GREENOCK host Ayrshire side Prestwick at Glenpark on Saturday afternoon and will be hoping that their third fixture of this season’s Premier Division league programme will bring good fortune after the disappointments associated with the opening two league fixtures against Drumpellier and West of Scotland.
Prestwick sit proudly at the top of the Premier Division table with two wins from two matches played. They are also past winners of the Premier Division title (2017) and will be a difficult side for Greenock to overcome.
Last weekend, Prestwick gained a fine win over bottom side East Kilbride scoring an impressive 243 for the loss of 8 wickets with the Lanarkshire side mounting a decent reply of 187 all out. Fraser Macdonald scored a very fine 112 as he provided the key innings for his team as they built their match-winning score.
Two weeks ago against Poloc, Prestwick opened their league season with a win over the Glasgow side at Shawholm. But it was not an easy victory, despite Poloc only managing 68 all out. Prestwick struggled with the bat and only just got the win with seven wickets down. Macdonald was once again their key batsman with 38 vital runs.
In the bowling department there is little doubt where the major strength lies. Sachin Chaudhary, formerly professional with Irvine CC, is a hugely important player for Prestwick. In the match against Poloc he took 5 wickets for just 12 runs and last Saturday against East Kilbride was once again the pick of the Prestwick attack with 4 wickets for 27 runs.
Notwithstanding Prestwick’s impressive start to the league campaign, Greenock could, and should, have been sitting side by side the Ayrshire club at the top of the table, as both of their opening games ought to have been won. Only catastrophic batting late in both games has denied the locals that position.
In the field, Greenock have put in two impressive bowling displays to dismiss their opponents for what must be considered low scores from which matches would, in most circumstances, be won quite comfortably.
Saurabh Bandekar, Greenock’s professional from India, has begun his second season at Glenpark in fine style. In just two Premier Division matches he has notched up a total of ten wickets including a six-wicket haul at West of Scotland last Saturday. Bandekar’s ten wickets in two games represents over a third of the total wickets he took (28) in all of last season’s Premier Division matches, and Greenock supporters will be hoping he can continue this rich vein of bowling form in the weeks ahead.
His opening bowling partner, Jonathan Hempsey, has had a successful two games too. Four wickets against Drumpellier was followed by three more against West and, like Bandekar, Hempsey has captured a third of the total wickets he took in all Western District Cricket Union (WDCU) Premier matches in 2018 (20).
More of the same from these two spearheading Greenock’s bowling attack will keep giving the team chances to win matches and it is important that the batsmen step up to the mark and take advantage of such opportunities.
Neil Flack, who was last season’s WDCU Premier Division top wicket-taker with 32 wickets, has had little to do with the ball so far this season so dominant have Bandekar and Hempsey been, but has still picked up a wicket in each match. Unfortunately, Flack is missing from the side this weekend and it is likely that Chris Hempsey will be given the role of captain of the side against Prestwick.
Sean Fischer-Keogh is gaining in experience and could be an important change bowler for the Glenpark team. He has developed considerable pace in his bowling and is certainly a young player to watch. Already he has played for Scotland at the Under-15 age group and is now part of the Scotland Under-17 squad. Others who will be likely to be called upon in the bowling line-up include Sam Sanghera, Greg McDougall and Rod Mountford.
However, it is the team batting performance which must turn up on Saturday if Greenock are to gain the win which much of their play so far this season has deserved. Runs on the board will be the factor which will gain the points. Greenock have the players to overcome Prestwick, but they need to show confidence in their abilities.
Cricket matches can turn in favour of one team or another in the space of just one or two balls. A wicket or a boundary can be enough to suddenly alter the balance of play. If Greenock can show resilience and confidence, then a win against Prestwick can be achieved this Saturday.
Greenock’s team for Saturday’s Premier Division match against Prestwick at Glenpark, which will start at noon, will likely be: CJK Hempsey (Capt), S Bandekar, Z Barrenechea, S Fischer-Keogh, T Forrest, JPC Hempsey, RP Mountford, J. Nowell, SS Pandher, SS Sanghera, E Stewart.
The Greenock 2nd XI (Glenpark) travel to play Kilmarnock 2nd XI (Kirkstyle). The team for this match will be from: Al Calder, PJ Bryceland, A Calder, C Calder, S Chaudhary, L Fischer Keogh, L McCahill, E Norris, PE Robertson, A Sanghera, D Sharma, N Stanton.
In midweek, Greenock 1st XI lost out to Kelburne on the very last ball of the match at Whitehaugh in the opening McCulloch Cup group match. It finished Greenock 101 for 5, Kelburne 104 for 8 with a boundary off the last ball of the game.
The Greenock 2nd XI had better fortune winning their opening Western Cup group stage match against Renfrew at Glenpark on Tuesday evening — Glenpark XI 128 for 4, Renfrew 100 for 9.
Greenock Cricket Club is sponsored by Cleaning Supplies 4U