Greenock fall to disappointing defeat by Renfrew

Greenock 1st XI vs Renfrew
WDCU CSL First Division
Saturday 6th August 2016

Renfrew 136 for 8 A Said 54*, Q Khan 33; JPC Hempsey 4 for 23
Greenock 1st XI 83 DB Rootes 38; A Amir 4 for 15

(Greenock set 127 to win in 33 overs by the D/L method)


Greenock let slip the chance to once again top the WDCU CSL First Division table when they lost to Renfrew at Glenpark on a day when the league leaders Poloc also lost to third placed West of Scotland. These two results throw the promotion race to the Premier Division wide open with just three more weekends of the season remaining.

Renfrew arrived at Glenpark occupying third bottom position of the league table and having won just four matches in the competition during the summer. It was a match which Greenock were favourites to win but which turned out badly for the locals.

Renfrew won the toss, and with rain in the forecast and so the possibility of interruptions and therefore the Duckworth Lewis (D/L) system having a role in the outcome of the match, perhaps surprisingly, opted to bat.

Greenock gained two wickets within the first seven overs to gain some very early momentum in the match. Firstly, in the fifth over of play, Declan White's pace proved too much for Irfan Nawaz who attempted to hook a short, fast delivery only to mis-time his shot and present a catch to Neil Flack moving backwards at square leg.

Then two overs later, a mix up between Qasim Khan and David Graham led the latter to being run out by Neil Flack whose throw made a direct hit on the stumps to leave the visitors' score on ten runs for the loss of two wickets.

Khan was joined by Renfrew professional and team captain Ahmed Said and the two then proceeded to build a sound partnership, although Greenock were denied a very confident appeal for caught behind when Said was on just ten.

The two batsmen had taken the score along to 82 as the mid-point of the visitors 50 overs innings approached when Khan was adjudged to be leg before wicket (LBW) to Neil Flack having scored 33.

The loss of Khan was a blow to Renfrew, but professional Said, along with new batsman Ali Naseer Ahmed, kept up a scoring rate of three runs per over after the drinks break until Ahmed (13) was out caught by Sehmat Pandher at mid off as he tried to hit Neil Flack to the boundary via an aerial route. This put the visitors on 110 for the loss of 4 wickets at the end of the 35th over.

The match changed dramatically in the very next over as Jonathan Hempsey picked up three wickets and Renfrew were suddenly seven wickets down and in some trouble. A further wicket from Hempsey just two overs later put Greenock well on top with Renfrew having progressed to just 120 for the loss of 8 wickets at the end of the 40th over.

Renfrew professional Said, and the experienced Parvase Majeed, added a further fifteen runs as rain began to fall, and, at the end of the 43rd over, play was suspended as the rainfall became torrential and the covers were quickly brought on to protect the wicket.

An early tea break was taken to try to minimise the interruption by the rain when play was suspended at 2.46pm, but the rain persisted and it was over two hours later at 4.55pm when play was able to resume.

The umpires indicated that the Duckworth Lewis (D/L) system required to be introduced. Renfrew's innings had been closed on 136 for the loss of 8 wickets and Greenock were set a revised target of 127 from just 33 overs.

Ahmed Said was not out 54 for Renfrew, while Jonathan Hempsey was Greenock's top bowler with 4 wickets for 23 runs from his 10 overs.

The long delay meant the momentum of the match had been lost and Greenock needed to get themselves organised to bat knowing the overs available to them had been significantly curtailed.

And the locals' plans for the run chase got off to a very poor start when firstly Neil Flack, a century maker just a week ago, was bowled without scoring in the fourth over. Then Harry Briggs, who was looking in good form, and had scored two fine boundaries, was needlessly run out in a terrible mix up with Damon Rootes, to leave Greenock two wickets down with just eleven runs on the board after five overs.

Rootes was joined by Chris Hempsey and the two built a sound partnership but were unable to keep up with the required rate of around four runs per over. This eventually put some pressure on the side, and when Hempsey was bowled by Imran Malik for 17 in the 20th over, Greenock were on just 52 and still required 75 runs from 13 overs.

The rate had risen to almost six runs per over, but with seven wickets still remaining the task was still well within Greenock's reach if the team could bat well. Unfortunately that did not happen, as the pressure to score at a run a ball took its toll and wickets tumbled as the Glenpark players played poor shots in their efforts to put runs on the board. When Rootes was run out for 38, Greenock's task was almost impossible.

The end came in the 28th over when Ali Naseer Ahmed bowled Greenock's last man Chirag Pandher with the home total way short of the target on 83. Asad Amir with 4 wickets for 15 runs was the Renfrew bowler who took advantage as the middle order and tail-end batsmen were unable to navigate their way to the target.

The results of the Greenock match at Glenpark, and the Poloc game against West of Scotland at Shawholm, leave the league positions as they were at the start of the day. Poloc remain top, with Greenock in second position and West in third, but the percentage points separating the three teams now has been so reduced that any one of the three teams could win the league and any two from three could be promoted. Less than four percentage points lie between Poloc at the top and West of Scotland in third place with Greenock now just one percent above West.

Next weekend's clash between Greenock and West of Scotland at Hamilton Crescent now takes on a huge importance and is one which Greenock simply must win.