1st XI throw away chance of victory over Clydesdale

Greenock 1st XI v Clydesdale
WDCU Premiership One
Saturday 3rd June 2023

Clydesdale 215 for 8 K Dhami 69, CA Young 43; GM Chambers 4 for 42
Greenock 1st XI 182 RR Dalal 71, T Polkinghorne 40


On Saturday at Glenpark, the 1st XI missed out on a great opportunity to beat one of Scotland's top clubs and gain a second Western Premiership One win. With victory in their sight, the team's batting imploded and the chance of 25 points was lost. The disappointment amongst players and supporters was palpable.

The team had been on top for much of the match and the run chase was going very much according to plan. But a period of just ten minutes of play shattered what had seemed a likely win for the homesters. In that time, they went from 134 for the loss of just two wickets and needing just 81 runs to win with 17 overs remaining, to 144 for 5 after 35.3 overs with three key batsmen dismissed and the innings in total disarray.

On the warmest afternoon of the season, Clydesdale won the pre-match toss of the coin and not surprisingly opted to bat first. Their opening pair of Nick Pyne and Ali Khan began cautiously and after six overs had managed to score just eight runs.

A flurry of run-scoring, including three boundaries, in the following two overs took the score on to twenty two but at that point Nick Pyne attempted to find a fourth quick boundary only to be caught by Tom Forrest off the bowling of Jonathan Hempsey.

And then in the very next over Khan gave Gregor Chambers a return catch to put the visitors two wickets down.

A brilliant one-handed diving catch by wicketkeeper Lukas Fischer-Keogh put Clydesdale in a spot of bother in the eleventh over. Sheryar Awan glanced a delivery from Chambers down the leg side expecting a boundary only for Fischer-Keogh to end his brief stay out in the middle.

Clydesdale captain Craig Young and Kallum Dhami then settled in to build a fine fourth wicket partnership which yielded 102 runs and put the Titwood team back into the game.

The partnership ended with the re-introduction to the home bowling attack of Gregor Chambers. With just the fifth ball of his second spell, Chambers lured Young into an off drive which he failed to properly execute and he sent a relatively straightforward catch to Jonathan Hempsey at mid -off. Young was out for 43.

His dismissal left the visitors on 136 but did not put an end to Clydesdale's run-scoring. Dhami and new batsman Daniel Cairns maintained a steady run-rate adding 26 runs to the total in five overs before Cairns (11) was caught by Chambers from the bowling of Rahul Dalal.

Two further quick wickets were then picked up, including Dhami out caught by Dalal for 69 off just the second ball bowled by captain Greg McDougall. The dismissals put Clydesdale on 176 for 7.

With just less than six overs remaining to be bowled before the end of Clydesdale's 50 over innings, the attack would have hoped to keep the innings total to under 200 and finish off the visitors tail end batters.

Instead, just one more wicket was picked up while Clydesdale added a further 39 runs to take their final score to 215 for the loss of 8 wickets with Ihtesham Ul Haq unbeaten on 22. Later events would show how crucial these runs were.

Gregor Chambers was the top bowler, taking 4 wickets for 42 runs from his10 overs.

After the tea interval, the innings began with Tom Polkinghorne and Chris Hempsey providing the fifth different opening pairing for the 1st XI in the six Western Premiership One matches played so far.

The new partnership failed to get the eleven off to the positive start hoped for and ended with only 14 runs scored when Hempsey (7) was adjudged LBW in the seventh over.

A second wicket went down with the score on 26 when Harry Briggs was given out caught behind the wicket by Galling off the bowling of Cairns.

Then just like Clydesdale in their innings, the team found a fine partnership between Tom Polkinghorne and Rahul Dalal. The pair batted with authority and seemed at ease against the visitors' bowling adding 108 runs from 23 overs and putting their team well on track for a fine win.

But such is the game of cricket that just one ball and/or one shot can change the outcome of a match. And so it was in this game. The ball was the last of the 33rd over and the shot was by Tom Polkinghorne.

The tall Aussie had scored 40 runs and had batted well in support of the in-form Rahul Dalal. But looking to keep the run rate moving along Polkinghorne tried to drive Awan through the offside only to find the ball looping off his bat to the waiting hands of Zeeshan Bashir at backward point.

Then in the very next over, a mix up between Dalal and Fischer-Keogh ended with the latter being run out before he had even faced a ball. The loss of Fischer-Keogh who had played a brilliant midweek innings of 70 against Renfrew was a second big blow for the home side.

And just nine balls later, a disastrous ten minutes was topped off with the dismissal of Dalal. The Indian pro, who looked to be heading towards a third consecutive league century, attempted to sweep Cairns to the clubhouse boundary only to get a top edge and the ball skied to Kallum Dhani who took a fairly routine catch. Dalal had scored 71.

So from a quite commanding position, from which they could, and probably should, have gone on to win the match, the locals' run chase was now in disarray.

Of the remaining batsmen, only Gregor Chambers with 22 made any impact as the game slipped away along with the remaining wickets and the team were bowled out for 182 with the first ball of the 48th over.

There were numerous fine performances by the home players in this game, but the team will need to learn how to win matches if survival in the top league is to be achieved.