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1st XI seek to move up table with fourth win in a row

Greenock play host to Dumfries side St Michael's at Glenpark on Saturday afternoon, and will be seeking to record a fourth straight league victory, following on from last week's dramatic finish to their match at Weirs, when an important win was achieved.

It was a win which had looked to be unlikely for a good part of the Greenock innings, as wickets once again tumbled after a decent start. But team captain, Shailesh Prabhu, played a match-winning innings, despite picking up a hamstring injury, and got his side over the line for a very important victory which lifted the Glenparkers into fourth top spot in the league.

Another win on Saturday could see Greenock climb even higher as Poloc and Prestwick, who occupy the positions immediately above Greenock, are in opposition at the Henry Thow Oval in Prestwick.

Home team captain Prabhu is unlikely to feature this weekend due to his hamstring injury and therefore a reshuffle of the batting line-up is likely to be enforced at the top of the order. Coach Darren Walker and Prabhu will have been discussing how to shape the batting order and will be keen to create a line-up which is more secure than in recent weeks.

Especially so will be their focus on the middle order batting positions which have been much too brittle and lacking in run scoring contributions. The players occupying these key positions in recent weeks are all able to score big runs but have had a spell of poor form. This happens in cricket and they will bounce back. It would not be surprising if Saturday's opposition, St Michael's, is the team against which these players once again find their batting form.

The Dumfries side won their opening league fixture of the season when they defeated Glasgow Accies at New Anniesland, but since then have had two matches abandoned by the weather and also suffered two crushing defeats, firstly from league leaders Stenhousemuir and then last Saturday from Irvine.

There have been few individual performances of any note from St Michael's in the games which they have completed, but the following players may be ones for Greenock to keep an eye on. Indian middle order bat Rohin Thapar scored a fine 54 against Stenhousemuir and followed up with 24 runs and 3 wickets for 53 against Irvine last Saturday, while Aussie Adam Cooper scored 41 runs against Irvine.

In the St Michael's bowling attack, slow left-armer Chris Brockwell has picked up at least one wicket in each of the matches played and had the fine figures of 3 wickets for 8 runs in the game against Stenhousemuir.

This is very definitely a game which Greenock will look to win and should start favourites to do so. If batting first, the Glenparkers must look to build a total well in excess of two hundred runs and, with a plan in place, have the players capable of scoring such a total. Much, of course, will depend on getting a good foundation laid early in the innings and then the middle order coming good and building on it. If that all works well, then late in the innings some significant late runs can really boost the final total.

Neil Flack has made a number of good starts at the top of the order and will be keen to go on and make a big score as will powerful Australian Ty Gilmore who is gradually getting used to the wickets in the west of Scotland.

Greenock's other Aussies, Rod Mountford, Blake Taylor and coach Darren Walker, have all shown that they can make runs in games played in the first few weeks of the season and could each easily come good again this Saturday against St Michael's.

Indeed most of the Greenock line-up have the potential to contribute with the bat and have on numerous previous occasions this season, or last, done so. Jonathan Hempsey, Greg McDougall, Phil McIntosh, Aidan Forrest and Louis Ware can all do well with the bat and just need a confidence boost to get going. If a score is on the board when they get to the middle each is likely to put bat to ball and propel the Greenock score along to a sizeable total.

But it is not just scoring runs which wins games, it is also the business of taking wickets and fielding well. In both these areas Greenock have shown very positive signs this season thanks to the work being done by coach Darren Walker. In the last three league matches Greenock have had Glasgow Accies nine wickets down for 150 runs and bowled out both Poloc and Weirs for lowly totals. Another good performance in the field on Saturday will do much to earn maximum points for a fourth week in a row.

Saturday's team shows just the one change from that which triumphed over Poloc with Sam Sanghera replacing the injured Shailesh Prabhu. The match starts at 12 noon.

Match Sponsor of Saturday's match is The Bluebird Cafe, Gourock.

The Glenpark XI make the long journey down to Dumfries to take on St Michael's second eleven, Kingholm, in the Reserve League. After last week's disappointing reverse to Albert Park, the team will be keen to get back to winning ways. Their match will start at the later time of 1pm.

On Sunday, the Hillend XI begin their league campaign in Division 2 of the WDCU Sunday League with a home fixture against Poloc Panthers. This game will commence after the official opening of the club's Multi-User Games Area by Mrs Ann McGarva. The Glasgow side are likely to present a stiff test to the Hillend boys but as ever on a Sunday, much will depend on the teams that take the park. Hillend will certainly take the opportunity to field some of the club's promising youngsters to give them experience in a longer version of the game than they are used to.

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