Greenock make winning start to league campaign

Greenock 1st XI vs Weirs
WDCU CSL First Division
Saturday 30th April 2016

Weirs 135 I Syed 71; PC McIntosh 4 for 16
Greenock 1st XI 137 for 2 ND Flack 52*, CJK Hempsey 38*


Greenock made a fine winning start to their 2016 league campaign at Glenpark on Saturday by defeating Glasgow southsiders Weirs by a very commanding eight wicket margin.

On another sunny, but almost typically cool end of April afternoon, Greenock gained the toss advantage when Weirs skipper Irfan Shah called wrongly and home captain Jonathan Hempsey had little hesitation in inviting the visitors to bat first.

Greenock's opening attack, Aussie pace bowler Declan White and 16 year old Scotland age group cap Louis Ware, proved difficult for Weirs' top order batsmen to score off the bat but a number of wayward deliveries from Ware allowed the score to at least tick along in the first few overs. But a change by home skipper Hempsey at the start of the sixth over brought an immediate breakthrough when new bowler Phil McIntosh had Mohammed Taqi (6) caught behind by wicketkeeper Chris Hempsey.

The visitors' number three batsman, Amir Kanwar, lasted only a few minutes before White claimed his first league wicket in Scotland, when an edged shot ended up safely in the gloves of wicketkeeper Chris Hempsey. McIntosh then picked up the wicket of opener Mohammed Akram, who was bowled having scored just four runs, to leave the visitors in some trouble at 21 runs for the loss of 3 wickets after 8 overs of the innings.

Weirs' skipper Irfan Shah and Imran Syed gradually got the Glasgow side into the game, but with quite slow progress. As the half way mark of the 50 over innings approached, Weirs had only moved their total onto 49 after 22 overs. Shah, who had played a pretty dogged innings and scored just 6 runs, was then caught by Declan White as he tried to hit off spinner Neil Flack to the boundary.

The Albert Park side then seemed to change tactics and adopted a more aggressive approach to their run scoring, and it paid dividends as Syed and his new batting partner, Zeeshan Qamar, added almost fifty runs in just nine overs. Syed, in particular, took charge of the run scoring and their partnership was looking quite dangerous until Qamar was very smartly run out having scored 15 runs with the total on 97 in the 31st over.

New batsman Sherali Afzal did not trouble the scorers and was quickly back in the clubhouse, LBW to Greg McDougall. But then, another useful partnership of thirty two runs from Syed and Richard 'Siggy' Young took Weirs to 132 in the 40th over and into a decent position to accelerate their team total in the final ten overs of their innings. However, two fine catches then changed the course of the match.

Firstly, wicketkeeper Chris Hempsey took a great one-handed diving catch down the leg side to dismiss danger man Syed for 71 off the bowling of Phil McIntosh, who had just returned for a second bowling spell. Then, with no further addition to the score, Young sent a towering shot towards the bottom wall at Glenpark off the bowling of Neil Flack, only for Sam Sanghera to take a brilliant running catch close to the boundary rope. 132 for 8 in the 41st over.

Greenock skipper Jonathan Hempsey then brought Declan White back into the attack to join McIntosh, and these two quickly cleaned up the Weirs' tail-enders with Sajad Ali bowled by McIntosh and Majeed Abdul bowled by White to leave the visitors 135 all out in the 45th over.

Phil McIntosh with 4 wickets for 16 runs from 10 overs was Greenock's top bowler with Declan White 2 for 20 from 9.2 overs, Neil Flack 2 for 29 from 10 overs and Greg McDougall 1 for 17 from 4 overs, the other wicket-takers.

The WDCU umpires invoked a rarely used rule during the Weirs innings by penalising the visitors' batsmen for persistently running down the middle of the wicket, despite having been warned more than once not to do so. This led to a four run boundary being cancelled and the Greenock innings starting with five runs already on the scoreboard.

After the tea interval, Greenock made what appeared to be a comfortable start to their innings, but in the third over with the score on 15, Phil McIntosh was adjudged LBW to the bowling of Irfan Shah. Shailesh Prabhu and Neil Flack then took the home score to 46 before Prabhu (8) was caught by Akram at mid off from the bowling of Afzal.

Flack continued to score quite freely and showed a maturity of approach to his batting which undoubtedly has developed from his experience as Scotland U19 captain and participation in the recent U19 Cricket World Cup in Bangladesh. And, with new batsman Chris Hempsey also batting with positive, good judgement of the opposition bowling, the two Greenock players guided the home team to a very comfortable and commanding win, with Hempsey scoring the winning runs via a boundary in just the 30th over of the innings.

Flack was unbeaten on 52 and Hempsey 38 not out as Greenock passed the visitors total to finish on 137 for the loss of just two wickets.

Saturday's match against Weirs was kindly sponsored by Clyde Carriers Removals.