Greenock aim to clinch promotion at Hillhead


Greenock play their last league match of the season on Saturday when they travel to Glasgow's West End for their final fixture against Hillhead at Hughenden. It is a match which should confirm the Glenpark side's promotion to the Premier Division within the Western District Cricket Union, and a return to the top level of cricket in the west of Scotland.

Two points out of a possible twenty five available from the match will ensure promotion, but Greenock will be keen to take full points and end the 2016 season with a win over Hillhead, who are firmly rooted at the bottom of the league table.

The team has performed consistently well throughout the season and fully deserves to find itself on the verge of a return to Premier Division cricket. And one last good performance will enable Glenpark supporters to celebrate come Saturday evening.

When the sides met at Glenpark towards the end of June, Greenock completely outplayed Hillhead and won by nine wickets. The Glasgow side were bowled out for the lowly total of 88 runs and in reply Greenock were 89 for the loss of only one wicket, with the runs scored in just 10.4 overs.

And that has not been Hillhead's only low score this season. On seven occasions they have scored less than 120 runs in an innings, and in their most recent two league matches have failed to make 80.

But Hillhead have various players who on the day could cause problems. Paul Bartlett scored 89 against Irvine and 54 against Poloc earlier in the season and New Zealander Ketan Patel has also had a few good scores.

In their bowling line-up, Shehroz Mehmood and Naeem Iqbal are their regular opening attack with Atif Ahmed and Lalin Jabarsen often following as change bowlers. The latter two, have had some success in recent matches and Greenock would do well to ensure that they are watched carefully when introduced into play on Saturday. And then there is Imran Adrees who has the experience and guile to get wickets for the side, but he has only appeared on a few occasions for Hillhead this season and may not play at the weekend.

Since the match at Glenpark at the end of June, the Hughenden side has failed to record a single win in the league and seem doomed to relegation. And Greenock are unlikely to be in any philanthropic mood to throw them a lifeline. The Glenpark team is focused on what needs to be done on Saturday and have the players to do the job.

Australian amateur, Declan White, will open the bowling for Greenock and his pace and the bounce from the Hughenden wicket will present problems for the Hillhead openers. Jonathan Hempsey too has been in fine bowling form in recent matches and may well add to the wickets collected in the last few weeks.

A further useful option is the slow bowling of Neil Flack and Damon Rootes which has picked up a significant numbers of wickets and then there are Greg McDougall, Louis Ware and Phil McIntosh who are all capable of doing damage to opponents' batting.

So Greenock has plenty of bowling to break through the Hillhead batting line-up which has so often been brittle during this summer's league campaign.

Scoring runs for Greenock, however, has been an altogether more positive experience and centuries have been scored by both Neil Flack and Damon Rootes. These two young batsmen have had a generally good season and the Glenpark side will look to them to finish with more runs on Saturday.

But Greenock do not rely on just these two batsmen. A strength of the team this season, has been the ability of numerous players to contribute runs, and it has been such an ability which has brought the team to the very brink of promotion.

Middle order batsmen such as Chris Hempsey, Shailesh Prabhu, Louis Ware, Declan White and Phil McIntosh have all had very useful and important innings during the season and indeed even lower down the order Greenock have players who are well capable of contributing to the side's score.

For this last match of the season, Harry Briggs is unavailable and, as a result, Shailesh Prabhu will possibly revert to open the innings along with Neil Flack. Back into the side comes Sehmat Pandher who will bat in the lower middle order and be an important fielder for the team.

Come Saturday evening, the Greenock team and supporters should be celebrating the team's return to top level cricket in the west of Scotland....but first there is a job to be done in Glasgow. It is a job that few would bet against them achieving.

The Greenock selection will surely not miss this golden opportunity to clinch promotion in their final game of the season, which will start at the usual time of 12 noon.

The Glenpark XI play their last game of the season at Glenpark on Saturday when Hughenden provide the opposition in the Reserve League in a match which starts at 12 noon. It has been a mixed season for the Glenparkers but there have been some pleasing performances by some of the younger players which bodes well for the future.

The Hillend XI have had an extremely fractured season but they will attempt to play their last game of the season on Sunday when they travel to East Kilbride to play a Sunday League match, starting at 1pm.

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