Forty Club enjoy a winning debut at Glenpark

Greenock Sunday (Hillend) XI v XL Club
Sunday 13th August 2023

XL Club 144 for 9 N Grauf 48
Greenock Sunday (Hillend) XI 134 RP Mountford 45; SS Sanghera 3 for 9, DC Sharma 3 for 20


The two teams turned up at Glenpark on Sunday with a degree of trepidation: there had been a lot of rain in the preceding 24 hours and an iffy forecast, but there was great enthusiasm to get the much-anticipated fixture played. The hosts worked tirelessly to get the wicket playable and the start was pushed back an hour to 2pm, reduced from 40 to 35 overs-per-innings.

XL Club captain Shailesh Prabhu elected to bat first and, after a picture of the two teams in front of the pavilion, it was revealed that the fixture was made in celebration of Shailesh's 50th birthday - Shailesh having played regularly for both teams in recent years.

Tim Preston-Jones opened with the man of the moment, and pair got off to a good start against the bowling attack of Sean Fischer-Keogh and Usman Mansoor. Having put on 30 runs, Ayran Sanghera spoiled the party by getting Shailesh to play on - so there would be no double fifty celebration. Tim was joined by Naite Grauf, taking the score to 61 before the former was caught by Greenock skipper Greg McDougall off professional Rahul Dalal. This brought the second Greenock / Forty Club player, Nikhil Kadyan, to the crease. The left-hander struggled against Rahul's off-spin, and eventually fell to him, again caught by Greg, this time at first slip.

Kevin Ferrie then joined Naite for the biggest partnership of the innings until the latter, with an eye on the diminishing overs left, was caught, unluckily two short of a deserved 50. Thereafter there was a flurry of wickets as the XL Club tried to post a challenging total. Dave Sharma, Peter Robertson and Javaid Ashraf all fell cheaply, before Sam Sanghera joined Kevin to add some much-needed runs. They both perished in the final overs leaving Bob Angus to play out the innings - though he was unable to repeat the lusty sixes he had hit at the ground earlier in the season. The final total was 144 for 9, some runs short of what the visitors would have like to have scored.

After the break, Greenock openers Tom Forrest and Sudeep Chaudhury started much like the XL Club, against the seam attack of Bob and Dave, but things changed in Dave's fourth over. Tom made a misjudgement and left a ball that hit the top of off stump and, in the same over, Chirag Pandher fell LBW. Soon after, Bob bowled Aryan, and Dave had further success against PJ Bryceland, leaving the home team in some trouble at 48 for 4.

Things didn't improve much when Sam joined the seam attack. Sudeep, having survived a couple of chances, finally succumbed by nicking Sam into the waiting gloves of 'keeper Colin Neill. Sam then removed Ciaran Prabhu first ball and, when he also captured the prized wicket of Rahul, the visitors were well on top with the score on 65-7. It was then that Shailesh turned to his plethora of spin bowlers, with Javaid and Jerry Smith joining the attack. Unfortunately it was at this time that the rain began, making it difficult to grip the ball but, in the true spirit of the way the game was being played, the teams were not for coming off.

This was just as well as veteran Rod Mountford was set to take the match to an exciting finish. Usman survived some chances to add 20 runs with him before being bowled by Jerry, but it was when he was joined by Sean that the outcome of the game became unpredictable. Regular boundaries meant that the run rate was never a problem, it all boiled down to whether the Forty Club could get the last two wickets before Greenock reached their target.

Naite and Nikhil came on to continue the spin attack as the batting pair added almost 50 runs, before Sean managed to edge a ball off Nikhil, which Colin again took cleanly. Rod was batting well and it was still on for him to win the game with few lusty blows, but whilst going for one of these off Naite he was well caught on the boundary by Sam, the team falling 11 runs short of the target.

It was a fantastic match and a fitting celebration for Shailesh. Afterwards there were speeches given in tribute to him, by Peter Hempsey for Greenock, and Colin for the Forty Club, both expressing hopes that the contest between the teams should become a regular fixture. A memento presentation was made to Shailesh by Sam, who had worked hard to get this fixture organised, before the teams enjoyed a barbecue provided by Rod (being frequently touted to join the XL Club after his batting performance), assisted by Vishal, Tom and Sean.

Further thanks go to Liam McCahill for providing accompanying beats for the match, Peter Hempsey for umpiring, and a special mention to Emily Norris, who had also been heavily involved with the match preparation with Sam, but was unable to take part on the day. The reason? A deserved call up to represent at the Women Super Series. Congratulations Emily.