Greenock fall to Stenhousemuir again

Greenock 1st XI vs Stenhousemuir
WDCU CSL First Division
Saturday 20th June 2015

Greenock 1st XI 108 DK Walker 31; Y Arfat 5 for 32, R Jappie 3 for 23
Stenhousemuir 109 for 2 R Jappie 39*, A Shahzad 35*


Greenock missed out on the opportunity to put themselves into a promotion challenging position on Saturday when they went down by eight wickets to league leaders Stenhousemuir at Glenpark. The Stirlingshire side proved too strong for Greenock and continued their recent stranglehold over the Glenparkers with another very comfortable victory.

Indeed, even from before the start of play, Stenhousemuir had gained the advantage by winning the toss and making the decision to ask Greenock to bat on a slow, green wicket which was the result of the cool, damp conditions experienced during the week prior to the match.

And the visitors made full advantage of the conditions by striking early with the removal of both Greenock's opening batsmen within the first seven overs. Neil Flack was first to go in just the third over, edging a delivery from Stenny's top wicket-taker, pace bowler Yasir Arfat, which was caught by wicketkeeper Chris Halcrow.

Flack's opening partner, Phil McIntosh, departed just four overs later having scored 14 runs and having looked in good form. He had hit three good boundaries but then misjudged a delivery from Arfat and was bowled. When that second wicket fell there were twenty three runs on the scoreboard for the loss two wickets after just seven overs and so, not for the first time this season, Greenock had failed to make a sound start to their innings.

Then, just when it looked like a decent partnership was developing for the third wicket between recently arrived Aussie amateur Trent Keep and Chris Hempsey, the latter was bowled by South African pro Rushdie Jappie for 7 runs, having helped to add twenty two runs in seven overs in the partnership.

What followed was the now all too familiar batting implosion. From 45 for 3 in the fourteenth over, Greenock collapsed to 62 for 8 in the twenty fifth over. Shailesh Prabhu, Ty Gilmore and Jonathan Hempsey all fell victim to Arfat, while Jappie picked up the key wicket of Trent Keep (23) and also Blake Taylor.

Then, when Greg McDougall top edged a delivery from Rushdie Jappie and had to retire hurt to seek hospital treatment for an eye injury, Greenock were, to all intents and purposes, nine wickets down.

However, a very fine rearguard action partnership from Darren Walker and Aidan Forrest prevented one of Greenock's lowest scores in recent league cricket as the two patiently made runs to cause the score to creep along. The Glenparkers got a hundred runs on the board in the thirty eighth over, but soon after Amir Shahzad brought the home innings to a close when Walker was bowled for 31. Aidan Forrest who had played a very important supporting role to his more experienced batting partner was not out 13 as Greenock closed on 108.

Yasir Arfat, who it was mentioned in our preview was likely to be the main bowling threat to Greenock, finished with the excellent figures of 5 wickets for 32 runs from 15 overs while Rushie Jappie had 3 for 23 from 10 overs.

The Stenhousemuir reply after tea was rarely in trouble and although Greenock did manage to pick up the wickets of both of the Stirlingshire side's opening batsmen Akash Rawal and Ashikanth Davidar before the end of the eleventh over, it was Shahzad and Jappie who once again were the visitors' aces as they picked off the runs required and moved closer and closer to the target total.

And with just 29.4 overs bowled, the team from The Tryst scored the winning runs with a boundary to complete a very comfortable win and maintained their 100% league record. Shahzad was 35 not out and Jappie 39 not out.

So Greenock's good run of form in recent weeks, with four straight league wins, came to an end on Saturday at Glenpark. The local side's promotion challenge has been damaged without doubt, but if the team can return to winning ways in the weeks ahead, then there remains the possibility of once again challenging the sides who currently occupy the top positions.