Greenock target victory over Irvine

This Saturday sees the twelfth round of fixtures in this season's WDCU First Division programme and Greenock welcome Irvine to Glenpark as they target another victory to help them return to the Premier Division. They go into the match sitting in second place in the table, having won 8 of the 9 games that they have played so far.

Currently Stenhousemuir are the pace-setters, having won all 11 games that they have played and it looks increasingly likely that they have sewn up one of the promotion places. That leaves Greenock, Kilmarnock and Drumpellier to fight it out for the other place. Greenock need to ensure that they equal or better the results each week of their two rivals if they are to claim that second promotion place.

This Saturday's opponents, Irvine, come to Glenpark on the back of a mauling at the hands of Stenhousemuir, the leaders having scored a massive 353 for 5 before dismissing the Ayrshire team for just 99. One would imagine that the last team that they would want to play after that game was the one in second place in the league.

Having said that, Irvine sit comfortably placed in 5th position in the league, having won 5 and lost 4 of their games. But it is noticeable that all of their wins have come against teams below them in the table and they have not really come close to beating any of the sides above them.

They do have a couple of very useful South Africans in their line-up, both of whom made their mark when the two teams met at Marress at the start of the season. Leander Lubbe took 5 for 37 and Sammy Avontuur a fighting 74 out of a total of 124. With both of them in the top ten run-scorers in the league, it is clear that the Greenock attack will want to dismiss them as quickly as possible. Should they do so, then all the evidence would suggest that Irvine will struggle to make a challenging total.

Greenock have of course their two young Australians in their side, Tom Nicholson and Ryan Walker. Both have made significant contributions throughout the season and were instrumental in last week's comfortable win over East Kilbride. Nicholson is currently the second-highest run-scorer in the league with 480 runs while Walker leads the way in the bowling stats with 35 victims.

There would appear to be more depth to Greenock's team than there is with Irvine. Harry Briggs, Gregor Chambers and Lukas Fischer-Keogh have all shown their ability with the bat this season while Chambers has also been a fine opening bowler.

In the first game against Irvine this season, Greenock made 195 with contributions from nearly all their batsmen. They had reduced Irvine to 67 for 9 before a late flurry from Avontuur brought the score up to 124 but they were never really in danger of losing to the Ayrshire side.

Greenock will be able to field a stronger side this week than they did against East Kilbride. Although Harry Briggs is unavailable, back into the team come Chris and Jonathan Hempsey, Rod Mountford and Jamie Nowell.

If nothing else, Skipper Greg McDougall will have plenty of options when Greenock are in the field, and he knows that he can depend on the two Australians to bowl 20 overs of economic and wicket-taking spin bowling.

This is a match that Greenock not only need to win but one that they should win if the form book plays out. As long as they do not get complacent and think that the game is won before they step on the pitch, then the winning points should be theirs. The game will start at the usual time of 12 noon.

The Glenpark XI have not had their problems to seek this season in terms of availability. However, that should not be so much of a concern this week when they make the short trip to Gourock Park to play Inverclyde. The first match between these two teams was called off due to a wet outfield and so this game will alone decide the bragging rights between the two teams. It should be a keenly contested game and the Glenpark selection may well have their work cut out to record a victory over their local rivals.


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