1st XI look for third league win in a row

Greenock take to the road this Saturday and travel to meet Weirs at Albert Park in Glasgow on league business after three home fixtures at Glenpark. With two consecutive wins achieved against Glasgow Accies and Poloc, the Glenparkers have gained some much needed confidence and will be keen to continue their good league form.

Last summer in the corresponding fixture at Albert Park, Greenock recorded their highest score of the 2014 season when the team ran up a total of 221 for the loss of 8 wickets and won comfortably by 66 runs. A similar number of runs being scored this Saturday would be welcome and many at Greenock feel that the potential among the current 1st XI is there to be able to achieve such a score and more.

Neil Flack, who will open the batting for Greenock, is the current Under 19 Scotland captain and has been in good form so far this season. However, he is yet to put together a really large score, but one will come soon for sure. At Albert Park last year he top scored with 67 and an innings of a similar nature, or even higher, would set up the team nicely.

Greenock captain, Shailesh Prabhu, has been Flack's opening partner and he has made some good starts so far this season but rarely managed to build a big score. He will be keen to do so this Saturday and if one or both of the openers can anchor the innings, then a large score is a genuine possibility.

But perhaps the key to gaining a large total lies in the middle order of the Glenparkers batting line-up. It is in this area that Greenock's frailty has existed in recent weeks. Patience, application and concentration from players coming out to the wicket at this stage of the innings is crucial for the team performance. And Greg McDougall showed what can be achieved by occupying the crease during last weekend's Scottish Cup match when he helped Greenock reach 160 against Stenhousemuir after a calamitous collapse in the early part of the innings.

If Greenock do bat first, then it is important that a total well in excess of two hundred runs is the target. To achieve such a total, the team must plan well in order to build their innings, and coach Darren Walker will undoubtedly make it clear to the players what he expects of batsmen at different stages of the batting order, depending on how the game develops.

Opponents Weirs recorded their first league win of the 2015 season last Saturday when they overcame Irvine in a very low scoring match at the Ayrshire club's Marress ground. Irvine mustered only 74 before being bowled out and Weirs would have thought a comfortable win was theirs for the taking. However, Irvine almost denied the Glasgow side taking seven wickets before Weirs did claim the win.

Weirs player pool has changed dramatically in recent seasons and, during the winter close season, a significant influx of players from the former Active Life club transferred to the Albert Park club. So, it is likely that there will be a few new faces in their line-up from last season.

In league matches played to date, there has been no one player who has been far and away outstanding in the Glasgow southsiders team. But players who Greenock would do well to watch out for are their two opening bowlers Adil Raza and Syed Shah. The Weirs attack has been led by these two players in each of their league matches and they have each gained a few wickets. Raza has also, in the match against Stenhousemuir, demonstrated that he is capable of scoring some runs with a fifty to his name, while Shah hit a fine 42 against Poloc.

However, in only the opening league match of the season against Poloc have Weirs managed to compile a total of any size. In that match, their batting line-up managed 188 for the loss of just four wickets so it may be that run scoring is their main area of weakness.

The Albert Park wicket is likely to be damp and slow after the prolonged spell of wet weather experienced in the west of Scotland, which might suggest batsmen will require to be patient as they build an innings as the ball will not come on to the bat with any speed.

Greenock will go into this match in Glasgow with confidence knowing that they can win against top opposition and that they have the players in their side who have the proven abilities to score runs and take wickets. So, three wins in a row?? The Glenpark faithful would love to think that will be the case come Saturday evening.

Saturday's team shows just the one change from that which triumphed over Poloc with Phil McIntosh available again and replacing Sam Sanghera. The match starts at 12 noon.

The Glenpark XI are at home this Saturday when they take on Albert Park, who are Weirs 2nd XI, in the Reserve League. It would be fair to say that the team has had a very up and down season so far but on their home pitch, they will be confident of recording a win. Their match will start at the later time of 1pm.

On Sunday, the 1st XI face Ayr at Glenpark in the opening round of this season's WU40 Cup competition. Ayr play in the Premier Division, one league above Greenock, and are the current champions of that league. They have started this season well and their professional, South African Lenert Van Wyk, has been a real run machine for the team in the early part of the season and will be someone Greenock will need to dismiss quickly. This year's 40 Over Cup competition is being played on a straight knock-out basis, as opposed to previous years when it has started with a group stage. So Greenock go into this match knowing that they must win if they are to continue in the competition, the final of which will once again be played at Glenpark

Match Sponsor of the WU40 Cup match which has a 1pm start on Sunday afternoon is Duncan MacKenzie, Craft Butcher, Inverkip Street, Greenock.


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