Greenock surrender top spot after heavy defeat to Drumpellier

Drumpellier vs Greenock 1st XI
WDCU CSL First Division
Saturday 6th August 2022

Drumpellier 293 for 3 S Jayathilake 134, N Austin 70*, G Shaw 44
Greenock 1st XI 168 RA Walker 34, CJK Hempsey 32; J Allison 3 for 36


Greenock's stay at the top of the Western District Cricket Union's First Division was short-lived. Having reached the top spot just a week ago following a fine win over the then league leaders Stenhousemuir, Greenock suffered just their second league defeat of the season at Coatbridge on Saturday.

Fourth top Drumpellier completely outplayed Greenock and inflicted a heavy defeat on the Glenparkers.

With Stenhousemuir and Kilmarnock both winning their matches, the loss to Drumpellier meant that Stenhousemuir (94.13%) return to the top of the league and Greenock (86.77%) slip back to second top with Kilmarnock (85.23%) hard on their heels in third position.

So, with just three matches left in the league programme it is still all to play for in the race to win the two promotion places to reach the Premier Division.

Kilmarnock have arguably the toughest run-in with matches against fifth placed Irvine(A), then Stenhousemuir(H) and Drumpellier(H). Greenock have what might be considered the easiest set of fixtures against Renfrew (H), GHK (A) and Hillhead (H) all of whom occupy positions in the lower half of the league table. League leaders Stenhousemuir have Hillhead (A), Kilmarnock (A) and East Kilbride (H).

On Saturday, against Drumpellier at their Langloan ground in Coatbridge, the game against the Lanarkshire side did not go at all to plan for Greenock as they went down to a very heavy defeat.

Drumpellier won the toss and opted to bat. It was a decision which proved very fruitful for the Coatbridge side as they racked up their highest score of the season, 293 for the loss of just 3 wickets.

Prior to this match, Greenock had bowled out each of their league opponents, except Hillhead, in under 40 overs. But on Saturday it was a very tired Greenock side which left the field after 50 overs having conceded almost 300 runs and only captured three wickets.

An opening maiden over from Greenock's pace bowler Gregor Chambers did not give any warning of what was to come. And when Drumpellier went one wicket down for 30 runs towards the end of the seventh over when opener Ross Heginbottom (24) was LBW to Chambers, Greenock felt well pleased with the start to the match.

A second wicket partnership of 60 runs between opener Gordon Shaw and Drumpellier's West Indian amateur Nic Austin laid a sound foundation to the home team's innings. It ended in the 25th over when Shaw (44) was caught by Gregor Chambers off the bowling of Ryan Walker.

The wicket brought together Drumpellier's two overseas players, amateur Austin and Sri Lankan professional Supeshala Jayathilake and it proved the turning point in the match.

With half of the allotted 50 overs still to be played, Austin and Jayathilake settled in and took the Coatbridge team's score to 120 after 30 overs.

At this point, one of Greenock's Aussie amateurs, Tom Nicholson had completed his ten overs and in the remaining twenty overs the lack of depth in the Greenock bowling became badly exposed as Austin and Jayathilake went on a run-scoring rampage.

The last ten overs in particular, was a period of carnage as 110 runs were added to the Drumps total. Sri Lankan pro Jayathilake reached his highest score of the season before being bowled by Ewan Stewart with the first ball of the last over. He had scored 134 runs from just 84 balls and had hit 13 boundaries and six 'sixes'. Jayathilake's innings took his total for the league to 611 and moved him into the position of second highest run-scorer in the First Division.

Barbadian amateur Austin was not out 70 from 119 balls as the Drumpellier innings closed on a massive 293 for the loss of 3 wickets.

After the break, needing to score at 6 runs per over from their 50 overs, Greenock made a positive start to their innings with Tom Nicholson scoring 20 runs from the first three overs. However, by the start of the ninth over the run rate had dropped back to just four runs per over.

Recognising the need to up the tempo, Nicholson (26) attempted to clip left arm pace bowler Darren Pryde to the leg side boundary only to find the hands of Ross Heginbottom at square leg.

Just one over later and Nicholson's opening batting partner Lukas Fischer-Keogh was LBW to Mohsin Khan to leave Greenock 33 for 2 wickets after 10 overs.

A third wicket partnership of 52 runs between Harry Briggs and Ryan Walker took Greenock to 85 before Briggs (18) was bowled by Jayathilake with the third ball of the 23rd over. And the Sri Lankan pro picked up his second wicket the very next ball when Gregor Chambers was caught by Nathan Allison.

With six wickets remaining, and 26 overs still to be bowled, Greenock required to score another 209 runs at a rate of 8 runs per over.

It was an unlikely task. And when Greenock's in-form batsman, Aussie amateur Ryan Walker (34) was caught by Jayathilake in the 26th over from the bowling of Josh Allison, the score had only moved on to 94.

Drumpellier picked up a further three wickets when Nowell, Forrest and McDougall were all removed to put Greenock on 113 for the loss of eight wickets at the end of the 32nd over.

A ninth wicket partnership of 39 runs between Chris Hempsey (32) and Aryan Sanghera (18) provided some late runs for Greenock and helped to give the final score of 168 a better look than had earlier seemed likely. However, Drumpellier's margin of victory was still a massive 125 runs.

Greenock must now regroup and focus on the final three league matches of the season. The fine form of the season which has seen 11 wins from 13 matches completed is what needs to be taken forward so that promotion back to the Premier Division is achieved.