Greenock know only a win will do against GHK

Greenock travel through to Stirling on Saturday to play bottom side GHK knowing that a win could see the team return to Premier League cricket next season.

The match is being played at Stirling County's New Williamfield ground as GHK are unable to play the match at their usual Old Anniesland venue due to the rugby season now having started and the oval ball taking priority.

The First Division league programme has only two more Saturdays to go and the Glenparkers know that only GHK and fourth bottom Hillhead stand in their way from gaining one of the two promotion places. So there can be no slip-ups.

At the same time as Greenock play GHK, league leaders Stenhousemuir will be playing third placed Kilmarnock at the Ayrshire side's home venue. A win for Stenny should be enough for Greenock to be promoted along with the Stirlingshire side providing they gain a win at New Williamfield.

However, a win for Kilmarnock will mean the race for promotion will go to the last round of matches next Saturday.

For the match against GHK, Greenock will field a strong side but will be without the unavailable Cammy Calder from last week's team which defeated Renfrew and also regular number three batsman Harry Briggs who is unavailable for a second Saturday.

GHK have had a poor season, winning only three matches out of fourteen completed. All three wins were against teams currently occupying places in the bottom four of the league ... Hillhead, Poloc and East Kilbride.

Greenock captain Greg McDougall noted, "GHK are in a very low league position, but they are still fighting to stay in the First Division and so we are prepared for a tough game. They have a couple of batsmen who can score quickly so we will need to be at our best to be sure of the win that can keep us on track for promotion."

The Glasgow side had no wins at all in the first half of the season and it took until the first Saturday in July for them to get their first success which came against Hillhead at Hughenden. With two more wins before the month was out, July was clearly a good month for GHK.

Key performers in these wins were Muhammad Nadeem, Zahid Mirza and Asad Izaz with the bat and Zishan Iqbal, Khizar Ali, Mirza and Zain Ullah with the ball.

GHK have had to try and chase numerous large scores during the season but on each occasion have been bowled out well short of their target. And on the few occasions when they have managed to set reasonably challenging totals themselves, their opposition have overtaken their scores with some ease.

The highest total which they have posted all season was 202 against third top Kilmarnock at Old Anniesland, but Killie chased it down inside 32 overs and lost just 2 wickets. Asad Izaz with 85 runs put GHK into a good position at the end of their innings, but as has happened for most of the season the GHK bowling attack failed to make any real impression on the opposition batting.

The Old Anniesland team are facing relegation unless they can gain at least one more win from their last two games, which are against Greenock and Renfrew. But in the first half of the season they lost heavily to both teams, so the omens are not good.

Greenock will be keen to replicate the form which they showed against GHK in mid-June at Glenpark. Batting first, Greenock amassed 309 for the loss of just 3 wickets with Tom Nicholson top scorer on 101. GHK were then bowled out for 141 with Greenock's two Aussie amateurs, Nicholson and Walker, picking up seven wickets between them.

So while it may seem that this match should be an easy win for Greenock, GHK will be fighting for their existence in the First Division. Their three wins in July will have ignited some self-belief within the players in the side and Greenock must approach the game with caution as well as confidence.

But Greenock's hard fought victory over Renfrew last Saturday at Glenpark has returned the all important winning mentality to the team and team captain Greg McDougall said, "The players are back in a very positive place after the disappointment of losing to Drumpellier two weeks ago. Being knocked off the top of the league has actually galvanised the team. They are ready for the game against GHK and determined to gain a win. They know that beating GHK takes Greenock another step closer to promotion and a return to the Premier Division".

With only two defeats from 14 league matches completed, Greenock have shown that they deserve to be in contention for promotion. The team has batted well throughout most of the season and when batting first has set the opposition teams several totals in excess of 200 runs.

Equally, the bowling attack has been a major part of the team's success. In only two matches have the opposition batsmen managed to still be at the crease beyond 40 overs whether batting first or second.

A continuance of the team's form with bat and ball should ensure Saturday's trip to Stirling will be a successful one.

At the time of writing a squad of twelve has been named for the game from which the final selection will be made.

Saturday's match will start at the usual time of 12 noon.

The Glenpark XI play their final game of the season on Saturday at Glenpark against the Fourth Division leaders, Williamfield and will want go out on a high with a victory. A final selection has yet to be made but fourteen players are currently in the mix for the game which will start as usual at 12 noon.


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