Greenock brushed aside by Prestwick

Greenock 1st XI vs Prestwick
WDCU CSL Premier Division
Saturday 31st July 2021

Greenock 1st XI 64 I Singh 3 for 13, A Akbar 3 for 16
Prestwick 65 for 4 GM Chambers 4 for 22


Greenock lost out to 2017 Premier Division champions Prestwick, who proved too powerful and experienced, in the match at Glenpark on Saturday afternoon. But the Glenparkers put up a strong response in the field after a disappointing early batting performance in their own innings.

Heads or tails? The toss of the coin prior to the start of cricket matches can often define what follows. On Saturday at Glenpark, the Prestwick captain Fraser MacDonald chose wrongly leaving Greenock captain Greg McDougall with the option to bat or bowl first. He chose to bat.

It was a choice which McDougall was soon to regret as the top order of the Greenock batting line-up was quickly dismantled by the Prestwick bowling attack.

Missing Neil Flack and Jamie Nowell, Greenock's first choice opening pair this season, and also regular number three batsman Harry Briggs, the makeshift opening pairing of Shailesh Prabhu and Gregor Chambers were given the task of getting the Glenparkers off to a steady start to the innings.

However, with the last ball of the fourth over, Chambers edged a pacey, good length ball from Inderjit Singh and was caught behind the wicket by Tom Fleet with just six runs on the scoreboard.

Chris Hempsey joined Prabhu, but his stay out in the middle was short-lived as in Singh's next over, he clipped a ball to backward square leg only to find the hands of Josh Stafford.

Greenock's poor start only went from bad to worse in the seventh over when Sean Fischer-Keogh was trapped LBW with the first ball of Azeem Akbar's fourth over. Then young Cammy Calder was beaten by the pace and late in-swing of Akbar's third delivery and the top of his middle stump knocked back.

Akbar then gained his third wicket in just five balls when his pace and in-swing was too much for Chirag Pandher and his delivery hit low on the Glenpark batsman's pads. The loud Prestwick appeal was considered for several moments by umpire Gregg Watson, who then raised his finger for the second time in the over to signal Pandher's departure.

Greenock had only eight runs on the scoreboard and five wickets were down.

Ewan Stewart batting at number seven became Prabhu's sixth batting partner and for just a little more than four further overs the two held out against an onslaught of very fast, aggressive and attacking bowling from Akbar and Singh.

But then Prabhu became the visitors' sixth wicket when he was brilliantly caught low down at short cover. The Greenock opener latched on to a slightly over pitched delivery from Inderjit Singh and drove the ball very firmly on the offside only for Gurupreet Singh to take a superb low, diving catch close in to the wicket.

The Greenock innings now looked as though it could completely implode with six wickets down for just eleven runs.

Not so. The seventh wicket partnership of Ewan Stewart and Lukas Fischer-Keogh steadily put runs on the scoreboard as the youngsters batted together for fifteen overs with a growing assurance.

With both Stewart and Fischer-Keogh looking increasingly comfortable and Singh and Akbar showing signs of tiring, Prestwick skipper Fraser MacDonald brought Ronan Alexander and Euan McBeth on to bowl.

And McBeth eventually made the breakthrough in the 27th over. Fischer-Keogh tried to play a scoring shot through the offside only to edge the ball to Fleet keeping wicket. The partnership had added 32 runs and taken the score to 43 when Fischer-Keogh was the seventh wicket down.

Prestwick then made various changes to their bowling attack as they sought to bring the Greenock innings to a speedy end. Team captain MacDonald brought himself on and brought back opening pace bowler Inderjit Singh before introducing former Scotland international spin bowler Majid Haq.

Tailenders Greg McDougall, Aryan Sanghera and Usman Mansoor played out a further nine overs in short partnerships with Stewart and added 21 more runs before the innings ended on 64 with the last ball of the 36th over.

Ewan Stewart was unbeaten on 19 having defied the Prestwick attack and almost single-handedly helped to give the Greenock innings a little more credibility after the quite disastrous start to the afternoon's play.

Akbar and Singh were the visitors' top bowlers picking up three wickets each from their devastating opening spell of bowling which left the Greenock innings in disarray.

In keeping with the Glenparkers' determination to be competitive in matches this season, Prestwick did not have it easy as they set about overtaking the very modest total set them.

Sean Fischer-Keogh and Gregor Chambers provided the Prestwick openers with a barrage of pace bowling which soon brought results. With the score on 'unlucky 13' for the visitors in the fourth over of their innings, Chambers picked up two wickets in the space of just four balls.

Mitchell Rao was first to go clean bowled for 5 and then Gurupreet Singh, without scoring, presented a catch to Chirag Pandher just three balls later.

Chambers captured a third wicket when he trapped new batsman Euan McBeth LBW in his third over, again without scoring. 15 runs for the loss of 3 wickets after just 6 overs.

When Chambers picked up his fourth wicket of the afternoon by getting opening batsman Josh Stafford LBW for 11 in the 10th over with the score on 27, the Greenock supporters' thoughts of an unlikely win were beginning to be raised.

And had former professional and Prestwick's top scorer this season, Sachin Chaudhary, not had the good luck to have the top of his middle stump missed by a whisker by a ball from Chambers just after he arrived out in the middle, perhaps that unlikely win might have happened.

It was not to be however, as Chaudhary 27 not out and Fraser MacDonald 13 not out used all their experience to guide the visitors home in the 21st over without further alarm.

Gregor Chambers finished his ten over spell with 4 wickets for 22 runs.