1st XI face tough fixture with Poloc

With just a glimmer of hope still to be had in relation to promotion to the Premier Division following last Saturday's loss to Prestwick with the penultimate ball of the game, Greenock travel to meet Poloc in Glasgow for this weekend's league encounter.

Poloc are the in-form side in Scotland at present, having recently won both the Rowan Cup and West League Cup and are also awaiting to play their semi final tie in the Scottish Cup.

Despite these excellent achievements, the Glasgow side are not yet assured of gaining promotion to the Premier League as they occupy third top spot in Division One which is just one place above Greenock. So Saturday's fixture has huge implications for both teams.

Earlier in the season, Greenock pulled off a very fine win over Poloc at Glenpark when the two sides met in May. Batting first on that occasion, Greenock managed to score just 144 all out, having been inserted by the Glasgow side, and Poloc looked to be favourites to gain a win. However, Greenock turned the tables after the tea interval and the visitors were bowled out for only 74, with Darren Walker taking 5 wickets for 31 from 10 overs bowled.

Walker is unavailable for this weekend, which is a blow for Greenock considering the influence he has had on the side's performances this season. But the team has increased in confidence since that win against Poloc in May and will be ready for this important match on Saturday at Shawholm.

Australian batsman Trent Keep has been an inspirational addition to the Greenock team since his arrival in mid June and his run scoring has given the Glenparkers' batting line-up a much more solid feel. His countryman Blake Taylor has also been in fine form with the ball taking a magnificent 6 wickets for just 20 runs a couple of weeks ago as Greenock routed Kilmarnock.

Saturday's opponents, Poloc, will also look to their two overseas players to provide top performances in the match at Shawholm. Overseas amateur Chris Graham and professional Niel Bredenkamp, both from South Africa, have been the mainstays of the Shawholm team's batting in almost all of the games which the Glasgow side has played this season.

Poloc's league programme has been badly affected by the poor weather in the west of Scotland and five matches out of the twelve scheduled to have been completed by this stage have been washed out. However, it is worth noting that in the seven which have been played, Bredenkamp has scored over 350 runs including two centuries and Graham's run tally is close to 300 with a century and also an innings of 95 to his name.

So the key to a winning result for Greenock may well depend on quickly removing these two players when they come out to occupy the crease.

But it is not just these two players alone of whom Greenock must beware. Craig Young, James Millen and Syed Shah are also very able batsmen, so Greenock must not be complacent if the overseas players do get removed early.

In their bowling attack, Poloc have used a very consistent formula in their league programme this season. Ihtisham Malik and Azeem Akbar have opened the bowling in each match and between them have taken 25 wickets. They are backed up by change bowlers South African pro Niel Bredenkamp, Syed Aslam and the experienced Imran Adrees who in the match against bottom club St Michaels two weeks ago returned the sparkling figures of 7 wickets for 28 runs from 10 overs.

However, it was Bredenkamp who was the bowler whom Greenock batsman found most difficult to deal with when the teams met in May. His ten overs yielded just seven runs and four Greenock batsmen were sent packing.

Greenock will have Scotland U19 captain Neil Flack back to lead the batting order after his team's World Cup qualification triumph. Flack was the World Cup qualification tournament's top scorer and the Glenpark side will be hopeful that his good form will continue on Saturday.

Getting a good first wicket partnership going would be a great confidence booster for the Greenock team which has seldom made a really solid start to an innings this season.

Who Flack will bat alongside at the top of the order is still open to question, but Aidan Forrest has scored well in the last couple of matches. Then at number three, Australian Trent Keep will be a key player. He has shown fine form since his arrival in Greenock despite rarely getting decent conditions to bat in due to the persistent poor weather.

As so often happens, if a good start can be made then others will score well later in the innings and Greenock have plenty of players capable of scoring runs if their confidence is high.

So, the scene is set for a competitive and very important match at Shawholm on Saturday afternoon which Greenock must win if their interest in gaining one of the promotion places is to be maintained.

The team for the match, which starts at 12 noon, shows three changes from the one which beat Kilmarnock with Flack, Gilmore and Ware replacing Briggs, Peterson and Walker.

The Glenpark XI are at home to Shawholm in the Reserve League on Saturday in a match which will start at 1pm. The Glasgow side currently sit in second place in the league and always field a strong side. This will therefore by a difficult game for the Glenparkers, whose run of recent victories came to a halt last weekend against league leaders St Ninians (Prestwick).

This match is sponsored by Donalds Cream Ices.

On Sunday at Glenpark, Premier Division side Tunnock's Uddingston are the opposition as the 1st XI seek to qualify for the semi-final stage of this season's WU40 Cup competition. Uddingston are currently sitting in mid table of the top league having won five out of their nine Premier league matches to date. The winner of this quarter final tie will travel to play either East Kilbride or Kelburne in the semi final.

The team to play Uddingston shows several changes from that which plays Poloc on the previous day with Jonathan Hempsey in charge. The match will start at 1pm.

This match is sponsored by The Petshop Postie


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