Greenock look to bounce back


Greenock are once again on their travels for this Saturday's Premier Division match against West of Scotland following last weekend's trip to Ayr. But this time it is a comparatively short journey upriver to Glasgow for the match at the historic Hamilton Crescent ground in the Partick area of the city.

This is a match which Greenock will be very keen to win. No points were gained last week at Ayr, so a victory on Saturday, and 25 points, should propel the Glenpark side up the league table.

West, who were promoted at the end of last season as Division One champions, have played both of their Premier Division matches to date and have one win and one defeat from these outings. They are a very useful side and will provide a significant challenge for Greenock.

In the West line-up on Saturday will be professional Trevor Garwe, an all-rounder who has played one ODI for Zimbabwe and amateur Nick Boller from Australia who will keep wicket.

The Glasgow side have a number of bowling options and usually open with Gavin Smith and David McNulty whose pace and movement regularly get rewarded with wickets. Greenock would normally do well to see off these two bowlers with few or no losses and will therefore be delighted by the news that McNulty is unavailable on Saturday.

Toby Gardiner, Trevor Garwe, James Fennah and Anthony Hulatt usually provide the back-up to the two opening pacemen so that one of them, probably Garwe, will need to step up to replace McNulty, while as a fielding unit, the West of Scotland side is likely to be one of the best in the Premier Division.

If there is any weakness in the West side, it is perhaps in the batting department. Opening bat James Fennah has had some decent early season form scoring 55 against Greenock in a pre-season friendly, 34 against Poloc and 28 last week at Dumfries, but there has been no consistency in scoring from any others in the West side.

Greenock have plenty of players with run-scoring potential, but too frequently in recent times a lack of runs on the board has been an issue for the local side. Neil Flack's side will wish to find form at Hamilton Crescent on Saturday and a number of players who have shown that they can make a start to their innings, will be keen to record a substantial score.

Greenock require at least two or three of their batsmen to stick around and provide scores of fifty or more if the team is to be competitive. And there are players in the team who have such a capability. Flack himself is a batsman with talent and last season was the team's top scorer with over 700 runs.

Regular openers Shailesh Prabhu and Harry Briggs have both made good starts to innings which they have played so far this season, but have not yet been able to take any of these forward to a major score. However, Briggs is unavailable this weekend and so Prabhu will have a different opening partner against West.

Professional Saurabh Bandekar is a highly experienced player and in his first match for the Club at Ayr last Saturday, just hours after flying in from India, he showed signs of class which should ensure that he will be a very important player for Greenock. And overseas amateur Laurens Smit from South Africa could be a batsman who will bolster the Greenock top order.

Last Sunday, Smit hit an unbeaten 84 runs in a match at Glenpark against Torrance CC. While just a friendly and under no great pressure, the innings will however have given the teenager some confidence as he approaches this Saturday's league match.

Greenock's bowling attack will be spearheaded by Indian professional Bandekar with Jonathan Hempsey likely to be his opening bowling partner. Their task will be to get some early wickets and put West under some pressure. Other bowling options will be Neil Flack, Sam Sanghera, Greg McDougall and Rod Mountford.

Matches between Greenock and West of Scotland in recent seasons have usually been keenly contested affairs, and while West will have home advantage, Greenock have a good record at Hamilton Crescent.

Greenock's selection for Saturday shows just the one change from last Saturday's team with Sehmat Pandher repalcing the unavailable Harry Briggs. The match on Saturday at Glenpark will start at 12 noon.

The Glenpark XI recorded a useful win last weekend against Marress and will look to follow this with another winning performance against The Tryst (Stenhousemuir's 2nd XI) at Glenpark. Their squad of 13 players from which a final selection will be made will again contain a number of the Club's most promising young players who are gaining valuable experience from their time in the team. The match, of 40 overs per side, starts at 1pm.

The 1st XI are at home on Sunday for their opening match in this year's Citylets Scottish Cup competition when East of Scotland side Glenrothes provide the opposition. The Eastern Premier Division side have played just one competitive match so far this season, losing heavily to RH Corstorphine last Saturday. One man whom Greenock will need to keep an eye on is their Scottish internationalist captain, Safyaan Sharif, a proven match-winner with both bat and ball.

With a home draw in the next round against the winners of the Drumpellier v Carlton tie, there is an extra incentive for Greenock to do well on Sunday.

Greenock have chosen a squad of 12 players for the game with Chirag Pandher added to Saturday's team. This match will also start at 12 noon.


Greenock Cricket Club is sponsored this season by Cleaning Supplies 4U.