Yet another important weekend for Greenock


Greenock face the prospect of two important matches at Glenpark this weekend when they take on table-topping Poloc on Saturday and high-flying Edinburgh side, Carlton, in the Citylets Scottish Cup on Sunday.

After last weekend's disappointing washout, the players will be only too keen to get back into action, irrespective of who the opposition is. The good weather of the first half of the season has been replaced by more typical Scottish summer days with no sign of a return to warm and dry conditions in the near future.

Poloc did manage to play last Saturday and their victory over Renfrew meant that they returned to the top of the WDCU First Division table, displacing Greenock in the process. So this Saturday's match takes on added importance with the winner grabbing a strong hold on first place and also assuming favouritism for promotion to the Premier Division. The losers will still be well-placed to go up but defeat will bring the chasing pack, headed by Irvine and West of Scotland, that bit closer, assuming, of course, that they win their games.

When the two teams met in early May, Greenock undoubtedly played their worst game of the season, losing by 93 runs after their batting had collapsed at one point to 27 for 8. Since then, they have won every league game, the majority in the most convincing fashion and as a result they will be eager to show Poloc that they are a far better side than they were at Shawholm.

Poloc are the youngest side in the league and have a number of really promising young players in their side, several of whom have gained representative honours. Their captain, Craig Young, is a heavy run-scorer and his wicket is always keenly prized and he also has the knack of taking crucial wickets as a change bowler. Their two young South Africans, Jurie Snyman and Con Van der Walt, have both made significant contributions and Greenock will look to capture their wickets as soon as possible. Other good bats in their team are Owais Shah and recent recruit from Kilmarnock, Muhammad Dar.

Bowling-wise, it was the combination of Adil Ghaffar and Ihtisham Malik which did the damage in the first game but there is plenty to back them up in the shape of the two South Africans and Young plus Aliyan Qureshi and Lewis James.

However, if Greenock are wary of this Poloc team, then their opponents should be equally concerned by Greenock's strengths. Declan White has proved to be a most potent opening bowler, with 18 league victims at an average of 11.72 demonstrating his prowess whilst Neil Flack has been the bowling revelation of the season, his off-spin garnering 26 wickets at an average of 8.88. Skipper Jonathan Hempsey has plenty of options to back these two up, with Phil McIntosh, Louis Ware, Greg McDougall and Damon Rootes, not forgetting himself of course, providing ample variations.

Damon Rootes has been the undoubted star of the batting to date, having scored 261 runs at an average of 87, and he has given stability to the top order, something which has been lacking in recent years. Neil Flack and Phil McIntosh have given the team several good starts, with the latter going for his shots from the first ball of his innings. There is plenty of batting to follow them, such as the Hempsey brothers, Louis Ware and Declan White. The one worry that Greenock might have is that many of Greenock's victories have been so emphatic that the middle order have had few opportunities to bat. Having said that, in the games against West of Scotland and Renfrew when they were called into action, they did respond with some significant and match-winning contributions.

Spectators should be treated to an absorbing contest on Saturday and it is bound to be keenly fought. It is unlikely to be a high-scoring match, given the recent weather which will have restricted the amount of work that groundsman Roger Hardie has been able to put in on the pitch but low-scoring encounters are often the most exciting to watch. The toss may well be crucial but having said all of that, on their home ground Greenock will fancy their chances of reversing May's result and putting themselves in prime position for promotion.

The team for the match, which starts at the usual time of 12 noon, is close to that which has featured in recent weeks with just Shailesh Prabhu unavailable. His place is taken by Rod Mountford. The full team is

This match is kindly sponsored by McTavish & Co, Accountants and Property Management

The Glenpark XI face a really tough encounter on Saturday when they travel to Glasgow to take on the Shawholm XI in the Reserve League. Their opponents are probably the strongest team in the Reserve League, which they lead with a 100% record, and easily overcame Glenpark earlier in the season by 10 wickets. This match will also start at 12 noon.

Scottish Cup

For the third time of asking, Carlton are due to come to Glenpark on Sunday for the quarter-final of the Citylets Scottish Cup. On the two previous occasions, no play was possible but with the semi-final matches due to be played on 17th July, a positive result is required this time. Cup rules do allow a game to be played up to the Wednesday prior to the next round but the logistics of organising a midweek fixture between clubs that are 75 miles apart are not simple and this may mean that a bowl-out will be required to establish a winner, should the weather prevent any play. Fingers crossed that this does not happen and that the winner is decided on the field.

Should play go ahead then Greenock will be facing one of the strongest sides in Scotland. But at least the delay in getting the game played has helped Greenock as they are now able to field a stronger side than that selected last week.

The game starts at 12 noon.

One unfortunate side-effect of this Scottish Cup saga is that the annual T20 festival between Hillend, Kilmacolm and Innellan, which was scheduled for this Sunday, has had to be cancelled.

This match is kindly sponsored by Flower Vogue

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