Greenock's good start comes to nothing against Clydesdale

Clydesdale vs Greenock 1st XI
WDCU CSL Premier Division
Saturday 11th September 2021

Clydesdale 248 for 9 I Mughal 77, K Farid 68; SS Sanghera 5 for 61
Greenock 1st XI 106 SK Fischer-Keogh 35*; A Krishna 5 for 21, S Raja 3 for 24


Greenock's final away match of the season against Premier Division leaders Clydesdale at Titwood on Satiurday followed an all too familiar pattern ... a good start, followed by an inability to finish off their opponents' batting line-up, and then disintegration of their own batting reply.

The margin of Clydesdale's victory was 142 runs. But for about the first half of the league leaders innings, Greenock were well in the match with the top five home batsmen dismissed with only 85 runs on the scoreboard.

As the wickets tumbled at Titwood, it was almost possible to hear the applause from Paisley as the supporters of Ferguslie, who are in close contention for the championship, got their hopes up that their Renfrewshire rivals might topple top of the table Clydesdale.

It was not to be, and the stage is now set for a Premier Division title 'winner takes all' match next Saturday afternoon in Paisley, when the top two teams meet at Ferguslie's own Meikleriggs ground opposite the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

Just hours before the start of the match at Titwood, Greenock got a boost when news came through that Gregor Chambers, one of the team's opening pace bowlers would, after all, be in the side to meet Clydesdale. He had been due to have been in Manchester for a day out at the England v India Test match. But when it was called off due to a Covid issue, his trip south was cancelled.

At the coin toss prior to the commencement of play, Greenock captain Greg McDougall guessed correctly and inserted Clydesdale.

Sean Fischer-Keogh and Chambers opened the bowling attack as usual and while they kept the two home team opening batsmen Arman Farid and Paddy Barbour contained in their initial spells, they were unable to make a breakthrough.

But when McDougall made his first bowling change, it provided almost immediate success.

Knowing that Fischer-Keogh and Chambers are a very potent pair of pace bowlers, Farid and Barbour had shown considerable care and respect to them to ensure a steady start to the Clydesdale innings. However, perhaps with his guard dropped a little, Barbour (22) soon edged a delivery from new bowler Sam Sanghera and stand-in wicketkeeper Chris Hempsey took the catch.

The first breakthrough had been made with the score on 51 after 15 overs. And it brought in-form batsman Fazal Jawad to the middle. But he had made only six runs when Sanghera grabbed his second wicket by holding on to a return catch.

Greenock's second change bowler Neil Flack then got into the action by bowling opening batsman Arman Farid for 25 with the score on 70. And with no further runs added Sanghera had Sheryar Awan (3) caught by Shailesh Prabhu.

Owen Gould (3) became Sanghera's fourth victim of the afternoon when he was caught at the wicket by Chris Hempsey to leave Clydesdale reeling at 85 for the loss of 5 wickets in the 25th over, exactly mid-way through their innings.

With no Richie Berrington in the Clydesdale side due to Scotland's preparation for the first of three international T20 matches versus Zimbabwe which begin in midweek, Greenock now had the chance to run through the remainder of the home batting.

But Clydesdale are not at the top of the Premier Division without good reason and Kasim Farid and Imran Mughal soon removed the momentum from Greenock. From 85 for the loss of 5 wickets, the lower middle order pairing put on a stand of 112 runs to put their team firmly in charge.

The partnership was broken on 197 in the 45th over when Sanghera, in his tenth and final over, trapped Farid LBW for 68.

New batsman Zeeshan Bashir took a single from his first ball from Sanghera to put Mughal on strike and the Clydesdale man immediately showed his disapproval of losing his high scoring partner by dispatching the last three balls of Sanghera's over for a six and two boundaries.

Greenock picked up a further three wickets in the closing five overs as Clydesdale took their total to 248 for the loss of 9 wickets.

Fischer-Keogh, returning for his third spell, had the hard hitting Mughal caught by Sanghera for 77 and there were two run outs, Bashir (15) and Arun Krishna (10).

Sanghera was the top man in the field for Greenock taking a brilliant 5 wickets for 61, his bowling stats rather clouded by having 17 runs taken from his last over, and a fine catch.

After a reduced interval break, due to the likelihood of failing light in the early evening as the season is extended into September because of Covid, Greenock needed to make a sound start to their innings. And with experienced bat Neil Flack available for this match, hopes were high that an improved team batting performance might be provided on this occasion.

But just five overs into the innings, these hopes had been dashed as the Glenparkers were three wickets down with just 17 runs on the board. All three wickets falling to pace bowler Arun Krishna.

More anguish followed as Greenock struggled to 36 for 6 after just 13 overs and in the process lost Flack caught by home skipper Paddy Barbour for 13 from the bowling of Krishna.

The Greenock lower middle-order and tail-end batsmen eventually managed to put a glimmer of respectability to the team's total with Sanghera 16 and Fischer-Keogh not out 35 the two top scoring batters. The Glenparkers were finally all out for 106 with the last ball of the 38th over.

Arun Krishna with 5 wickets for 21 runs from 8 overs was the main architect of Greenock's demise, with Shahan Raja also picking up 3 for 24 as the lower half of the Glenparkers' batting was mopped up.

Sam Sanghera was without doubt Greenock's top player of the afternoon with 5 wickets, 16 runs and a catch to his credit.

This coming Saturday sees Greenock's last match of the Premier Division season when Stirling County come to Glenpark. A win from this final game would give encouragement for a much better season in 2022 when a quick return to the Premier Division will be the aim.