Greenock fail to trouble Stirling

Stirling County vs Greenock 1st XI
WDCU CSL Premier Division
Saturday 17th July 2021

Stirling County 240 for 5 M Tweedie 94, B McMullen 67, H Booker 42; SK Fischer-Keogh 3 for 47
Greenock 1st XI 179 ND Flack 67, SK Fischer-Keogh 41; B McMullen 5 for 16, R Hewage 3 for 40


Greenock remain anchored at the bottom of the Premier Division after losing by 61 runs to third placed Stirling County at New Williamfield on Saturday.

The Glenpark team got the welcome news on Friday that top scoring batsman Neil Flack would after all be available to play as his work schedule had been changed and Sam Sanghera also passed himself fit to play.

County won the toss prior to the start of the match and opted to bat first on what was a very warm and sunny afternoon, and on a rock hard wicket which looked perfect for run-scoring.

The home team's top three batsmen had been identified pre-match as the players who needed to be removed early to give Greenock a decent chance of a win. Their collective form since the start of the season has been impressive and on Saturday their individual performances with the bat were once again top quality and were the mainstay of the New Williamfield team's fine innings.

Home skipper Matthew Tweedie opened along with Harry Booker and the pair got their side's innings off to a sound start, although Tweedie did survive two separate confident appeals from Greenock for caught behind.

The first eight overs yielded 27 runs from Greenock's pace bowling attack of Sean Fischer-Keogh and Gregor Chambers, with the latter particularly frugal giving up just six runs from four overs.

In the swelteringly hot conditions, Fischer-Keogh was given a break after bowling four overs and at the start of the ninth over he was replaced by Sam Sanghera. But a recurrence of an injury after just four balls required Sanghera's over to be completed by Jamie Nowell.

The two home batsmen continued to move the score along at a rate of just under four runs per over as Greenock swapped around their bowling attack using seven bowlers by the end of twenty five of the fifty over innings, at which point Stirling had reached 93 without the loss of a wicket.

However, Sean Fischer-Keogh was brought back for a second spell at the start of the 26th over and with his very first ball trapped Booker LBW for 42.

The breakthrough only brought young South African Brandon McMullen to the crease to join Tweedie. Averaging over 60 runs per innings this season, McMullen, now a resident in Scotland, has come to the attention of the international selectors and only this week has been added to the Scotland T20 World Cup squad.

McMullen very quickly signalled his intent and got his innings started very confidently with two fine boundaries. His partnership with Tweedie had rattled up 107 runs when his innings was ended. Gregor Chambers returned for a second spell in the 44th over and with just the fourth ball of that over McMullen was caught by Neil Flack having scored 67 runs.

New batsman Amir Shahzad had his stumps knocked back by Fischer-0Keogh in the 45th over without troubling the scorers.

Then, in the penultimate over of the County innings, Tweedie was clean bowled by Fischer-Keogh for 94, just six runs short of his century. And with the very last ball of the innings Morton (7) was bowled by Chambers

At the close of the home side's innings after their allotted 50 overs, County had lost five wickets and the total for Greenock to chase was 240.

Greenock's two pace bowlers picked up all five of the wickets which fell. Fischer-Keogh took 3 wickets for 47 runs from 10 overs and Chambers 2 for 40 from his 10 overs.

With both Neil Flack and Jamie Nowell available once again to open for the Glenparkers, there was a familiar look to the top of the batting order. But with just fifteen runs on the board, the partnership was broken when Nowell (4) was bowled by Akram Shakoor with the second ball of the fifth over.

Flack and Harry Briggs settled in to what seemed a good second wicket partnership and scored at around four runs per over. Then in the fourteenth over with the score on 57, Briggs (8) was caught by wicketkeeper Ashak Mulik, when he edged a delivery from the Sri Lankan, Rukman Hewage who had just been brought on as first change bowler.

Brandon McMullen came on as second change bowler at the start of the fifteenth over and immediately picked up two more Greenock wickets with Gregor Chambers and Shailesh Prabhu both removed in the space of just three balls.

The Glenparkers rallied with Sean Fischer-Keogh and Neil Flack adding 39 runs to take the team to 97 in the 25th over, the midway point in the innings, and very much the same as County at that stage, but with four wickets down compared to just one for the home side.

The difference in wickets lost, and Greenock's potential to hunt down the target set by Stirling. became even more pronounced when Flack was bowled by McMullen with second ball of the 25th over.

Flack had scored 67 out of the 97 runs on the board and the loss of the team's leading run-scorer left an uphill battle for the team as a further 144 runs were still needed to overtake County.

Chris Hempsey (13) scored a couple of quick boundaries, but fell victim trying to sweep Booker only to get a top edge and present an easy catch for wicketkeeper Mulik.

Lukas Fischer-Keogh joined his brother Sean and they put together a partnership of almost forty runs in ten overs to take Greenock to 152 before Lukas (9) was bowled by Hewage. And the County bowler was on a hat-trick when Aryan Sanghera had the briefest of stays at the crease.

Now Greenock were needing to score at around eight runs per over and had only two wickets remaining. So, when Sean Fischer-Keogh was caught by Mulik off the bowling of McMullen for a fine 41 runs with the total on 173, the game was all but over. And it was all over shortly afterwards when Greg McDougall (11) was bowled to become the South African's fifth victim of the afternoon.

For Stirling, McMullen took 5 wickets for just 16 runs from 7.1 overs. Rukman Hewage 3 for 40, Akram Shakoor 1 for 18 and Harry Booker 1 for 40 were the other wicket-takers.