GREENOCK welcome Irvine to Glenpark on Saturday as their effort to secure a return to the Premier Division continues.
They go into the match sitting in second place in the First Division table, having won eight of the nine games that they have played so far.
Currently Stenhousemuir are the pace-setters, having won all 11 games that they have played, and it looks increasingly likely that they have sewn up one of the promotion places.
That leaves Greenock, Kilmarnock and Drumpellier to fight it out for the other place.
Irvine come to Glenpark on the back of a mauling at the hands of Stenhousemuir, who scored a massive 353 for 5 before dismissing the Ayrshire team for just 99.
They sit comfortably in fifth position, having won five and lost four of their games.
But it is noticeable that all of their wins have come against teams below them in the table and they have not really come close to beating any of the sides above them.
They do have a couple of very useful South Africans in their line-up, both of whom made their mark when Irvine and Greenock met at the start of the season.
Leander Lubbe took 5 for 37 and Sammy Avontuur scored a fighting 74 out of a total of 124. With both of them in the top ten run-scorers in the league, it is clear that the Greenock attack will want to dismiss them as quickly as possible. Should they do so, then all the evidence would suggest that Irvine will struggle to make a challenging total.
Greenock have of course their two young Australians in their side, Tom Nicholson and Ryan Walker. Both have made significant contributions throughout the season and were instrumental in last week’s comfortable win over East Kilbride.
Nicholson is currently the second-highest run-scorer in the league with 480 runs, while Walker leads the way in the bowling stats with 35 wickets.
There would appear to be more depth to Greenock’s team than there is with Irvine. Harry Briggs, Gregor Chambers and Lukas Fischer-Keogh have all shown their ability with the bat this season while Chambers has also been a fine opening bowler.
Greenock will be able to field a stronger side this week than they did against East Kilbride. Although Harry Briggs is unavailable, back into contention for a place in the team come Chris and Jonathan Hempsey, Rod Mountford, Jamie Nowell and Cammy Calder.
This is a match that Greenock not only need to win but one that they should win if the form book plays out.
The squad from which the final selection will be made is: GJ McDougall, CS Calder, GM Chambers, LC Fischer-Keogh, CJK Hempsey, JPC Hempsey, RP Mountford, TJ Nicholson, JM Nowell, CS Pandher, A Sanghera, EA Stewart, RA Walker. Scorer: R McGregor. The match will start at noon.
The Glenpark XI, Greenock’s second string, have not had their problems to seek this season in terms of availability. However, that should not be so much of a concern this week when they make the short trip to Gourock Park to play Inverclyde.
The first match between these two teams was called off because of a wet outfield and so this game will alone decide the bragging rights between the two teams. It should be a keenly contested game and Glenpark may well have their work cut out to record a victory over their local rivals.
Greenock Cricket Club is sponsored by Cleaning Supplies 4U