Greenock achieve promotion after resounding win over Hillhead

Greenock 1st XI vs Hillhead
WDCU CSL First Division
Saturday 27th August 2022

Greenock 1st XI 235 for 6 RA Walker 121, GM Chambers 41, LC Fischer-Keogh 30; R Jones 3 for 57
Hillhead 39 GM Chambers 8 for 22


Back Row - Lukas Fischer-Keogh, Ryan Walker, Harry Briggs, Jonathan Hempsey, Chris Hempsey, Sam Sanghera,

Front Row - Aryan Sanghera, Tom Nicholson, Greg McDougall (Capt), Gregor Chambers, Shailesh Prabhu

Greenock's aim of returning to the Premier Division after just one season in the First Division was fulfilled at Glenpark on Saturday. The visitors for the last match of the season, Hillhead, were simply outclassed as Greenock won by the massive margin of 196 runs.

Man of the Match for Greenock was Gregor Chambers. He scored 41 runs in a fourth wicket partnership of 128 runs with Ryan Walker and then demolished the Hillhead batting line-up with a career-best analysis of 8 wickets for just 22 runs.

The last day of the season dawned with various possibilities regarding whether Greenock in second place or Kilmarnock in third top spot would gain the second promotion position. Only 2.14% separated the two teams before the start of the last round of league matches on Saturday.

In the event, Kilmarnock lost to fourth placed Drumpellier and Greenock cruised to a massive win over Hillhead.

For Greenock's opponents, Hillhead, the loss of the match was a double blow. They had arrived at Glenpark knowing that a win could keep alive their hopes of remaining in the First Division. But instead, the Hughenden team went down to their heaviest defeat of the season and the result confirmed their relegation to the Second Division.

Yet it all began well for the Glasgow side. They won the toss, chose to insert Greenock and had opening batsman, Tom Nicholson, dismissed after just four balls had been bowled. The Aussie amateur got an edge to a ball from Ross Jones and was caught by wicketkeeper Jack Holland.

Greenock's second wicket went down with the score on 30 when Harry Briggs was bowled by Jones and Hillhead were in buoyant mood.

But a third wicket partnership of 47 runs by Lucas Fischer-Keogh and Ryan Walker put Greenock into a better position by the time Fischer-Keogh was bowled by Farndale in the 21st over for 30.

Greenock then took complete control of the match as Ryan Walker and Gregor Chambers settled in to a fine batting partnership which produced 128 runs. Both players displayed an array of fine shots as the home score passed 100 and then 150 with no sign that the visitors would break the partnership.

Walker, in particular, scored with ease while making sure that he kept his wicket intact. Chambers was content to play a supporting role as the pair batted Greenock into a very commanding position.

The Aussie amateur brought up his century in the 45th over, By this time Greenock's total had passed the 200 mark and the visitors were looking more than a little weary after a long afternoon in the hot sunshine. But with the second ball of the 46th over Hillhead did make their long awaited breakthrough.

Keen to add quick runs as the innings neared completion, Chambers came down the wicket looking to loft a delivery from Keeshav Soni back over the bowler's head only to have his middle stump knocked back. He had scored a very valuable 41 runs.

Hillhead gained a fifth wicket in the 48th over when Chris Hempsey sent his shot towering backwards at the Fox Street end of the ground only for Hillhead wicketkeeper Jack Holland to take a fine catch by running half way to the boundary.

In the 49th over, Ryan Walker's fine innings of 121 ended when he was caught by Lucas Farndale low down at cover. He had scored 14 boundaries in what was his third century of the summer.

At the close of their 50 over innings Greenock had reached 235 for the loss of six wickets, setting Hillhead a very challenging total. Ross Jones with 3 for 57 from 10 overs was Hillhead's top bowler.

The challenge facing Hillhead was made all the more difficult when their opening batsman, Paul Bartlett, was clean bowled for 2 by Gregor Chambers with just the fifth ball of the first over after the tea break.

In the third over, Chambers clean bowled Hasan Azhar (1) and followed that by trapping Jack Holland (6) LBW in the fifth over as the visitors slumped to 20 for the loss of 3 wickets.

Chambers continued his one man demolition of the visitors' batting as his pace and accuracy proved too much for both Lucas Farndale and Ross Jones who had their stumps knocked back in the ninth over.

First five wickets all to Chambers as Hillhead were deep in trouble with their score having only moved on to 34.

Jonathan Hempsey, who had opened the bowling with Chambers, then joined the wicket-fest when he had Kumar trapped LBW. And after Chambers picked up yet another wicket when he bowled Jared Bartlett for a 'duck', Hempsey had opener Shehroz Mahmood caught by Greg McDougall at deep mid off for 22.

In the thirteenth over, Chambers wrapped up his one man demolition of Hillhead's batting when he clean bowled both Keeshav Soni and Jacques Grosvenor and ended the visitors' innings on just 39.

Chambers capped a superb day with a career best bowling performance of 8 wickets for 22 runs to add to his season best innings of 41 runs earlier in the afternoon. Of his eight wickets, seven were bowled with the other an LBW which demonstrated his accuracy.

The all-rounder's performance overshadowed what in most other days would have been considered the match-winning innings of 121 by Ryan Walker.

Greenock now look forward to a return to the top table of cricket in the west of Scotland next season.

PJ Bryceland (back row left) and Jamie Nowell (Back row right) join the team for the celebrations