GREENOCK are aiming for their first Premier Division win of the 2019 season this Saturday when they host Ferguslie at Glenpark.
It is yet another tough test for the Glenpark team, as the Paisley side are the defending champions, and the encounter comes hard on the heels of matches against Prestwick, champions in 2017, and Uddingston, the bookies’ favourites for the title this year. Greenock now need to show that they are a side fit to remain in the top division and the next few weeks will almost certainly show whether that is likely to be achieved.
Greenock’s form to date this season has been to some extent disappointing and yet in some other respects quite encouraging. Almost all sides have struggled against the Glenpark team’s bowling attack. Drumpellier, West of Scotland and even Uddingston have been unable to rack up totals of any real size, and if only Greenock’s batting had been of better quality in each of these games then the points would surely have been ‘in the bank’ for the locals.
Quite curiously, in the one Premier Division match in which Greenock batted first (against Prestwick) the locals put together their best batting performance scoring 191 but then failed to bowl out the opposition.
Both batting and bowling will need to come good if Greenock are to entertain hopes of a win against their Paisley rivals. The Meikleriggs side, while perhaps not quite the force they were last year, are nevertheless a very strong side and Greenock will need to be at their best. Riyaad Henry has taken on the captaincy from Jamie Carruthers and both will be important players for Ferguslie. Also key for the visitors will be Gregor Preston-Jones and David Stafford, both of whom have the potential to score significant runs.
For Greenock, professional Saurabh Bandekar will, as always, be a key player. He has performed consistently well for the side in the Saturday league matches and is currently the top run-scorer in the Premier Division and also one of the top wicket-takers. A continuation of that good form will certainly be crucial, but Bandekar must get support from others, especially with the bat, if Greenock are to emerge with a win.
Last season, Greenock were the only team to beat Ferguslie as the Paisley side steam-rollered their way to the Premier Division title. The win was gained in fine style at Ferguslie’s own ground, Meikleriggs, as an excellent overall team performance brought the points back to Glenpark. Neil Flack top scored as he hit form at the right time with 76 valuable runs, and he was supported by numerous others also chipping in. And Saurabh Bandekar was a hero with the ball grabbing a hat- trick in his 4 wickets for 44 runs, while Jonathan Hempsey 4 for 43 and Flack 2 for 31 also did well in the Greenock bowling attack.
Prior to that match, the Paisley side had played and won all five of their league matches and had lost only once in all competitive games played up to that point in the season. Greenock had won only one league match.
Compare that with this season. The very unsettled weather has impacted significantly on Premier Division matches. Ferguslie have been particularly badly affected and have played just two out of the first six scheduled league fixtures while Greenock have played four. Indeed the Paisley side have not played a Saturday league fixture since the 11 May.
Greenock‘s side for Saturday will once again be missing some regular 1st XI players — Chris Hempsey and Shailesh Prabhu are unavailable because of work commitments while Greg McDougall is out with torn ankle ligaments. And uncertainty still hangs over whether Jonathan Hempsey will have recovered sufficiently from his foot injury to play.
Perhaps the biggest question for Saturday is if the weather will improve to allow the match to be played, as the forecast for Saturday is not looking good.
Greenock’s team for the match, which will start at noon, is expected to be from: S Bandekar, Z Barrenechea, C Calder, L Fischer-Keogh, S Fischer-Keogh, ND Flack, CJK Hempsey, JPC Hempsey, RP Mountford, J Nowell, CS Pandher, SS Pandher, SS Sanghera, E Stewart.
On Sunday, Greenock head to Edinburgh for their Scottish Cup first round match. Once again the test could hardly be tougher. The draw has pitched the locals against top East Premier Division side Grange who are one of the favourites to lift the trophy.
The Edinburgh side boasts a number of players with international experience and, with the match being played at The Grange, which is Scotland’s main international venue, the advantage certainly lies with the men from the east.
The Greenock 2nd XI (Glenpark) has no game this weekend.
In midweek, weather once again led to cricket being disrupted. On Tuesday evening, Greenock 2nd XI had their Western Cup match against Vale of Leven at Glenpark cancelled and on Wednesday evening, Greenock’s home match with Kelburne in the McCulloch (West League) Cup at Glenpark was abandoned almost halfway through the visitors’ innings with Greenock looking likely to win.
Greenock batted first in the match which was reduced to 16 overs per side and scored 110 for the loss of 5 wickets. In reply, Kelburne were on 30 for the loss of 4 wickets after seven overs when play was halted.
So after the first four scheduled matches in this year’s group stage of the competition, Greenock have recorded one win, one loss and have had one match abandoned, along with one match cancelled.
Greenock Cricket Club is sponsored by Cleaning Supplies 4U