Greenock look to climb table with win at Poloc


On Saturday, Greenock travel to the south side of Glasgow to play Poloc CC in the final match of the first half of the 2018 Premier Division league programme. The Glasgow side are just two places above Greenock in the league table and if the Glenparkers can gain a win, then the 12% gap which currently separates the two teams could be narrowed significantly.

Last Saturday, all but two of the Premier Division matches were washed out. Only the matches on the Ayrshire coast at Ayr and at Prestwick got played, albeit with reduced overs per side. Ayr lost to Clydesdale, which meant Ayr remained one place below Greenock and just above bottom club Dumfries. Prestwick lost to Uddingston.

Greenock's form in June has been in stark contrast to the first few weeks of the season. Wins against Uddingston and Premier Division leaders Ferguslie, as well as a McCulloch Cup win against Renfrew, has given the side confidence and some momentum, which hopefully will not be lost due to the weather enforced break last weekend.

Runs have flowed in the last number of matches with scores in excess of 200 against Clydesdale and Ferguslie, plus further fine batting performances against Uddingston and Renfrew. Team captain Neil Flack has come into form and has posted 119 against Clydesdale and 76 against Fergjuslie. And Greenock's overseas players Saurabh Bandekar from India and Laurens Smit from South Africa have also contributed well with the bat along with Harry Briggs and Jonathan Hempsey.

At least three or four of these players will need to continue their good form on Saturday at Poloc in order to bring back the win points. Getting runs on the board are essential whether setting a challenging total if batting first or chasing the opponents score if getting second use of the pitch.

Greenock have the players who can bat down the order if necessary but of crucial importance is batting through the innings and using the overs which are available. Too often in recent seasons, Greenock have failed to bat through their fifty overs or have run out of wickets when chasing their opponents' score.

But this season, and in particular in the last four weeks, there has been a real change in the team's play and a determination to dig in where necessary and not give the opposition easy wickets. Runs come if batsmen stay in and challenging totals can be achieved even if there is a loss of one or two wickets in the early part of the innings.

A perfect example was against Uddingston on the first Saturday in June when Greenock lost a number of early wickets when chasing the Lanarkshire team's total, and then a fine fifth wicket partnership between Saurabh Bandekar and Jonathan Hempsey took the game away from Uddingston and gained a great win for Greenock.

Likewise at Ferguslie, Rod Mountford and Greg McDougall dug in for an important seventh wicket partnership which took Greenock past 200 runs and allowed the team to bat through the fifty overs and set the league leaders a total which they were unable to overcome.

However, it is not only scoring runs which wins matches. Bowling and fielding can have a very important impact too. A disciplined bowling attack can pin down the opposition, and, if extras are kept to a bare minimum, an opposition's scoring can be kept well under control. Greenock will be keen to be sharp in the field on Saturday.

Poloc have had a mixed season to date in this season's Premier Division matches. The Glasgow southsiders have completed six games and have won three and lost three. They have won their last two outings against Ayr and Stirling County quite convincingly and on the opening Saturday of the season scraped past West of Scotland with just one wicket and three balls of the match remaining. In between they lost three matches on the bounce to Clydesdale, Ferguslie and Uddingston.

The Shawholm side have relied very heavily on their two overseas players, both from South Africa, professional Jurie Snyman and amateur Coenraad Nel. They are seriously destructive batsmen and Greenock will wish to see them removed early in their innings. Snyman hit 148 not out against Stirling County and Nel 105 against West of Scotland and both have had other useful knocks in some other matches.

Others in the Poloc side whom Greenock will be wary of include Craig Young, Saif Sajjad and Mo Ramzan.

Out of the Greenock team due to unavailability is opener Harry Briggs, so it is likely that Shailesh Prabhu will open the innings with Neil Flack. Back into the side comes Sam Sanghera who has had time out to recover from an injury.

Greenock will be hoping to continue their recent good form at Shawholm, and with Saturday's weather looking fine, there should be a full game without any interruption. The game will start as usual at 12 noon.

The Glenpark XI are at home on Saturday to East Renfrewshire who sit two places above Glenpark in third position in the Third Division table. Skipper Ally Calder will make his final selection from a squad of fourteen and the team will need to be at its best to gain the win against a side who appear to be a free-scoring outfit. The match, of 40 overs per side, starts at 1pm.


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