Greenock start season with comfortable win

Greenock 1st XI vs Hillhead
Saturday 16th April 2016

Greenock 1st XI 158 LPJ Ware 54; P Khan 4 for 9
Hillhead 89 P Khan 34; ND Flack 4 for 11


Greenock began the 2016 cricket season with a comfortable win over Glasgow side Hillhead by the margin of 69 runs at a sunny, but cold, Glenpark on Saturday afternoon.

The local side played a mix of players who will form their 1st and 2nd XIs over the summer months in this fixture, and the match provided an opportunity get in some useful on-field practice after the long winter layoff.

Greenock batted first and made a decent start with openers Neil Flack and Chris Hempsey putting on 24 runs before the latter was bowled by Iqbal in the seventh over of play. Louis Ware and Flack, two of Greenock's talented teenagers, then took the score along to just over fifty in the fifteenth over at which time Flack was caught by Murray off the bowling of Jackson for 19 runs. And just two runs later 16 year old Harry Briggs was adjudged LBW to Mehmood's bowling.

A fine partnership of over fifty runs between Ware and 19 year old overseas player Declan White, who arrived in Greenock just 48 hours earlier after a long flight from Australia, took the local side past the hundred runs mark and looked to have set the team up for a high score. However, a sharp piece of fielding, and some mis-communication between the two batsmen, led to White being run out for 15 with the score on 108, just at a time when he looked set for a long innings.

Louis Ware continued to bat well and completed his first fifty of the season before being dismissed LBW to Khan for 54 in the 32nd of the 40 overs a side match, and with Greenock in the very useful position of 136 for 5 with eight overs of their innings remaining.

What followed, however, was a sudden fall of wickets as the Glenparkers lost another four quick wickets for the addition of just two runs before Greg McDougall and another of Greenock's teenagers, 16 year old Ewan Stewart, put together a final wicket partnership of nineteen runs before McDougall (11) was stumped by wicketkeeper Fergus from the bowling of Khan in the penultimate over, leaving Stewart unbeaten on 5 not out.

Khan with 4 wickets for 9 runs from 7.2 overs bowled was Hillhead's top bowler.

Following the tea interval, Hillhead struggled to get their innings going against Greenock's opening two bowlers Declan White and Louis Ware. The express pace of Aussie amateur White saw his opening five over spell yield just two runs and he picked up his first wicket in Scotland when he clean bowled Hillhead opener Fergus in the seventh over of play.

Hillhead's progress continued to be slow and at the mid-point of their 40 over innings had reached just 37 runs for the loss of 2 wickets.

Greenock used a variety of bowlers as they sought to get rid of opening batsman Khan who was the mainstay of the Hughenden side's run scoring, and with the score on 68 in the 27th over young Ewan Stewart made the breakthrough in his first over, when he bowled Khan, who had contributed 34 runs to his team's total.

Khan's demise signalled a steady fall of wickets in the overs which followed and the remaining Hillhead wickets were captured by the Greenock bowlers for the addition of just fewer than twenty more runs to the total.

Greenock used nine bowlers in this pre-season friendly, with Neil Flack gaining most success and returning very encouraging early season form with figures of 4 wickets for just 11 runs from 8 overs bowled. Ewan Stewart picked up 2 wickets for 11 runs from 3 overs while Aussie Declan White bowled 7 overs with 1 wicket for the loss of just 3 runs.

So a useful run out for Greenock and a positive opening match win, but the issue of the middle order fall of wickets is one which the Glenparkers will look to address.

Sunday should have seen a further friendly at Glenpark against Kelburne but this was called off by the Paisley side a couple of weeks ago as they felt the competing attraction of an Old Firm Cup semi-final would hold sway. So, next up are two more pre-season friendly matches next weekend at Glenpark with Premiership side Drumpellier the opposition on Saturday and Inverclyde providing a local 'derby' on Sunday.