Greenock beat rain and Kilmarnock

Kilmarnock vs Greenock 1st XI
WDCU CSL First Division
Saturday 11th July 2015

Greenock 1st XI 129 for 9 TR Keep 31; M Dar 4 for 33, M Azeem 3 for 22
Kilmarnock 28 BM Taylor 6 for 20, DK Walker 4 for 6


In an amazing match at the Scott Ellis Recreation Ground, Greenock ran through the Kilmarnock batting, dismissing them for just 28, and thereby keeping in touch with the teams battling for the two promotion places to the Premier Division.

This was a great result for Greenock, bearing in mind that they were fielding an understrength side. Given the way that they had been beaten by Kilmarnock earlier in the season, there was some apprehension about the game but in the end Greenock were far too strong for their opponents.

And not only did the have to beat Kilmarnock there was also the weather to be overcome. Everyone was aware of the morning forecast that predicted rain to reach the west of Scotland some time after 4 o'clock in the afternoon and in the event that forecast proved to be accurate. Greenock just managed to take the last Kilmarnock wicket before the rain started in earnest. Had they failed to do so, then the game would have been a no result as a minimum of twenty overs have to be bowled in the second innings in order to get a result via the Duckworth-Lewis method.

The start of the game was delayed by 40 minutes as efforts were made to dry the outfield after the overnight rain. Darren Walker, who was skippering Greenock in the absence of both Shailesh Prabhu and Jonathan Hempsey, won the toss and elected to bat. Conditions were never going to be easy for batting, something that was noticeable in the majority of games played in the west of Scotland on Saturday.

A new look opening partnership of Ty Gilmore and Aidan Forrest was tried out but they found it hard going against the Kilmarnock attack of S Mustafa and Shah. In the sixth over, the latter induced an edge from Gilmore to the keeper to dismiss him for 4. As an indicator of the difficulties in batting, Gilmore had faced 25 deliveries for those runs.

Trent Keep joined Forrest and they maintained a slow but steady progress, seeing off the opening attack. The introduction of skipper Dar, however, brought about the second wicket, Forrest being caught for 8. 31 for 1 in the 16th over.

The pattern of the innings was now set and it was clear that a large total was out of the question. Blake Taylor joined his fellow Australian at the crease and they took the total to 58 in the 25th over when Keep, who had found run-scoring to be a little easier than his team-mates was caught behind for 31 off the bowling of Azeem. When the latter bowled Taylor for 8, two overs later, after he had resisted for 40 balls, Greenock were in a spot of difficulty at 60 for 4.

There followed an important partnership between Greg McDougall and young Louis Ware. Taking the opportunity to score when they could, but taking as few risks as possible, they saw the scoreboard reach three figures before being parted when Ware was stumped off the bowling of the veteran Pasha for a hard-fought 18. In the context of the game and given his relative inexperience this was an excellent knock.

Darren Walker hit a couple of boundaries in his knock of 8 and Harry Briggs was dismissed LBW for zero in his comeback game before McDougall was finally out with the score on 120. He had batted for 71 minutes, facing a similar number of deliveries, for his 26 which included the only six of the innings. A fine knock in difficult circumstances and it meant that Greenock would at least bat out their 50 overs, something which in recent years they have been prone not to do.

Ben Peterson was stumped for 2 and Sammy Sanghera (7) and Fraser Godsman (1) saw out the final overs to leave Greenock on 129 for 9 after 50 overs of hard work. This was at least a total that could be defended, given the state of the wicket. For Kilmarnock, Dar with 4 for 33 and Azeem with 3 for 22 were the most successful bowlers.

After the relatively sedate cricket of the first innings, little could have prepared anyone for the explosive start to the Kilmarnock reply. Blake Taylor's second ball saw opener Azeem, who had batted well in the first game, caught by Keep without scoring. Darren Walker shared the new ball and with the fifth and sixth ball of his first over he bowled Ali and then M Ahmed, also both for ducks. When Taylor had S Ahmed caught by Briggs in the next over for 8, Kilmarnock were 8 for 4 after just 16 deliveries.

It now became a matter of beating the incoming rain. A small partnership between Dhaliwal and U Mustafa saw the score edge up to 22 before Walker claimed his third wicket trapping the former LBW for 2. This dismissal seemed to open the floodgates and almost before anyone knew it, Kilmarnock were all out for 28 in just 13 overs. The rain had been beaten and so had Kilmarnock, by 101 runs, as Greenock earned the win they craved and deserved.

Blake Taylor took 6 for 20 in 7 overs and the evergreen Darren Walker 4 for 6 in his 6 overs. It was a spell of pace bowling that Kilmarnock had no answer to and it was exactly what Greenock needed. It had been predicted before the game that if early wickets could be taken, then Kilmarnock would fold and that proved to be the case.

The one disappointment for Greenock was to learn that the three clubs ahead of them in the table had all won. This leaves Stenhousemuir on 100%, Prestwick on 93.52%, Poloc on 80.95% and Greenock on 74.07%. Clearly this leaves Greenock with much to do if they are to make it into the top two but it is not impossible. Next Saturday's match at Glenpark against Prestwick now assumes great importance. For Greenock, it is quite simply a must-win game. Defeat would kill off any chance of promotion but a win would keep the hopes of all the Greenock players and supporters alive.