Greenock make slow start to the 2018 season

Greenock 1st XI vs West of Scotland
Saturday 21st April 2018

West of Scotland 175 for 9 J Fennah 55, N Boller 55*; SS Sanghera 3 for 25
Greenock 1st XI 98 D McNulty 5 for 13


Glorious sunshine, blue skies and warm temperatures brought out a decent crowd to Glenpark on Saturday as Greenock got their 2018 cricket season under way with a friendly against Premier League new boys, West of Scotland, and it was the Glasgow side who gained an early season, confidence building win.

Getting the match on was a triumph for the team of volunteers and groundsman Stuart MacLean who had worked for days to get the ground fit for play after weeks and months of poor weather.

Greenock were without their two overseas players, Indian professional Saurabh Bandekar and South African amateur Laurens Smit who have yet to arrive, plus at least a couple of others who will likely play in their top team, and fielded a mixture of 1st and 2nd XI players. So when captain, Neil Flack won the toss he elected to insert West to have the first opportunity with the bat.

The Glasgow side made a slow, reasonably sound start to their innings but lost their captain, Gregg Watson, when Greg McDougall came on as first change bowler and immediately made the breakthrough Greenock had been looking for.

The Glenpark side's joy turned out to be only momentary however, as West's other opening batsman James Fennah and their overseas amateur from Australia, Nick Boller, took control and built a substantial partnership. The partnership only ended when Fennah reached his half century, and, being an early season friendly, retired on 55.

The next two West batsmen both failed to trouble Greenock's new electronic scoreboard as firstly, Jonathan Fearn was caught and bowled by Jonathan Hempsey and then Jonny Williams was given out LBW to Sam Sanghera.

Barbadian, Simon Naitrom, a student in Glasgow who has recently joined at Hamilton Crescent, and Australian amateur Boller, added some quickfire runs with Naitrom's contribution being three boundaries before being bowled by McDougall.

Boller continued to be the rock of the West innings and he and Jesse Mills shared a short partnership until Rod Mountford came into the Glenpark bowling attack and had the young Glaswegian caught by Jonathan Hempsey for 10.

Sam Sanghera returned for a second bowling spell and collected the wickets of both Gavin Smith (4) caught by Shailesh Prabhu and David McNulty (2) bowled.

The very last ball of West's 40 over innings provided Greenock with an ninth wicket when Neil Flack bowled Graeme Etheridge and so the visitors ended with a total of 175 for the loss of nine wickets and Aussie Boller unbeaten on 55.

Sam Sanghera was Greenock's most successful bowler with 3 for 25, with Greg McDougall picking up 2 for 37.

West's potent opening bowling attack of Gavin Smith and David McNulty provided problems for Greenock's early order batsmen with McNulty, in particular, causing damage. The pace bowler picked up the wickets of Harry Briggs and Chris Hempsey both bowled and Neil Flack LBW to put Greenock in some early trouble.

Jonathan Hempsey and Shailesh Prabhu then had a useful partnership which brought Greenock back into the game. But the departures of both Hempsey (16) and Prabhu (24) ended any real hope that the Glenpark side might challenge West's total.

Rod Mountford and teenager Tom Forrest provided one final flourish as the game moved towards its end. However, the re-introduction of both pacey opening bowlers Smith and McNulty signalled the visitors' intention to wrap up the match, and they duly did so with Greenock's last wicket falling on the very final ball of the scheduled 40 over innings.

Mountford (21) was bowled by McNulty and Forrest (11) was caught behind the wicket off the bowling of Smith as the innings finished on 98.

David McNulty bagged a five wicket haul and finished his eight over spell with figures of 5 for 13.

Unfortunately, the fine weather of Saturday reverted back to the all too common wet weather on Sunday morning and the scheduled friendly match against Renfrew was called off. So, over the first two weekends of the season, wet weather has forced three out of Greenock's four pre-season friendlies to be cancelled.

The Premier Division competitive league programme begins next Saturday when hopefully the weather will relent and enable Greenock's game against Dumfries to take place.