Greenock maintain winning run with victory over Irvine

Greenock 1st XI vs Irvine
WDCU CSL First Division
Saturday 16th July 2022

Irvine 141 LJ Lubbe 84*; TJ Nicholson 3 for 41
Greenock 1st XI 145 for 2 RA Walker 72*, LC Fischer-Keogh 39*


Another Saturday, another win for Greenock as they recorded their sixth victory in a row by defeating Irvine by 8 wickets at Glenpark and continued to chase down the league leaders Stenhousemuir in the race for the First Division title and promotion to the Premier Division

As last week, their opponents won the toss and elected to bat first, perhaps not wishing to bring upon themselves the hammering that they took the previous week when Stenhousemuir batted first and scored over 350 runs.

They certainly didn't hang around as opener Mahmood Alam took 14 over Gregor Chambers' first over. Greg McDougall bowled the second over, starting with a no ball and then conceding a boundary by McCallum. This fast start was brought to a quick halt as McCallum was caught by Ryan Walker with a sharp catch in the slips and then the dangerous Avontuur was trapped in front two balls later as he attempted to swing McDougall to the leg-side boundary.

Chambers then got into the action and enacted revenge for what had happened in the first over when he had Alam caught by Walker, a rather more straightforward chance this time. Irvine were now 19 for 3.

The Irvine professional, Leander Lubbe, was now at the crease and he announced himself with four successive boundaries off McDougall. He lost his partner Lynn when the latter chased a wide delivery from Chambers and only succeeded in edging the ball to Lukas Fischer-Keogh behind the stumps. In Chambers' 6th over, he was forced out of the attack with a foot injury and McDougall, who had previously taken himself off, finished off the over.

Lubbe continued to force the pace and after 10 overs, the score had reached 57 for 4 with the South African on 37. Dylan Neil was providing passive support to Lubbe but when the score reached 73 he could only hit Nicholson to Walker at mid-wicket and two runs later, Gregor Chambers took a superb diving catch at slip, where he was fielding to rest his foot, to remove Richard Wilson.

Lubbe and Mehrban Ali now formed a more lucrative partnership, putting on 41 for the 7th wicket before Nicholson claimed his third wicket having Ali caught by Chambers at slip, an easier chance this time. Jonathan Wilson was shortly afterwards bowled by Walker and by now it was just a case of how many runs Lubbe could eke out with the last two batsmen in tow. Another twenty runs were added before Owens was run out by Walker attempting to keep Lubbe on strike and finally Walker bowled Safi to end the Irvine innings for 141.

Tom Nicholson took 3 for 41 and there were two wickets apiece for Chambers, McDougall and Walker. Without Lubbe's efforts, Irvine would have struggled to reach 50. His was an innings full of fine strokes, hit with a lot of power.

Tom Nicholson and Jamie Nowell opened the innings for Greenock and aided by some indisciplined bowling, made a steady start. With the score on 28, Nicholson attempted to hit Safi over the top but was nonchalantly caught by Ali at long-on. Two runs later, Nowell, who was yet to get off the mark, drove uppishly at Ali and was caught in the gully by Lubbe.

Ryan Walker and Lukas Fischer-Keogh now came together and gradually got on top of the bowling, although the Australian survived an early stumping chance. After that, he did the bulk of the scoring while his young partner was content to give him support and ensure that no further wickets fell. The fifty was brought up in the eleventh over and just before the hundred was raised, Walker reached his fifty, scored at more or less a run a ball.

Irvine tried numerous bowling changes but to no avail. By now Fischer-Keogh was batting with confidence and matching his partner run for run and indeed it was the young wicket-keeper who scored the winning boundary to enable Greenock to achieve their second 8-wicket victory at Glenpark in succession. It was a fine partnership from the two players who both batted with great maturity as they put on 115 without being parted, Walker scoring 72 and his partner 39.

Other results in the division saw Stenhousemuir maintain their 100% record by defeating Drumpellier who are surely now out of contention for promotion while Kilmarnock had a fine win over Renfrew to keep on the tail of Greenock for second place.

Next week, Greenock are away to Poloc at Shawholm, a ground at which they have not had a great record in recent years although this year Poloc are in the throes of a relegation battle as they try to evade the drop into the Second Division.