GREENOCK travel through to Bothwell Policies to face 2011 Scottish Cup champions Uddingston in a Cricket Scotland League Premier Division (West) fixture on Saturday.
Neither side has made a good start to the 2012 season and both have yet to gain a league win. So, for one of the sides, the match could be the catalyst to some improved league performances and a move up the table.
Last Saturday’s reversal at Ayr will have given Greenock a number of areas to work on in training during this week. In particular, a more disciplined bowling attack will be being looked for in order to reduce the impact of extras on to the opposition total and also a sharper performance from the team in the field will be demanded by captain Ryan Begley. The team must also seek to take advantage of any early breakthroughs which are achieved and be able to put opposition batsmen under pressure in order to build a momentum which sees further wickets fall.
In the Greenock batting department, there were some positive signs of players gaining confidence at the crease. Shailesh Prabhu scored a fine 50, Alex Baum looked comfortable for most of his innings of 43 and Richie Berrington showed his international class whilst compiling his 31 runs. However, it is substantial partnerships which Greenock must learn to compile if significant totals are to be set for opposition to chase, or if the team is to be able to overtake large scores itself.
South African pro Mpho Sekhoto is settling in and, as the damp, cold weather gives way this week to something more akin to what he is used to back home, it is to be hoped that he will come good with a big score. Mpho has looked to be a class batsman in the few innings which he has played to date but the speed of the wickets has been an issue for him. At Bothwell Policies, the wicket is normally a firm and fast one and the outfield gives full value when good shots are played. Sekhoto, if he can get in, may well find the conditions suit him and that runs come flowing. Both he and Greenock supporters will be hoping so.
Uddingston, despite having had a less good start to the season than might have been expected, have a number of very potent players in their line-up. Celebrated former Scotland international and now club groundsman, Paul Hoffman, still has the potential to be a significant threat with both bat and ball, however, he has been out of the Uddy side in recent weeks and may not be in their team on Saturday. Rising star and now regular Scottish internationalist Calum MacLeod will be the home side’s main danger man. He has the ability to score quickly and has had success for the Saltires in recent weeks with both bat and ball. For his club, MacLeod has already posted some good scores in 2012 and, last Saturday against McCrea West, scored 47 runs and put in an impressive bowling performance taking 5 for 33 from his ten overs. Among others whom Greenock will need to watch out for in the Uddingston team include BARS Priyardashana, Gavin Bradley, Amir Gul and Ricky Bawa.
Disappointingly, Greenock have been informed by Cricket Scotland that they will not be allowed to bring in a replacement for Overseas Amateur, Craig Schlebusch, who recently returned home to South Africa for personal reasons. This decision is a major blow to Greenock and comes despite the fact that Schlebusch had not played a single league match for the Glenparkers. With many other sides benefiting from both a professional and an overseas amateur in their ranks, giving their teams an extra strength and an added dimension, Greenock will be at a disadvantage for the remainder of the season due to no fault of their own. Players will therefore need to lift their individual game in order to overcome this unfortunate circumstance.
Greenock’s team for the match against Uddingston at Bothwell Policies will be: Ryan Begley (capt), Alex Baum, Richie Berrington, Neil Flack, Chris Hempsey, Jonathan Hempsey, Waleed Jamal, Greg McDougall, Shailesh Prabhu, Sam Sanghera, Mpho Sekhoto. The match starts at noon.
Greenock 2nd XI (Glenpark) host Uddingston 2nd XI (Bothwell) at Glenpark in the Premier Division West Reserve League on Saturday afternoon with a 1pm start. The team will be from : Kevin Flack (capt), Reiss Armstrong, Kieran Begley, Jack Bushfield, Aidan Forrest, Niall Forrest, Duncan Godsman, Brian Roberts, Mark Robertson, Dave Sharma, Sehmat Singh, Kieran Wylie.
Sunday’s 3rd XI (Hillend) WDCU Sunday League fixture has been postponed at the request of opponents Ferguslie and is to be re-arranged for later in the season.