Greenock still searching for elusive first league win


Top Glasgow side, Clydesdale, are Greenock's opponents for this Saturday's Premier Division match which will take place at Titwood.

With the recent spell of warmer and sunnier weather, grounds across the west of Scotland have had the opportunity to dry out and most are now in very good condition. Titwood is one of the very best in the country and is regularly the venue of some of the most prestigious cricket matches played each summer.

It is a big ground and matches played there often can be high scoring affairs with batsmen having the opportunity to show their talents on a wicket which can favour good strokeplay.

In the Clydesdale team are various players who this season have already demonstrated abilities with the bat. In the only home match which Clydesdale have played in the Premier Division so far this season, teenager Angus Guy just missed out on a century against Poloc, when the sides met at Titwood two weeks ago. He made a marvellous 90 runs and shared a 163 run partnership with Scottish internationalist Richie Berrington as his side racked up a total of 251 runs for the loss of 7 wickets .

Former Greenock player Berrington scored 80 runs in the match-winning partnership, and he will be the most prized wicket for the Glenpark men this Saturday afternoon. Berrington, who has represented his country on over two hundred occasions, is a key player for Clydesdale and knows how to bat on the normally excellent Titwood track but he is not infallible and last week at Dumfries he was out early, bowled for just one run.

Scoring runs and getting a challenging total on the board is Greenock's main problem at present with few players able to sustain a lengthy period of time at the crease and build meaningful partnerships. This Saturday at Titwood, on a good wicket, would be an ideal time for them to show the talents which they undoubtedly have, but which this season for most have just not yet come to the fore.

Important for the Glenpark side will be getting the innings off to a sound start and it is possible that Shailesh Prabhu and Harry Briggs will resume their role at the top of the order. Both players have experience with this job and if asked to open the innings will seek to see off the early Clydesdale attack and put important runs on the scoreboard.

Also, if professional Saurabh Bandekar can get settled in and bat for a lengthy period, then he has the potential to make a big score. And his experience and talent could assist others in the side to show what they are capable of too.

Greenock captain Neil Flack has made a number of decent starts to his innings in the various matches played so far but has not, as yet, been able to bat on to a high score. The big platform of playing against Clydesdale at Titwood should be an ideal place for Flack to bat long and score well. He was able to do so on numerous occasions last year and has the talent to do so again on Saturday when conditions should be in his favour.

Jonathan Hempsey recently reached the major milestone of 2000 runs and 200 wickets for Greenock 1st XI, becoming just the 16th player in the Club's 156 year history to do so. He scored a 1st XI career best of 70 against West of Scotland two weeks ago at Hamilton Crescent and a repeat of an innings of that calibre would be of huge benefit to the team.

Returning to the Greenock team for the Clydesdale match may be Chris Hempsey. He is the team's number one wicketkeeper and also a mid-order batsman and so a key player for the side. He has missed crucial league and cup matches over the past week due to having sustained a very swollen, poisoned ankle due to an insect bite. He has been receiving hospital treatment, but is hopeful of being able to play on Saturday if the swelling and bruising reduces sufficiently to allow him to do so.

As well as putting on a good batting display, the Glenpark team will need to bowl and field well on Saturday if a positive result is to be gained and early wickets could put the Titwood side on to the back foot. But the Glasgow south side team team has numerous players capable of scoring well and so taking chances when offered by the Clydesdale batsmen really must be snapped up as these will be important to keep run-scoring in check.

The weekend weather forecast is for sunshine and warm temperatures, which should provide ideal cricketing conditions. Titwood is a top venue and so Saturday afternoon's fixture has the potential to provide a very enjoyable afternoon's cricket with both sides making good scores.

Greenock will be keen to put on a good performance and bring out the best in their play in order to gain their first Premier Division win of the 2018 season.

Greenock's selection is likely to show two changes from last week with Chris Hempsey and Sam Sanghera replacing Sehmat Pandher and Ewan Stewart. The match will start at 12 noon.

The Glenpark XI suffered a somewhat chastening experience last Saturday as Motherwell scored 345 for 3 in a strong first-half batting display. To their credit, the Glenparkers fought hard in their innings, reaching 215 for 9 in their reply but it was a disappointing end to their winning run. This Saturday they welcome the Cavaliers, Clydesdale's third string, to Glenpark and will want to get back to winning ways. Skipper Ally Calder will make his final selection from a squad of 14 players. The match, of 40 overs per side, starts at 1pm.

The Hillend XI play a West of Scotland XI on Sunday at Glenpark, which will give some of the Club's younger players some more essential match experience. The match starts at 1pm and will be a 40 overs per side encounter.


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