1st XI aim to maintain good form against Accies

The halfway point in the league season has now been reached and Greenock find themselves in fourth position, having won 5 and lost 3 of their 8 completed games. This means that Greenock are still concerned with the quest for one of the two promotion places, although it would be fair to say that they have a bit to do to achieve this target.

If they are to gain promotion, then they can ill afford to lose any more games. This will be a difficult task but not impossible, given their recent form. Stenhousemuir sit atop the league with a perfect record of 8 wins in 8 games and below them come Prestwick who have lost just the one game. As these two sides meet on Saturday, then one of them will come back to the chasing pack, which is led by Poloc, followed by Greenock. How Greenock must regret starting their season with two straight defeats.

The first of the return set of games takes place this Saturday at New Anniesland where Greenock travel to play Glasgow Accies. The first encounter between these two sides at Glenpark was a match that was punctuated with rain delays. This brought Duckworth-Lewis into the equation but Greenock were eventually able to come out on top, winning by 4 wickets with 3 balls to spare.

It would be reasonable therefore to expect a similarly tight match this Saturday. However, since the first game, Greenock have enjoyed a good spell of form, winning all but one of their games whilst Accies have struggled, losing all five games to remain rooted to the bottom spot in the league table.

That bald statistic does not really tell the full story as only Poloc have defeated Accies with ease so far. They have consistently scored between 150 and 180 runs but it does appear that they lack the bowling strength to defend such totals.

Greenock will approach the game with confidence after last Saturday's convincing win over Stirling County, not to mention the success on the following day against Ayr in the WU40 Cup. The win over Stirling was achieved by the best batting performance of the season which followed up a decent display in the field, although the team were probably somewhat disappointed to let Stirling recover from early setbacks inflicted by a splendid display of swing bowling by club coach Darren Walker.

But 190 is not an easy total to defend on the excellent Stirling pitch and so it proved. The arrival of Tasmanian Trent Keep has brought some real solidarity to the Greenock batting, something that has been lacking in recent seasons. It is probably this one factor that gives confidence that Greenock can maintain their good form and mount a challenge at the top end of the table.

One problem area that exists is the question of who opens the batting with Neil Flack. When skipper Shailesh Prabhu was the other opener, that pairing provided a number of steady starts but injury and now holidays means that an alternative has to be sought. Both Ty Gilmore and Phil McIntosh have been tried in this slot with limited success and it may be that another partnership may be tried this Saturday. The value of a good opening partnership cannot be overestimated as it is this that will set the tone for the rest of the innings.

There is plenty of batting to follow the top three and it was good to see Chris Hempsey get back to some good form last week after some early season injuries. There is plenty of depth in the batting as well with Darren Walker in particular providing stability in the lower order, as he has demonstrated on a number of occasions.

Saturday's selection will be made from a squad of twelve and will show at least three changes from that which beat Stirling. Skipper Prabhu and Sammy Sanghera are unavailable and Phil McIntosh broke his thumb last Saturday but Aidan Forrest is available again. Jonathan Hempsey will lead the side. Louis Ware who was given a couple of weeks out of the team just to give him the chance to get more action with the 2nd XI comes back into contention. Ware is a real prospect for the club as his selection for the Scotland Under-15 team this season has shown and his performance last week when he took 6 for 21 against Stirling 2nd XI, with all six victims being clean bowled, really forced the issue to bring him back into the side.

Ware provides another bowling option for an attack that is steadily becoming more potent. Coach Darren Walker has rolled back the years with a series of outstanding spells and with Blake Taylor, Jonathan Hempsey, Greg McDougall, not to mention Trent Keep and Neil Flack to back him up, this attack should have too much power for Accies.

The Glenpark XI are at home to Anniesland in the Reserve League and are looking for a fourth victory in a row. The first game against Anniesland was abandoned with Glenpark in a good position to force the win and they will be confident of success this time around. This match will start at 1pm.

This match is sponsored by Spar (South Street) Convenience Store

On Sunday, the 1st XI entertain Victoria at Glenpark in the second round of the Western Union 40 Cup. After last Sunday's excellent win over Ayr, the locals will believe that they can make further progress in this competition against Second Division opposition but they need to be wary of their opponents who lead their league with a 100% record. This game will also start at 1pm.

A squad of thirteen has been chosen for this game and included within that number is Harry Briggs who has made a much earlier return than expected from his broken ankle, sustained whilst playing rugby for his school.

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