Greenock come so close to defeating Ayr

Ayr vs Greenock 1st XI
WDCU CSL Premier Division
Saturday 29th July 2017

Ayr 237 for 9 M Crawshaw 75*, MHW Papps 43, A McElnea 34; GJ McDougall 3 for 61
Greenock 1st XI 165 for 6 HR Briggs 55, ND Flack 49

DLS Par Score 171 in 34.4 overs


Greenock came close to gaining a winning double this season over Premier Division title contenders Ayr when the teams met at New Cambusdoon on Saturday. However, with rain intervening, the Glenpark side came up just six runs short when the Duckworth Lewis Stern (DLS) calculation was made when the match was eventually abandoned.

For two thirds of the match, the contest was played in pleasant sunshine, but after exactly 25 overs of Greenock's innings, rain arrived and a lengthy interruption left the Glenparkers who were on 85 for 3 needing to reach 189 from the amended total of 37 overs (DLS). For ease of understanding, that meant Greenock needed to score 104 runs from just 12 overs ... if the game was able to go the full distance to the 37th over.

In the event, play was finally halted after 34.4 overs when a second period of torrential rain arrived, with the DLS system indicating that at that point, with Greenock on 165 for 6, the required total was 171, and so just six runs short.

At the start of play at noon, Ayr batted and opened with New Zealand international test player Michael Papps and Neil Smith at the top of their order. The partnership put on 48 runs before Smith was run out for 29 due to a piece of sharp fielding by Sehmat Pandher.

Papps was joined by Andy McElnea and the score moved along steadily until the New Zealander was lured into pulling a fast, short ball from Kyle Scrimegour and his shot went straight to Shailesh Prabhu who took a good catch to dismiss him for 43 with the score on 104 in the 28th over.

Greenock then began to get on top of the Ayr batsmen and in the next ten overs had picked up another three wickets including McElnea for 34 to reduce the home side to 139 for 5. A further two wickets were captured by the 44th over and Ayr were looking vulnerable on 158 with just six overs remaining.

But then Matt Crawshaw, Ayr's young overseas amateur from Australia, threw caution to the wind and almost single-handedly ravaged Greenock's bowlers in those last few overs. Seventy nine runs were added as Crawshaw bludgeoned ball after ball, riding his luck as he did so, to turn the game and put Ayr in a commanding position on 237 for the loss of 9 wickets at the close of their 50 over innings. Crawshaw was unbeaten on 75.

Greg McDougall with 3 for 61 from 10 overs and Kyle Scrimegour 2 for 54 from 10 overs were Greenock's top wicket-takers. Both had their analyses severely dented when they came back for second spells of bowling as the Ayr innings approached its end. Crawshaw went on the rampage during these last six overs, and both bowlers who had earlier been largely responsible for getting Greenock into a very useful match position, suffered significantly.

After the tea interval, as had been predicted, Greenock made changes to their recent batting line-up, choosing to open with the experienced Shailesh Prabhu and teenager Harry Briggs, with Kyle Scrimegour at number three in the batting order. The tactic worked well and after eighteen overs Greenock were placed quite comfortably on 64 for the loss of just Prabhu (10) who was caught by Papps at slip having had to fend off a fast, rapidly rising ball from Scott McElnea.

But it was then that the second wicket partnership which had been blossoming well came to an end. Briggs, in particular, was in good form and scoring well and Scrimegour was beginning to play some fine shots. But when Scrimegour pulled a short ball from Neil Smith mid way through the nineteenth over it was not well directed and he was caught at square leg by Khan for 14.

Greenock lost a third wicket when young Louis Ware was adjudged LBW in the 23 over and that brought Neil Flack out to the middle to join Briggs. Just two overs later as drinks were taken at the mid point of the innings, a short downpour of heavy rain led to a suspension of play with Greenock on 85 for the loss of 3 wickets.

When play resumed almost an hour later, the Duckworth Lewis Stern system indicated that due to the time lost (53 minutes was the stoppage) only twelve overs of play remained and Greenock's revised total to chase was 189 runs to win. This meant that the Glenparkers had to score at more than eight runs an over to win the match.

Briggs and Flack set about the run chase in some style displaying an array of fine shots which regularly reached the boundary and Greenock's score rose rapidly.

But with more rain very obviously close by and the Briggs-Flack partnership working hard to get up to the DLS before it arrived, Harry Briggs was bowled by Shuja Khan for an excellent 55 runs with Greenock on 143 in the 32nd over.

It was then up to Flack to keep the run-scoring momentum going, which he did until he was caught by Calum Leck for 49. However, the battling batting efforts by the Greenock players was all to no avail as the rains did arrive just after Flack's dismissal, leaving Greenock agonisingly just six runs short of the re-adjusted DLS target score.

Despite the loss, this was one of Greenock's best displays in the Premier Division this season and once again demonstrated that the team can compete very well with the top sides in the league. But the question now is will Greenock survive? Can the side keep out of the bottom two places which are the relegation spots?

With just four matches remaining, Greenock are still just seven percentage points above second bottom East Kilbride, and a little under four percentage points behind next Saturday's opponents Dumfries. So, all is set for a hugely important match when Greenock play Dumfries at Glenpark this coming Saturday.