Greenock look to keep winning run going at Irvine


Greenock travel down to North Ayrshire this Saturday for yet another important league fixture as their quest for promotion moves towards the final quarter of the season. Irvine are the Glenparkers' opponents, and a win at the Marress ground will take the local side one step nearer their goal of a return to the Premier Division.

Last Saturday's win against Stirling County at Glenpark was a huge victory, coming as it did from a seemingly hopeless position of 66 for the loss of 6 wickets chasing 183. The team showed a tremendous resilience in the lower middle order to get back into the game and then to gain the win. It was perhaps the defining moment of the season for the Glenpark side as it consolidated their second top spot in the league and maintained the gap of ten per cent above third placed West of Scotland. But, of course, there is still more to do before promotion becomes a reality.

Irvine, at their Marress ground close to the river, will be no easy pushover. The Ayrshire side are currently in a mid-table position with neither promotion nor relegation likely to feature as the season moves towards its conclusion. They do however possess a number of players who could present Greenock with a real challenge.

Irvine's batting is spearheaded by their long-serving coach, Sachin Chaudhary, a fine stroke-maker who has scored runs against Greenock in the past and indeed he was top scorer with 67 out of 175 when the teams met at Glenpark in May. He is surrounded by a number of robust strikers of the ball, such as Mahmood Alam, Abdul Ashraf and Gurupreet Singh, all of whom have been in the runs this season.

The Ayrshire team's bowling is not be overlooked either. Chaudhary is a canny and economical slow bowler and he gets good backing from the two Singhs, Gurupreet and Inderjit, and also Bhaumik Nayak.

When the teams met at Glenpark at the end of May there was little to choose between them regarding their league performances at that time. Both teams boasted an identical record of two wins and one defeat but the Ayrshire side had gained more bonus points in their defeat than Greenock, which meant that their points percentage was 78.67 to Greenock's 74.67.

Greenock ran out quite comfortable winners from the Glenpark encounter and since then have remained unbeaten, while Irvine have faltered recently losing each of their last three matches to Stirling County, West of Scotland and Renfrew.

The local side are playing with confidence and have a good variety in their bowling attack as well as having strength in depth in their batting. Declan White's pace as proved a problem for most teams while Neil Flack's off spin has been hugely successful in many matches.

The Glenpark side's batting line-up has a strength in depth and while the top order has regularly done well with Neil Flack and Damon Rootes in particular scoring significant runs, the middle order has come good when required with players such as Sehmat Pandher and Declan White, who both had forty plus last weekend, capable of important contributions.

Another good all round team performance should be enough to secure the points from the trip to Irvine, but it has danger written around it and will be a tricky hurdle to get past.

For Saturday's match, which starts, as usual, at 12 noon, there is a doubt from last weekend's side which defeated Stirling County. Sam Sanghera who hit the winning boundary has a back injury and may not be fit in time for the match. If that proves to be the case then into the side may come 17 year old Harry Briggs whose form for the 2nd XI with the bat in the last couple of weeks has been outstanding with a century against Glasgow Accies and 77 against Stirling County.

The Glenpark XI are at home on Saturday afternoon to Irvine 2nd XI and, having won a nail-biting match through at Stirling last Saturday, will be keen to gain another win against a team that is anchored near the foot of the Reserve table. This match will also start at 12 noon.

WU40 Cup

On Sunday afternoon, Greenock will try once again to play their Western Union 40 Cup quarter final match against Premier League leaders Clydesdale at Glenpark. Last weekend, the first attempt to play the match fell victim to the rain which has caused havoc for fixtures in this competition and both sides will be hoping for some dry weather to get the game played.

Progressing to the semi final of the competition will be a huge task for the Glenpark side as Clydesdale are currently, some would say, the top performing side in Scotland. The Glasgow side has an array of fine players including several Scottish international players of whom former Greenock star Richie Berrington is but one.

Berrington demonstrated his talent in midweek scoring 171 for Scotland 'A' against Gloucestershire at the county's Thornbury CC ground during which he had a partnership of 137 runs with his Clydesdale and Scotland teammate Con de Lange who made 77.

So Greenock will need to be at their best if a challenge to Clydesdale is to be successful. The reward for a win will be semi final tie away to either Drumpellier or Ferguslie.

Sunday's match, which is a 40 overs per side game, will start at 1pm.

The Hillend XI once again are without a game on Sunday as their home fixture with Hillhead in the Sunday league has been cancelled due to the WU40 Cup tie with Clydesdale.

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