Greenock hope home advantage pays off this weekend


Greenock play their first home competitive match of the season at Glenpark on Saturday afternoon when last season's Premier Division champions, Prestwick, are the visitors. And it is a busy weekend for the local side with Glenrothes also at Glenpark on Sunday in the opening round of the Scottish Cup.

Greenock have yet to record a league win in the 2018 season, but it is very early days and few matches have been able to be played due to the very indifferent weather which the west of Scotland has had over the opening weeks of the league competition.

Last Saturday against West of Scotland at Hamilton Crescent in Glasgow, there were positive signs as Greenock provided a strong West side with a very good game of cricket which went deep into the one hundred available overs.

With the weather showing signs of improvement, Greenock will likewise look to show their supporters that the potential within the team can be realised. In the batting line-up few have 'fired' thus far in the season but players such team captain Neil Flack, Indian Professional Saurabh Bandekar, South African amateur Laurens Smit, and openers Shailesh Prabhu and Harry Briggs all have the ability to score well and build big innings.

At Hamilton Crescent, Jonathan Hempsey, who will probably bat in the lower middle order, showed what can be achieved when time is spent at the crease. He batted for well over an hour and scored a very fine 70 runs which put Greenock into a challenging position for a spell, before the last few wickets tumbled and the match went in favour of the Glasgow side.

Batting and scoring runs is, however, just one part of the game. Fielding is another, but the fielding skills which have been a highlight of Greenock teams in recent seasons have fallen below the expected standard in the opening weeks of this season. The players have been putting in practice in this area of the game and with an improvement in the weather -warmer and drier - it is to be hoped that fewer runs are given away and catching chances are taken in the matches ahead.

Prestwick have had a mixed start to their season. In the two Premier Division matches which they have managed to complete, the Ayrshire side have gained a 6 wicket win against Dumfries last Saturday and a loss to Stirling County on the opening Saturday of the season.

Just like Greenock, last weekend Prestwick had their Scottish Cup opening round match postponed due to weather and so on Sunday face the long journey through to Arbroath.

To win last season's Premier Division title, Prestwick produced a consistently good team performance throughout the season. Players such as Sachin Chaudhary, Mitchell Rao, Shazad Rafiq, Fazal Jawad, Tom Fleet, Fraser Macdonald and Ross Patterson all played their part and will be likely to provide a serious challenge to Greenock on Saturday afternoon.

The weather is set fair until at least Saturday, so ground conditions should not be an issue and hopefully a good crowd will be present to enjoy the afternoon's cricket.

Greenock will select from a squad of twelve with Harry Briggs added to last week's team. The match on Saturday at Glenpark will start at 12 noon.

The Glenpark XI recorded a second win in a row last weekend when they defeated The Tryst in a tight contest and they followed this up with a midweek Western Cup win over Vale of Leven. This Saturday they are away to Motherwell with the game being played at New Williamfield's second pitch as Dalziel Park is not currently available. Skipper Ally Calder has a plethora of riches to pick from this week and he will make a final selection from a squad of 15 players. The match, of 40 overs per side, starts at 1pm and will be a tough test for this mainly young team.

The 1st XI are at home on Sunday for their first round tie in this year's Citylets Scottish Cup competition when East of Scotland side Glenrothes provide the opposition. The first attempt to play the game foundered last Sunday when overnight rain caused parts of Glenpark to be deemed unfit for play.

The Eastern Premier Division side have lost both of their competitive matches so far this season losing heavily to RH Corstorphine by over 120 runs on the first Saturday of May and by eight wickets to Arbroath last Saturday.

Scottish international pace bowler, and centurion with the bat against Arbroath last weekend, Safyaan Sharif will be missing from the Glenrothes side. He would have been in the Eastern Knights XI to play Western Warriors in the first of the T20 Regional series being played at Titwood in Glasgow on Sunday anyway but has now signed professional terms with English county side Derbyshire and so will not be available to Glenrothes for a significant part of the season. This is an an undoubted boost to Greenock as Sharif is a player who can win a game on his own when he is on top form.

There is an extra incentive for Greenock to do well on Sunday, as the victors of the match with Glenrothes will be at home to Eastern Premier Division side Carlton in the next round of the competition.

Greenock have chosen the same squad of 12 players as last week with Chirag Pandher replacing the unavailable Harry Briggs in Saturday's squad. This match will also start at 12 noon.


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