Greenock grab exciting win over Stirling

Greenock 1st XI vs Stirling County
WDCU CSL First Division
Saturday 23rd July 2016

Stirling County 182 for 8 M Tweedie 43, T Bradburn 39; ND Flack 4 for 28, DOD White 3 for 34
Greenock 1st XI 184 for 9 DOD White 44*, SS Pandher 40; A Mubarak 5 for 37


Greenock's push for promotion was kept on track at Glenpark on Saturday....but only just.... as the Glenpark side won by the most slender of margins in a real cliffhanger of a finish against fourth placed Stirling County. In a match which ebbed and flowed throughout the afternoon, Greenock eventually emerged as victors, with their final two batsmen at the crease grinding out the last twenty runs needed. It was hard luck on Stirling who were themselves, all the while, just one good ball away from winning.

Stirling batted first and had fourteen runs on the board in the fifth over when opening batsman Graeme Taylor was bowled by Declan White with what umpire Frank Johnstone described as, "the best ball I have seen this season. It was on middle, swung a little, hit the seam and nicked the top of off stump. Just about unplayable". Taylor had scored just four runs.

Six overs later and with the score having moved along to 33, White gained a second wicket, this time trapping Gavin Anderson LBW for 9.

But it was to be another twenty seven overs before Greenock would get their next success, as Matthew Tweedie and Tom Bradburn put together an impressive third wicket partnership of 92 runs before Tweedie was given out LBW to Phil McIntosh having scored 43 runs. 125 for 3 in the 38th over.

It was a hugely important breakthrough for Greenock as Stirling were well positioned to set a very high total. But as so often happens, one wicket brings one or more quick wickets. So it was on Saturday, as Tom Bradburn was returned to the clubhouse in the 39th over, caught by wicketkeeper Chris Hempsey for 39 runs off the bowling of Neil Flack. Then, New Zealand amateur Kevin Loggenberg was bowled by Flack for just 2 runs in the 41st over. Score 137 for 5 wickets.

A forty one run sixth wicket partnership from Jack Bradburn and Aamir Samaii swayed things once more in Stirling's favour, but the pendulum swung back in Greenock's favour when Neil Flack had Bradburn caught by Phil McIntosh for 29 and then, with the very next ball, had Samaii dismissed in identical fashion for 14.

Declan White, back in the attack as the innings drew to a close, picked up his third wicket of the day when he clean bowled Ross Macgarvie in the final over, which left Stirling's innings completed on 182 for the loss of 8 wickets at the tea interval.

Neil Flack was Greenock's top wicket-taker with 4 for 28 from 14 overs, with Declan White 3 for 34 from 10 overs and Phil McIntosh 1 wicket for 34 from 10 overs, the other bowlers who got wickets.

To say that Greenock's innings was a very strange mixture would be to seriously understate what took place following the tea break.

After just two overs, the scoreboard showed the Glenpark side on 19 runs without loss. After just four balls of the third over, the scoreboard displayed Greenock's score as still 19 runs, but with 3 wickets down. Ali Mubarak, Stirling's pacey opening bowler had dispatched Phil McIntosh, Damon Rootes and Chris Hempsey in three consecutive balls to gain a very fine 'hat-trick' and send shock waves through the Greenock batting line-up.

Neil Flack and Louis Ware set about repairing the damage and were just beginning to look as though they would go on to build a large partnership, when Flack was adjudged to have given the finest of nicks to a ball flashing down the leg side and was given out caught by wicket-keeper Taylor off the bowling of Mubarak for 18. It was still just the seventh over and Greenock's score was 51 for 4.

Louis Ware (12) and Shailesh Prabhu (13)were then dismissed to leave the Glenparkers in serious trouble on 66 for the loss of 6 wickets and the innings was still just eleven overs old.

Stirling were in total command at this point and Greenock looked in line for a real hammering. But then the game took another twist as Sehmat Pandher and Declan White settled in and over by over built a partnership which brought Greenock back into the game. Pandher was the aggressor in the partnership while White played a solid defensive role and the two added sixty three runs before Pandher was caught close to the boundary in front of the clubhouse having scored 40. There was a suspicion that the ball bowled by Aamir Samaii was a 'No Ball' as it appeared unduly high, coming in close to head height, but Pandher got no reprieve. 129 for 7 in the 26th over.

With plenty of overs remaining, Greenock needed another good partnership to take the game from Stirling. The maths indicated 54 runs from 23 overs. A very achievable target, but Greenock had just three wickets left.

Jonathan Hempsey, Greenock's captain, joined White out in the middle and the two batsmen gently nudged the score along to 158, and to within twenty five runs of a once unlikely win, when Stirling struck again with Kevin Loggenberg bowling Hempsey for 12.

With tension mounting, Greg McDougall was adjudged LBW to the bowling of Grant Anderson with the score on 163 for 9 leaving Greenock needing twenty runs to win and Stirling needing just one last wicket to return home with the 25 points.

The Glenpark team's last two batsmen, Declan White and Sam Sanghera, run by run took the total tantalisingly closer and closer to the target with everyone inside the ground...players, umpires and spectators....knowing that just one good ball or one poor shot would give Stirling the win.

However, having survived a few close things, Greenock's victory was achieved from the final ball of the forty fifth over when Sam Sanghera played a superb straight drive from Tom Bradburn's bowling and sent the ball racing all along the ground to the Fox Street boundary. It was a shot which signalled delight and relief from the sizeable Glenpark support.

For Stirling opening bowler Ali Mubarak, who picked up a 5 wicket haul including a 'hat-trick', it was a bitter sweet afternoon as his fine bowling in the end counted for nothing for his team.

Declan White played a match-winning innings of 44 not out for Greenock. He had gone in to bat with his team staring defeat at 66 for 6 but patiently kept the visitors bowling at bay while also building a very fine innings. Having also taken 3 wickets for 34 from 10 overs during the Stirling innings Declan was rightly named 'Man of the Match.