Greenock in top of the table clash at Glenpark

It is a First Division top of the table clash at Glenpark this Saturday afternoon when Greenock meet Stenhousemuir. The two teams are unbeaten so far in their league matches and even at this quite early stage in the season the two sides look likely contenders to be at the very forefront of the race for promotion to the Premier Division.

Last season Greenock struggled in the Premier Division and ended the summer being relegated along with Poloc. However, there is a real sense of confidence in the Greenock camp this year. The addition of two very talented young Australian amateurs has galvanised the team and, with several young Greenock players now beginning to show their potential in the 1st XI, winning ways have returned.

Scoring runs has been Greenock's achilles heel in the last few seasons. But in the three league matches which Greenock have completed this season, the team has passed 250 runs once and exceeded 150 runs twice.

Aussie amateur Tom Nicholson has been an important influence in the batting improvement. He has displayed sound technique as an opening batsman and his 156 not out against Poloc was a masterclass.

But it has not been a one man show. Numerous other players have been in good run-scoring form in the early phase of the league programme. Harry Briggs, Jamie Nowell, Lukas Fischer-Keogh and Cammy Calder, all young Greenock players who have come through the junior ranks, have displayed good batting form.

In addition, Ryan Walker, Greenock's second Australian amateur from Brisbane in Queensland, has demonstrated that he will be an important all-rounder for the Club. As well as scoring useful runs, Walker is also a wicket-taker. With 14 league wickets from just three matches he sits atop the First Division bowling stats.

Saturday's opponents, Stenhousemuir, won promotion to the Premier Division as First Division champions in 2015 but lasted just one season in the top league. Relegation in 2016 meant an immediate drop back down to the First Division. Since then the Larbert side have been rebuilding and now seem to have a side which could be a contender to return to the top flight of cricket in west central Scotland.

The Stirlingshire side have played four and won four with comfortable wins over Poloc, Irvine, Renfrew and Drumpellier.

A key player this season is their South African professional Danie Roussouw. The 27 year old made his first-class debut in February 2021 for Easterns and his first appearance in a List A (50 over) match in the same month. Last October, he then made his T20 debut for Easterns so it can be seen that he comes to Scotland with some top-class experience.

The South African wicket-keeper / batsman showed his class in Round 2 of the league programme against Irvine scoring 137 in Stenny's total of 242 for 8 at Irvine's Marress ground. He followed that with 42 against Renfrew and 75 last Saturday against Drumpellier.

Roussouw, who usually bats at number 4, is a player in form and so his wicket will be an important one to get early in the innings.

Also in the Stenhousemuir side from South Africa is 20 year old amateur Emile Streicher who bats mid order and is a useful change bowler.

Apart from the two South Africans, there are a number of players in the Larbert side who have made a real impression in the league fixtures to date.

John Vaughan-Davies has shown some consistent form as an opening bat. In three out of the four league matches he has scored in the thirties and helped his team make a good start to their innings.

Callum Grant and Praveen Pinnamaneni are second and third in the First Division bowling stats. But neither bowler has been in the frontline attack used by Stenhousemuir. Instead they follow on from opening bowlers Nicholas Lister and Nicky Rodgers. It is a plan which has worked well with Grant having picked 13 wickets (including 5 wickets for 4 runs from 10 overs v Renfrew) and Pinnamaneni 12 wickets.

Greenock will make one change from the side which defeated Irvine at their Marress ground in North Ayrshire last Saturday. Chris Hempsey is unavailable and back into the side comes former 1st XI captain Shailesh Prabhu who himself was unavailable last weekend due to work commitments.

So all is set for a match which sets the top teams in the First Division in a head to head contest. Glenpark will provide a fine setting for the match, which even at this early point in the season, could have an important bearing in the race for promotion to the Premier Division. The match will start at 12 noon.

The Glenpark XI travel to Glasgow to play Glasgow Accies 2nd XI (Anniesland) in a Fourth Division match at New Anniesland on Saturday afternoon. After the disappointment of last week's cancellation of the derby with Inverclyde, the team will be glad to get back playing again. A squad of fourteen has been assembled under new captain, Jayaraj Janampally, from which the final selection will be made.


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