1st XI look to bounce back against Stirling

After the disappointment of last Saturday's defeat to Stenhousemuir at Glenpark, Greenock will look to return to winning form this weekend when they travel through to Stirling to meet Stirling County at their New Williamfield ground in the shadow of the Wallace Monument.

Once again, last Saturday, it was a batting failure which let the locals down and produced a match of anti climax against the league leaders, when so much more had been hoped for and expected. But that's cricket, and the Glenparkers must bounce back immediately against County.

Confidence is the key for most batsmen to make runs and for the Greenock top order, their lack of regular good scores has undoubtedly influenced their performances out in the middle. But all players go through spells of low scoring form and sooner or later come out the other side and find that their good form has returned. This will undoubtedly be the case for some of the Greenock batsmen who find themselves a bit out of touch, and when it does, an opponent will have a large total to chase or have their total comfortably hunted down.

Saturday's opponents, Stirling County, have almost exactly the same match statistics as Greenock. They have won four, lost three and had one match abandoned. However, they have managed to bag three more bonus points than the Glenparkers and as a result sit one place higher in the league with a very slightly better percentage.

The New Williamfield side have put in a number of fine batting displays and have passed 300 runs in an innings twice this season. On each of these occasions, Stirling have won the toss, batted first and won comfortably. Their three reversals have been when chasing substantial scores against Stenhousemuir, Prestwick and Poloc, who are the top three sides in the league.

Several players have made good scores for County this season. Anton Ehlers, Stirling's South African amateur, has been in good form and scored over 250 runs including a century against Kilmarnock. Matthew Tweedie, who usually bats at number three, has had three innings of well over fifty and young Jack Bradburn (son of the Scotland national coach) has shown that he can also score well at 1st XI level. These three form the major part of the Stirling middle order and may be the key to Greenock containing the New Williamfield side's run scoring.

The performance of Greenock's own middle order batting could also be a very important factor in determining the outcome of Saturday's match, as it is in this area that the team has fallen short in too many games this season. Recently arrived overseas amateur, Trent Keep from Tasmania, is a batsman of proven calibre back in his own part of the world and he could be the player to help bring out the best in the Greenock players.

The young Tasmanian has already shown that he is a player of some considerable ability in the matches he has played since arriving in Scotland last week. He played some fine shots and scored 36 against Ferguslie last Wednesday, 23 against Stenhousemuir in the league fixture last Saturday and on Sunday in a Sunday League fixture against a reasonably strong Renfrew side who had fielded both their pro and amateur, Keep scored a very well composed 92.

The top and middle order in the Greenock batting line-up has failed to fire too frequently this season and, as the mid way mark in the league fixture programme arrives with this game, the Glenpark selectors will be keen to find a successful formula. It may be that last Saturday's opening partnership of Neil Flack and Phil McIntosh will be given another chance despite not making much of a start against Stenhousemuir. They have the potential to score runs with McIntosh, in particular, an attacking type of batsman and Flack, a steady accumulator.

However, it is the middle order which will be giving the Glenpark selectors the biggest headache in terms of selection and positioning. There have been a number of fairly catastrophic collapses following some early losses of wickets which have put the team into difficulty. Sometimes a loss has resulted, at other times a major lower order revival has rescued the team.

Proper partnerships must be developed by the Greenock batsmen with more concentration and application particularly in the first few overs of an innings. Of course, a sound start to the team innings is probably the best solution, and when that is achieved then others in the side arrive at the crease with much greater confidence of adding to the score.

Saturday's team is likely to show just the one change with Sanghera replacing the unavailable Aidan Forrest. Greg McDougall suffered an eye injury against Stenhousemuir last Saturday which required hospital treatment but he should be fit to take his place in the side this Saturday. The match starts at 12 noon.

The Glenpark XI are at home on Saturday for a Reserve League fixture with the Williamfield XI. After two emphatic wins in a row, confidence will be high that a third successive victory can be achieved. This match will start at the later time of 1pm.

The Match Sponsor for this game is Flower Vogue.

On Sunday afternoon at Glenpark, the 1st XI play Premier Division side Ayr in the rescheduled WU40 Cup competition first round. Ayr are sitting comfortably in mid table of the top league and have recorded a number of fine wins this season, so this will be a tough test for Greenock. Indeed, in midweek in the PlayerReg West League Cup quarter final match between the two teams at Cambusdoon, Ayr triumphed comfortably thanks almost entirely to their big hitting South African professional Lenert Van Wyk who scored 107 not out in his side's total of 141 for 3. The Glenparkers will be hoping to turn the tables on Sunday.

The Match Sponsor for this game is Duncan MacKenzie, Craft Butcher, Greenock.

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