Greenock head to St Michael's in confident mood


Greenock make the long journey south to Dumfries on Saturday for their match with St Michael's, and will do so with some confidence, after some fine performances in recent weeks which have elevated the local side into second top position in the WDCU Division One league table.

Saturday's opponents began the season well and for the first number of weeks sat atop the table. But in the last two weeks consecutive defeats against Irvine and Renfrew have caused the Dumfries side to slide down the table. Greenock will be keen to make it three defeats in a row when the sides meet this weekend.

For a while, St Michael's were being compared to English Premiership football side Leicester City, as the south of Scotland team had faced the prospect of being relegated in advance of this season, only to gain a series of wins from their opening matches in the league programme.

Wins were secured over Hillhead, Weirs, Poloc and Stirling County, but losses to Irvine and Renfrew in quick succession have brought to an end the good work from the first four completed matches of the league programme. A number of players performed well for St Michael's in those first few weeks and Greenock must ensure that they are given due respect on Saturday.

Team captain, Tom Holmes and Chris Brockwell have been the stand-out players for the Dumfries side. Both are all rounders who have had several fine scores with the bat and also a number of excellent performances with the ball. If these two players can be contained then Greenock will be well placed to win the match as very few other players in the St Michael's side have shown any meaningful form in the games played to date.

The Greenock team for its part, has now built up a momentum thanks to four consecutive league wins. Confidence is high and a strong team spirit has been created within the young side. If one player does not produce a performance, then others have been able to step up to the mark. The players work hard for each other.

Run-scoring has been a major improvement for Greenock this season compared to recent times and there is now a sense of 'can do', and of improved application by players when at the crease. Having a player within the team who enjoys being an anchor for the innings has, of course, been a big bonus for the Glenparkers and overseas amateur Damon Rootes has provided such a quality, and with considerable aplomb, this season.

Rootes has scored well in the weekend matches and, very importantly, has nurtured numerous very significant partnerships as the Greenock team have chased down good sized totals. Good examples are 115 with Louis Ware to help win against Stirling County when chasing 221 in the Scottish Cup two weeks ago, and 96 with Chris Hempsey as the team overtook West of Scotland's 189 total last weekend.

But Rootes apart, various Greenock batsmen have been able to score well in the matches played this season. Neil Flack and Phil McIntosh have both got off to good starts to their innings on a number of occasions and will make big individual scores at some point. While Chris Hempsey, Louis Ware, Shailesh Prabhu and Sehmat Pandher have each demonstrated that they can compile significant runs.

Fielding and bowling have also been much improved this season. Greenock have a young, generally quite athletic side, and, along with a varied bowling attack, have been able to contain a number of powerful batting sides.

Aussie amateur Declan White's pace has been too rapid for numerous opponents and he has been a consistently fine performer with the ball gaining five wickets for 29 runs against Irvine. Neil Flack too has grown into being a very useful change bowler for Greenock. His off spin has proven to be a very useful option for the team and last Saturday he too picked up a five wicket haul against West of Scotland.

Given that the Glenpark side is able to put in another good all round performance this Saturday at the Kingholm in Dumfries, the fixture should provide a fifth straight win for Greenock and the match-winning momentum should be maintained.

The team for the match, which will start at the usual time of 12 noon, is unchanged from that which defeated West of Scotland last Saturday.

The Glenpark XI, after a good winning run, came a cropper last Saturday at Hamilton Crescent. They will not want a repeat of that performance when they take on Kingholm at Glenpark on Saturday but they will need to be at their best for opponents who have had some useful results this season in amongst some lesser performances. This match will start at 12 noon.

On Sunday, the 1st XI travel to Shawholm to play Poloc in the WU40 Trophy. This is a 2nd round match of the competition, which was postponed from a few weeks ago, and interestingly brings together the top two sides in Division One. Poloc are the only side to whom Greenock have lost in 50 over cricket this season, and Sunday's cup-tie will provide an opportunity for the Glenparkers to gain revenge for that earlier loss and set down a marker for the rest of the season. The team for this match, which will start at 1pm, shows two changes from Saturday's selection with Harry Briggs and Chirag Pandher replacing the unavailable Phil McIntosh and Shailesh Prabhu.

The Hillend XI have no fixture this weekend.

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