excellent early season form in the matches which they have been able complete with three wins out of three in competitive cricket, two of which have been 20 overs a side midweek evening cup competitions. The Glasgow south-siders have completed only one league match so far due to the wet weekend weather which has caused their last two Saturday matches to be abandoned.

In the matches which have gone ahead, the influence of Poloc's overseas players professional Niel Bredenkamp and amateur Christopher Graham, both South Africans, has been immense in the Loc's performances. Opening batsman Graham scored 95 in the league match against Weirs at Shawholm on the first Saturday in May and Bredenkamp, batting at number three, added 44 in the side's total of 189 for 5.

Graham also scored 56 not out against Irvine in a midweek Murgitroyd Rowan Cup match while Bredenkamp demonstrated that he is a real threat with the ball taking 4 wickets for just 12 runs in a PlayerReg West League Cup game against Clydesdale, followed up with 4 wickets for just 7 runs in last Saturday's abandoned league match against Irvine.

But it is not just these two players Greenock should be watchful of on Saturday. Craig Young, batting usually in the top four, has also been in fine form scoring 140 in his three innings to date with a top score of 76 against Irvine in the midweek Murgitroyd Rowan Cup match against Irvine.

And in their bowling line-up Poloc have several options. Ihtisham Malik, Poloc's young U18 player who has already received a call up into the senior Reivers side for North Sea Pro Series, has been the Loc's opening bowler in each of the matches in which he has played and he has picked up a total of 6 wickets for 82 runs from 26 overs bowled.

Malik has been well supported in the Poloc opening bowling attack by Azeem Akbar, who joined up at Shawholm at the end of April from Hamilton CC and also Syed Aslam, not forgetting, of course, South African Pro Bredenkamp. Akbar has picked up wickets in each of his matches and has taken 8 for 106 runs from 32 overs.

So, Greenock will face a very tough test when Poloc roll up at Glenpark on Saturday. But it is a test which the Glenparkers should look forward to, as it will provide a good indicator for the progress which the side is currently making.

Saturday's team shows just the one change from that which triumphed over Glasgow Accies with Sam Sanghera replacing the unavailable Phil McIntosh. The match starts at 12 noon.

The Glenpark XI are away again on Saturday when they travel to Glasgow to play the Shawholm XI in a match which starts at 1pm. The Poloc reserve side are always a strong combination but the Glenpark team will be buoyed by their recent form and be keen to record another victory.

On Sunday, the 1st XI face Stenhousemuir in their re-arranged Scottish Cup first round match which was unable to be played at The Tryst last Sunday because of the weather. As Greenock travelled through to Stenhousemuir and no play was possible, the Cup rules state that the home side loses their ground advantage and have to travel to their opponents' ground. So it is Glenpark this Sunday afternoon.

Stenhousemuir have been in fine league form in the first three Saturdays of May with wins recorded against Stirling County, Weirs and Prestwick. The team from the Tryst has also been a bit of a bogey team for Greenock in recent seasons and it would seem that the Glenparkers will need to be on top form to be able to redress this run of reversals. Unfortunately, it does look as if the team will not be at full strength due to work commitments for some of the players.

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