Greenock looking for third league win on the trot


Following last weekend's fine win over Premier Division leaders Ferguslie at Meikleriggs, Greenock return to Glenpark this weekend for another very important fixture against Stirling County who occupy the league position immediately above the local side.

The last three Saturdays have shown a big improvement in form for Greenock. Against Clydesdale, the team came close to a win, going down by just ten runs in a very high scoring match. Then against Uddingston, theytriumphed in a match which was eventually decided by the Duckworth Lewis Stern (DLS) method. And last Saturday, league leaders Ferguslie were beaten following a fine, all round team performance.

Key to the improvement in form has been run-scoring. Various members of the team have found form with the bat and the result has been a number of consecutive matches where the team has accumulated large scores.

Team captain, Neil Flack has led from the front. Against Clydesdale he scored a magnificent 119 runs in an innings which saw him return to the top of his form. And last Saturday at Ferguslie, Flack hit a sparkling 76 which helped to set up Greenock's winning score of 214 for 7.

Teenager Harry Briggs, who has been Flack's opening batting partner, has also found a return to good form at the top of the order and while he has not gone on to make large scores, his contribution to the first wicket partnerships in the matches with Clydesdale and Ferguslie have been of significant value.

Greenock's two overseas players, Indian professional Saurabh Bandekar and South African amateur Laurens Smit have both settled in well and become important contributors to the team. Bandekar scored useful runs against Uddingston and Ferguslie and in the latter match at Meikleriggs ripped through the Ferguslie late order batsmen with a brilliant bowling hat-trick to set up the win.

Smit scored 63 in a 179 run partnership with Flack at Clydesdale and a useful 18 runs at Ferguslie as the middle order dug deep to build a challenging and ultimately winning total. He also scored a match-winning 63 in a midweek cup match at Renfrew.

Others who have made important contributions include Jonathan Hempsey and Greg McDougall who have picked up a total of 12 wickets and over 70 runs between them in the recent three league matches.

A very important area of improvement for Greenock last Saturday was with the lack of 'extras' given away. Bowling was very disciplined with only four wides bowled throughout the Ferguslie innings which played a significant part in Greenock gaining the win over their Renfrewshire rivals.

Stirling County, who are this Saturday's visitors to Glenpark, are immediately above Greenock in the Premier Division table. Like Greenock, they have gained two wins so far this season. The first was on the opening Saturday of the season when 2017 champions Prestwick were well beaten on their own ground in Ayrshire. County's second win was against Ayr on the last Saturday in May, but by the narrow margin of just 14 runs.

Key players in the Stirling side are the experienced Gavin Anderson, South African amateur Brandon McMullen, and the son of the Scottish national cricket coach, Tom Bradburn.

Anderson is an all rounder being both a useful batsman and also a dangerous change bowler. McMullen will be likely to open the bowling and bat in the middle order where he has been a consistently good run scorer for the team while young Bradburn is a very useful middle order bat.

Also likely to feature in the Stirling side will be Louis Ware who came up through the junior ranks at Greenock. But having left school last summer and taken up a university course at Stirling University he has switched allegiances to County as he now lives in the town. Louis will be sure to get a 'warm' welcome back to Glenpark !

With both teams sitting close to each other in the Premier Division table, Saturday's encounter takes on an increased level of importance as whoever wins this match will move up the table and put a bit of space between themselves and the teams at the bottom.

Greenock's improved form of recent weeks has lifted the Club off the bottom of the Premier Division and to win this Saturday's match against Stirling County, Greenock must continue with the good form of recent weeks in all departments of the game.

The wonderful weather of the last few weeks which was brought to an end with unsettled conditions impacting the west of Scotland in midweek, means Saturday's cricket will be very much in the balance. Greenock will be keen to get the game on though as a win over their near neighbours in the league table could prove very important as the season moves towards its midway point.

Greenock's selection for Saturday shows one change from last week with Chris Hempsey available again and taking the place of young Ewan Stewart. The match starts at 12 noon.

Saturday's match is kindly sponsored by Lodge Greenock Kilwinning XII.

The Glenpark XI face the long journey to Dumfries on Saturday to play Kingholm (St Michael's 2nd XI). Skipper Ally Calder has already made his selection for the game and will be hoping that his young team will win again to maintain their mid-table position. The match, of 40 overs per side, starts at 1pm.

On Sunday afternoon, the Hillend XI play host to a West of Scotland CC Development XI in a match with a 1pm start. A squad of thirteen has been selected for the game and once again it is an opportunity for the younger players of the Club to gain valuable game time against more senior players. Ally Calder is likely to captain the side and he will have the assistance of Laurens Smit and Greg McDougall to provide help the host of youngsters in the team.


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