Greenock travel to Irvine seeking a third successive league win

Greenock travel to Irvine on Saturday buoyed by the confidence gained from winning both of their opening two league matches. Firstly East Kilbride were beaten by 56 runs through at the Lanarkshire side's Torrance House ground and last Saturday at Glenpark, Poloc were soundly beaten by 142 runs.

Irvine, on the other hand, have made a poor start to their league campaign losing very heavily to both Stenhousemuir and Drumpellier. Against Stenhousemuir in the opening match, Irvine could score only 59 all out in reply to Stenhousemuir's 242 for 8. And last Saturday, the Ayrshire side's batting struggled to 79 all out from 30 overs which was easily overtaken by Drumpellier who scored 80 for the loss of just 2 wickets in 23 overs.

However, while Irvine's early season form has been poor, Greenock must not think that they will have an easy afternoon at the Ayrshire club's Marress ground. Irvine will be keen to provide a much more competitive performance on Saturday. In particular, they will be hoping that their batsmen find some form and put up a challenging total.

Greenock, for their part, will have recognised Irvine's poor run-scoring form and be keen to put their batters under early pressure . Gregor Chambers and Sam Sanghera provided a fine opening bowling attack in both of Greenock's matches last weekend and have the ability to pick up wickets in the first few overs.

There is real added strength in the Greenock bowling line-up this season. Aussie amateurs Tom Nicholson and Ryan Walker, both spin bowlers, have picked up significant numbers of wickets in the early season matches. Nicholson was in top bowling form last weekend with five wickets in both matches while Walker had four wickets on Saturday against Poloc.

Greenock have also been in good run-scoring form in the two league matches played. Much of the credit for the sizeable totals must go to Tom Nicholson who has made a superb start to the season. The right-handed opening batsman scored 42 against East Kilbride and then last Saturday against Poloc batted through the full fifty overs of Greenock's innings to amass a magnificent 156 not out.

Nicholson has been supported by various others in the side who have chipped in with useful run-scoring contributions. Ryan Walker (44) and Lukas Fischer-Keogh (27) were the main support at East Kilbride while against Poloc there were several players who provided useful runs.

Nine players from last Saturday's match retain their positions. But Shailesh Prabhu is unavailable due to work commitments and young Usman Mansoor drops down to the Glenpark XI. Into the side in their places come PJ Bryceland and Cammy Calder.

There is a good mixture of experience and youth in the side for the trip down the coast for the match against Irvine, which will start as usual at 12 noon. And combined with the talent of the Club's two overseas amateurs, Nicholson and Walker, the Greenock side is looking stronger than has been the case in recent seasons.

The goal which the team has set themselves is to gain a quick return to the Premier Division and if the form shown in the opening two rounds of the league programme can be maintained then there is a very real chance that promotion can be won. But there is a long way to go in the season.

Local supporters, encouraged by the strong start to the season, will feel that a good run-scoring innings from Greenock plus a decent bowling and fielding performance should see the Glenpark side return home on Saturday evening with full points.

The Glenpark XI are at home on Saturday to their local rivals, Inverclyde. The two games that they have played so far this year have been losing draws and they will surely look to improve on these performances in a game which has such added importance. In order to do so, they will hope to be able to field a stronger team than has been the case so far this season.


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