Greenock face another busy weekend


This Saturday, Greenock travel to Glasgow as the WDCU First Division league leaders and will be very keen to maintain that position with a win over bottom placed side Weirs.

With half of this year's league programme now complete, Greenock are on target for a return to the Premier Division, but know that the games which lie ahead in the second half of the season will hold many challenges.

The match with Weirs at their Albert Park ground in Cathcart in the south side of the city is the first of these challenges, and, on the face of it, should be a straightforward task. The Glasgow club have had a very poor season, winning just one of their nine league matches to date, and that was against second bottom Hillhead.

But Greenock will not take this match lightly. Only a top all round team performance will be acceptable, and the team will be going all out to put in a similar performance to the last couple of weeks when both St Michael's and Hillhead have been bowled out for under ninety runs.

A strength of this year's team has been its settled nature, and indeed over the last three Saturdays, the same team has taken to the field. However, July is the start of the holiday season and this week Greenock will be without three of the regular side. Out are Shailesh Prabhu, Chris Hempsey and Sam Sanghera.

Their replacements for the Weirs match have first team experience and have been playing well in the Greenock 2nd XI side. The net effect therefore should be minimal and the Glenparkers will continue to be very optimistic about Saturday's outcome.

The strong bowling attack which the Greenock side has is unaffected, with Declan White and Phil McIntosh likely to lead the line and with Jonathan Hempsey, Neil Flack, Greg McDougall and Louis Ware all still available.

Only once in the league has a team managed to score over two hundred runs against Greenock, and that was second placed Poloc early in the season in the match which was Greenock's one and only loss so far. And only once have Greenock failed to bowl out the opposition, which was when West of Scotland managed 189 for 9 in their innings in June when Greenock still ran out winners scoring 191 for 7 in reply.

Neil Flack has developed into a very useful off spin bowler and has picked up 26 wickets from the eight matches played so far. He is the leading wicket-taker for the Glenpark team in league competition. Pace bowler Declan White has 18 league wickets to his name and has been the most economical of the Greenock attack.

Interestingly, Greenock have bowled first in all eight league matches which have been completed, and, with the exception of the Poloc game, have chased down the opposition scores, demonstrating a strength in depth in their batting line-up on occasions when the lower order have been required.

Neil Flack, Phil McIntosh, Damon Rootes and Chris Hempsey have been the regular top four batsmen and each has shown good form in the first half of the season. Rootes, in particular, has been a consistent, solid performer and on league business, since his arrival in early May, his average is 83.3 runs per game.

Weirs, however, are a side in deep trouble, stuck at the bottom of the league table. Four times in the league matches played, they have been bowled out for under 90 runs, which suggests a brittle batting order. And even last Saturday when they scored their highest total of the season, 198 for 9 against Renfrew, the Glasgow southsiders still lost.

In the league match between the two teams at Glenpark on the last Saturday in April, Greenock recorded a comfortable eight wicket win. Weirs batted first and scored 135 but only two batsmen managed double figures with Imran Syed 71 the mainstay of the innings. For Greenock, Phil McIntosh was in fine form with the ball and returned figures of 4 wickets for 16 runs from 10 overs. In the run chase Neil Flack was not out 52 and Chris Hempsey not out 38.

Greenock will be keen to record a similar sort of result when the teams meet at Albert Park on Saturday with a win meaning that the Glenpark side will remain top of the table.

The team for the match, which will start at the usual time of 12 noon, shows three changes from the usual side with Harry Briggs, Rod Mountford and Chirag andher replacing the holidaying Chris Hempsey, Shailesh Prabhu and Sam Sanghera.

The Glenpark XI secured anothe fine victory last Saturday and now sit in 5th position in the Reserve League. They will look to build on that position when they play Albert Park on Saturday at Glenpark, something which should certainly not be beyond them. This match will start at 12 noon.

On Sunday, the 1st XI turn their attention back to the Citylets Scottish Cup and the Quarter Final tie at Glenpark against top Edinburgh side, Carlton, which could not be played last Sunday. The week's delay has done Greenock no good with the selected team shoing 5 changes from the usual eleven. The team for this match, which will start at 12 noon, shows a further two changes from Saturday's selection with Kevin Flack and Tom Forrest coming into the side for the unvailable Phil McIntosh and Chirag Pandher.

The Hillend XI have no game this week.

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