Greenock eager for full points against GHK

Greenock host Glasgow High Kelvinside (GHK) at Glenpark on Saturday afternoon and will be determined to continue the good form which the team has displayed in the league so far. With four wins from the five matches played, Greenock are sitting in third top position and well placed to challenge for promotion back to the Premier Division.

Saturday's visitors, GHK, are currently bottom of the league table having lost all five of their matches. The Glasgow side have picked up only four bonus points and are well adrift from others at the lower end of the First Division league placings.

Last Saturday only one match in the First Division survived the wet weather which affected much of the west of Scotland. League leaders Stenhousemuir continued their fine form with a win over Hillhead at The Tryst and maintained their 100% record.

Greenock were perhaps fortunate that the weather intervened as a number of the 1st XI were unavailable on the day through a combination of injury, work and family commitments. This weekend availability is better and a strong side is expected to be ready to take on GHK.

Team captain, Greg McDougall, will have both overseas amateurs Tom Nicholson and Ryan Walker as key players in the side. The Aussies have been in excellent form with both bat and ball and given the team a drive and confidence which has been missing in the last few seasons.

Nicholson is second highest run scorer in the First Division while Walker is the leading wicket-taker. The fine form of these two players has had a positive impact on the others in the team and as a result Greenock have been much more competitive this season.

Batting alongside Nicholson at the top of the order on Saturday afternoon may be 22 year old Harry Briggs. He has developed into one of the team's strongest players. He is also a fine fielder. Briggs showed his batting capabilities with a useful knock of 44 runs against Irvine towards the end of May. If he can spend time at the crease on Saturday another good innings is quite likely.

Regular opening bowler, Gregor Chambers, is also a consistent performer in the top middle order of the team's batting line-up. The all rounder has scored into double figures in each of the league innings in which he has batted. He has also bowled well and been unfortunate to have only a few wickets to show for his efforts. That could easily change on Saturday and would be reward for his fine bowling form.

A young player who has come through from the junior age group teams and earned a place in the 1st XI is Jamie Nowell. He has matured into a very useful top order batsman and has been benefiting from the experience of playing alongside the Aussie amateurs. His confidence has grown and he has developed a good selection of scoring shots, many of which were in evidence on Tuesday evening in a 2nd XI cup match when he top scored with 31 runs.

Missing from Saturday's team will be Lukas Fischer-Keogh who is the regular wicketkeeper. He has been in fine form behind the stumps this season. However the team is fortunate to have the experienced Chris Hempsey available to take over this key position.

As well as missing Fischer-Keogh, Greenock will be without Sam Sanghera and Usman Mansoor both of whom will be out for a number of weeks.

Saturday's visitors, GHK, although not having any league wins to their credit, do have some players of whom Greenock should beware. Mahboob Ahmad is their top scoring batsman. His best score this season (65) came against East Kilbride in mid-May and showed that he is one to watch.

Others in the GHK line-up who have made good starts but not managed yet to build a really major innings include Zahid Mirza, Ahsan Rafiq and Aziz Numan. These players have signalled an intent but not taken forward their good starts to their innings and Greenock must ensure that none of them go big on Saturday at Glenpark.

The GHK bowling has not yet shown itself to be a big threat to the teams against whom they have played so far in the First Division. Khizar Ali with a total of just six wickets from the five matches played is the top wicket-taker for the team.

In the five First Division matches completed, GHK have shown an ability to build decent totals when batting first but have been easily beaten when batting second and chasing their opponents score.

Greenock on the other hand have batsmen who can both build a big first innings total and chase a total if necessary. The team also has a bowling line-up which has bowled out every team against which it has played in the league for less than 130 runs, except for Stenhousemuir who were bowled out for 156.

Another performance along similar lines from the selected eleven should ensure a fifth league win for Greenock on Saturday. And this weekend, with the league's two unbeaten teams Stenhousemuir and Kilmarnock playing each other at The Tryst, Greenock will have the opportunity of moving up to second top position as one of the two must lose their 100% record. The match at Glenpark will start as usual at 12 noon.

The Glenpark XI were forced to concede their game against Galloway 2nd XI last Saturday but this week there are no issues with availability and the team, which will be selected from a squad of twelve, are off to Stirling to take on the local teams's 2nd string, the Williamfield XI. Skipper Jayaraj Janampally will be keen to lead his team to a win that will see them start to climb the league table.


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