Greenock's winning run continues at Irvine

Irvine vs Greenock 1st XI
WDCU CSL First Division
Saturday 21st May 2022

Greenock 1st XI 195 HR Briggs 44; LJ Lubbe 5 for 37
Irvine 124 SJ Avontuur 74; RA Walker 6 for 18


Greenock continued their fine start to the First Division league programme with a 71 run win over Irvine at the Ayrshire club's Marress ground. It was the Glenpark team's third consecutive league win and keeps them flying high at the top of the league table.

However, the win was delayed thanks to a last wicket partnership between the Irvine club's South African paid coach Sammy-Joe Avontuur and last man Nasibullah Safi. The pair came together at the end of the 26th over with the home side looking down and out on 67 for 9 and proceeded to deny the Greenock bowling attack for fourteen overs. Avontuur and Safi added 57 runs to give their team a reasonably respectable total before Sam Sanghera, in his second spell of bowling, ended their resistance with a well taken return catch to dismiss the South African coach for 74.

Put into bat, Greenock opened with Tom Nicholson and Jamie Nowell. The pair made a cautious start to the innings scoring just eight runs from the first four overs. By the midpoint of the eighth over the score had moved on to 37 largely due to some less than accurate bowling.

It was then that Greenock were dealt the blow of losing Nicholson to a LBW decision. Last Saturday's top scorer was removed for just 15 runs by South African amateur medium pace bowler Leander Lubbe.

But in stark contrast to recent seasons when a key batsman was removed early on in the innings, Greenock's batting line-up dug in and worked patiently to build a good total.

Harry Briggs and Jamie Nowell put on 30 runs for the second wicket before Nowell was caught for 19 off the bowling of Safi.

Ryan Walker then joined Briggs and a good partnership was developing quite nicely when Walker was bowled by Owens for 20 with the score on 106. This brought Gregor Chambers to the middle and yet another partnership was going well when Chambers mistimed a shot and was well caught by Conway for 15. The score was now 139 for 4.

A mini collapse did occur at this point in the innings. Four more wickets fell and just eleven runs were added to leave Greenock in a slightly precarious position on 150 for 8. The last of these wickets was Harry Briggs who had batted for 34 overs and faced 110 balls for 44 runs. It was an important 'knock' and held the innings together.

The task of pushing on towards 200 fell to Sam Sanghera and Cammy Calder. And they did a fine job. Thirty two runs were added for the ninth wicket. Sanghera was the man out caught off the bowling of Avontuur for 18

Cammy Calder batting at number 10 in the Greenock line-up played a number of sparkling shots in his innings of 23 not out as Greenock ended their innings on 195 in the 50th over.

Irvine's previous two league scores of 59 against Stenhousemuir and 79 against Drumpellier were not indicative of a side which might challenge Greenock's total. And so it proved for most of the home side's innings.

Greenock made their first breakthrough when Ryan Rogers (12) was caught by Chris Hempsey off the bowling of Gregor Chambers with the score on just 19. Then, just two runs later, his opening partner Mo Alam (6) was caught by wicket-keeper Lukas Fischer-Keogh off the bowling of Sam Sanghera.

The introduction of Ryan Walker into the Greenock bowling attack heralded an almost total collapse in the Irvine batting line-up. The Aussie amateur removed six of the home batsmen in his ten overs as the innings collapsed to 67 for 9 at the end of the 26th over.

Walker trapped Lubbe, Deas and Owens all LBW and clean bowled Neil, Lynn and McCallum. He returned the excellent bowling figures of 10 overs, 6 wickets for just 18 runs. He now tops the First Division bowling stats with 14 wickets at an average of 4.71.

The last wicket stand between Avontuur and Safi, which put on 57 runs, was no more than a frustration for Greenock before Sam Sanghera caught and bowled Avontuur who had batted very positively for his 74 runs.

Greenock now face the team who may well be their First Division title contenders if the early season current form of both teams is maintained across the summer. Like Greenock, Stenhousemuir have won all of their league matches to date. So next Saturday's encounter at Glenpark between the top two in the league should be an interesting one.