Greenock in key promotion contest with Kilmarnock

Greenock begin the second half of the 2022 league programme with a trip down to Ayrshire on Saturday to play Kilmarnock at their Scott Ellis Playing Fields ground.

The local side will hope to continue their fine form in the season to date which has taken them to second top position in the Western District Cricket Union (WDCU) First Division. And a win over third placed Kilmarnock would open up a significant gap and put Greenock in a strong position to obtain promotion back to the Premier Division.

Kilmarnock are just over 3% behind Greenock at the midway point in the season having won six out of seven matches completed, which is the same as Greenock. But Killie have fewer bonus points and a much poorer NRR (net run rate).

Although the Ayrshire side have won the same number of matches as Greenock, their wins have not been as convincing. They have been pushed hard by a number of their opponents and have only gained comfortable wins against two sides, Renfrew and Poloc.

Kilmarnock have had two wins from particularly close encounters. In Round 5 of the league programme, East Kilbride bowled the Ayrshire side out for just 111 but could only manage 95 runs in reply.

And last Saturday against Drumpellier at Coatbridge there was an even closer result. Batting first Kilmarnock were bowled out for 99 and then scraped through when Drumps failed in their run chase and were all out for 95 making the margin of victory just 4 runs.

First half of the season results would suggest the Kilmarnock batting line-up is inconsistent. In the last four matches completed the Ayrshire side has been bowled out for under 112 runs three times.

There have been a couple of matches in which targets of 170 have been achieved but only once has the Ayrshire team passed 200 runs in an innings and that was against Poloc who currently languish at the bottom end of the league table.

Key players in the Kilmarnock side are South African amateur Ben Lombard and the club's paid coach 32 year Abdul Rehman Muzammil from Pakistan. Both are in the top ten for run-scoring in the WDCU First Division. Muzammil has scored 235 runs at an average of 47 while Lombard has scored 184 at an average of 37.

Muzammil is a fine all-rounder who also bowls right arm off breaks. He has played a significant number of First Class matches and represented Pakistan A in one match v England A at Canterbury in 2016.

Greenock will go into Saturday's match with confidence built up after a good first half of the season, but also knowing that there will be no room for complacency against Kilmarnock.

Last Saturday's win at Hillhead will have added to the feel good factor in the Greenock camp as it was achieved with only minor input from the club's Aussie amateurs Tom Nicholson and Ryan Walker. Gregor Chambers with three wickets led the way as the Greenock bowling attack gave little to the Glasgow side. And Lukas Fischer-Keogh with 27 and Harry Briggs with 52 were both unbeaten as they scored the runs to easily win the match by nine wickets.

Greenock's selected team shows that they will be without Jamie Nowell, Rod Mountford and Shailesh Prabhu but back into the side come Chris Hempsey, PJ Bryceland and Aryan Sanghera.

At Kilmarnock, Tom Nicholson and Ryan Walker will be an important part of the Greenock bowling attack. But with Gregor Chambers in top form opening the bowling along with team captain Greg McDougall, and Ewan Stewart and young Aryan Sanghera also in the side, there is considerable variety to provide problems for the Kilmarnock batting line-up.

In terms of run-scoring, the elevation of Lukas Fischer-Keogh to open alongside Tom Nicholson worked very well last week at Hillhead and looks likely to be repeated against Killie. Then with Harry Briggs, Ryan Walker and Gregor Chambers all in good recent form with the bat, the top order looks in good shape.

And with the experienced Chris Hempsey and Greg McDougall filling the remaining middle order spaces there is considerable depth in the Greenock batting line-up.

Saturday's trip to Kilmarnock could be a defining match in the 2022 season. If Greenock return with a win then promotion back to the Premier Division in just one season will have been given a huge boost and the gap between second and third top positions will have been significantly widened.

The match will start at the usual time of 12 noon.

The Glenpark XI are at home to Renfrew's 3rd XI on Saturday and will be looking to build upon their fine 10-wicket win last week against Galloway 2nd XI. Skipper Jayaraj 'Peter Raj' Janampally is in a rich vein of form with the bat and more of the same will see the team well on their way to another victory. The teams have already met this season with Renfrew coming out on top but it is expected that they will not be able to field as strong a side this week.


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