FRESH from their first Premier Division win of the season, Greenock pitch up this Saturday afternoon at Glenpark against league leaders Clydesdale.
The match will be a top-versus-bottom encounter with Greenock hoping to create what, for many, would be a surprise win.
The team will be without Neil Flack, their top player and leading run-scorer, who is unavailable because of work commitments.
Flack, who was captain of the Scotland under-19 World Cup team in 2016, has had a terrific start to the season and has scored more than 200 runs in the four matches he has played. His top score to date is 87 not out against Langside and his average is 68.
Also missing through work commitments is Flack’s opening batting partner Jamie Nowell. Last Saturday the pair put on 81 runs for the first wicket and the previous Saturday at Dumfries, when Flack was again unavailable, Nowell and Shailesh Prabhu enjoyed an opening stand of 67 runs.
Prabhu and Harry Briggs may be the pair to whom skipper Greg McDougall looks for an opening partnership. Prabhu was a regular opening batsman for the team for a number of seasons and is experienced in the position and Harry Briggs, coming in at number three last Saturday, played a defiant, arguably match-winning role for the team, as he batted for over 70 balls for his 27 not out.
Availability of players week on week is a problem for Greenock, and other sides too, as work commitments, injuries and other issues impact on them. Greenock will also be missing Chirag Pandher, Sehmet Pandher, Jonathan Hempsey and Harry Weld-Forester.
Clydesdale are the only unbeaten team in the Premier Division with four wins from the four matches which they have completed. Last Saturday, the Titwood team were in a very commanding position against Langside, when rainfall of biblical proportions caused the abandonment of the match at Albert Park in Glasgow and possibly a fifth consecutive league win for the leaders.
The Clydesdale club have a large pool of players available and usually can field a strong, all-round
performing team. But they are probably not invincible. In their matches against Uddingston and Dumfries, the Titwood team bowled their opponents out for under 150 runs on each occasion but then made heavy weather of the run chase.
And against Prestwick, the Clydesdale batters were themselves bowled out for under 150 runs before their bowling attack rescued the occasion by dismissing the Ayrshire side for less than 120.
However two weeks ago, against West of Scotland at Titwood, the Clydesdale side scored more than 200 runs for the first time in an innings this season, and then won the match by keeping West to just 179 for the loss of nine wickets at the end of their allotted 50 overs.
So it is their bowling which is perhaps their main weapon, with Calum Drummond, Arun Krishna and Daniel Cairns the usual front three in the attack. Two others who could be a danger to Greenock, if they are available to play on Saturday, are Kasim Farid and former Greenock player and Scottish international Richie Berrington.
The top three in the Clydesdale batting line-up have largely failed to fire so far. Until the game with West two weeks ago Paddy Barbour with 17 runs against Dumfries had been the highest scorer among the three. But then Craig Young, who had failed to score against either Uddingston and Dumfries, came good with 81.
Greenock will hope that their opening pace attack of Sean Fischer-Keogh and Gregor Chambers can put the Clydesdale top order in disarray once again and then make in-roads with the middle order. If that can happen, then the Glenparkers will be very much in the match.
Berrington, if he plays against his former team-mates, could be very influential in the outcome. With more than 200 international caps, he will be the most experienced player on the field at Glenpark. He is a capable bowler and potential match-winner with the bat, but the Greenock players will be sure to do their best to keep him out of the limelight.
Greenock’s team for the match, which will start at noon will be: GJ McDougall (capt), HR Briggs, GM Chambers, LC Fischer-Keogh, SK Fischer-Keogh, CJK Hempsey, U Mansoor, SS Prabhu, SS Sanghera, A Sanghera, E Stewart. Scorer: R McGregor.
The Greenock 2ndXI (Glenpark) play Inverclyde on Saturday afternoon. The team for the Division Three league game at Gourock Park with a 1pm start will be dependent upon the players needed to move up to the 1st XI and will be: J Hutchinson (capt), M Ahmad, PJ Bryceland, C Calder, A Caskie, P Caskie, S Chaudhary, P Hempsey, E Norris, C Prabhu, PE Robertson.
Greenock Cricket Club is sponsored by Cleaning Supplies 4U