Greenock's unhappy return to Glenpark

Greenock 1st XI vs East Kilbride
WDCU CSL Premier Division
Saturday 8th July 2017

East Kilbride 210 for 9 P Coetzee 65*, S Sajjad 61; KG Scrimegour 3 for 56
Greenock 1st XI 197 for 9 KG Scrimegour 61, SS Pandher 37


Greenock played their first game at Glenpark since 7th June but it was not a happy homecoming as East Kilbride ran out victorious by 13 runs.

The East Kilbride skipper, Josh Johnston, called correctly at the toss and decided to bat first. He would have initially wondered if he had made the right decision as the pitch offered some assistance to the Greenock bowlers for the first fifteen overs or so. Julian Hulbert made the first breakthrough when he had East Kilbride's opener, Jack Clark, caught by Harry Briggs with the last ball of the first over without scoring.

Neil Flack at the other end was proving to be difficult to get away and in his fourth over, he bowled the other opener, Stewart Kampman and East Kilbride were 17 for 2. Saif Sajjad and Adil Hussain came together but found the going hard and when Hussain was trapped in front by Hulbert for just 4, the total was now just 35 and 19 overs had gone.

Hulbert had by now completed his 10 overs allocation, having taken 2 for 29. Neil Flack had come off after 6 overs, having conceded just 3 runs and East Kilbride were struggling. Jonathan Hempsey and Kyle Scrimegour continued to bowl tightly but South African Petrus Coetzee had joined Sajjad at the crease and the two of them buckled down to the task.

The two batsmen scored slowly but crucially they kept their wickets intact. Sajjad reached his fifty and moved on to 61 before he finally fell, leg before to Scrimegour in the 40th over. The score was just 134 but his partnership of 99 with Coetzee gave East Kilbride a platform to allow them a chance of setting a competitive total.

Greenock's fielding was not as sharp as it has been in previous games and their bowling now also became somewhat ragged. East Kilbride took full advantage of this. They moved on to 168 for 7 in the 45th over, with Greg McDougall claiming two leg before decisions and Jonathan Hempsey getting Smith stumped by his brother Chris. Greenock would have been hopeful of wrapping up the East Kilbride innings cheaply but it was not to be.

The eighth wicket partnrship of Coetzee and Mohammed Khan put on 30 in just three overs as they took full advantage of loose play by Greenock and when the innings closed East Kilbride had moved on to 210 for 9, a substantial improvement from where they had been halfway through their innings. Coetzee finished undefeated on 65, a fine knock for his team in the circumstances.

For Greenock, Kyle Scrimegour claimed 3 wickets, but he was more expensive than in previous weeks, conceding 56 runs. Hulbert and McDougall both claimed a couple of wickets and Jonathan Hempsey and Neil Flack with one apiece were the other wicket-takers.

Greenock set off on their pursuit of a total which was eminently gettable on a wicket that had evened out but they made the worst possible start, losing Neil Flack for nothing in the first over, leg before to Khan. Harry Briggs and Kyle Scrimegour came together but they found it difficult to get on top of the bowling. Briggs was next to go when he was caught and bowled by Kampman for 13 with the total on 54. However, this was in the 22nd over and Greenock were getting behind the asking rate.

Johnston and Kampman were keeping a tight hold on the Greenock batting and the former had Louis Ware caught by the latter for 4. 72 for 3 in the 29th over. Sehmat Pandher came in next and he and Kyle Scrimegour tried to get the scoreboard moving but they did not find it any easier.

Coetzee and Clark took over the attack and although Coetzee proved to be a little expensive he claimed the key wicket of Scrimegour, caught by Kampman for 61 with the total on 120 in the 38th over. Just over 12 overs to go and 91 runs were needed. Chris Hempsey did not last long, run out for 4 and the target got further and further away.

Pandher was next to fall, caught by Meikle off Clark for 37 with the score on 146. Shailesh Prabhu, who had been hit on the face while fielding, an injury which would require stitches, and Julian Hulbert did their best to accelerate but they were unable to provide the impetus that Coetzee and Khan had achieved from a similar position in the first innings. It is always easier to do that when batting first.

Prabhu fell at 171, bowled by Coetzee for 19 with just over 4 overs to go. Hulbert made 26 and Jonathan Hempsey 8 before Greenock finished on 197 for 9, 13 runs short of a win which would have seen them virtually cement their place in the Premier Division.

For East Kilbride, this was very much a must-win game, if they were to keep alive their hopes of avoiding relegation, and this was evident in their play. They fielded better than Greenock, their bowling was tighter and in the end nobody could begrudge them their win.

Greenock will reflect on a missed opportunity. Were they complacent after the win the previous week at Uddingston? That might be a little harsh but there was no doubt that they were just not sharp enough on the day. In the Premier Division, you cannot just turn up and expect to win. Hopefully, Greenock will have learned that lesson.

Next week, Greenock are away to Poloc, who are on a good little run at the moment, and they will certainly need to up their game if they want to get something out of that match.