GREENOCK’S final match of the 2021 Premier Division season is at Glenpark this Saturday when Stirling County are the visitors.
With relegation to the First Division a certainty for Greenock, and Stirling safe in mid-table, there is only pride at stake.
For Greenock, it is an opportunity to gain a second league win and finish off a difficult and disappointing season on a positive note.
Since defeating Greenock at their New Williamfield ground in mid-July, County have cemented their position by winning a further four matches, with each of their wins being against teams below them in the league.
Young South African all-rounder Brandon McMullen has been a key player and is currently riding high at the top of the Premier Division batting stats with a massive 767 runs to his credit. He is also County’s top wicket-taker with 23 wickets.
But Stirling are far from being a one-man team. They have a number of players who have been scoring well, enabling numerous totals of more than 200 to have been scored.
Matthew Tweedie, the County captain, has piled up more than 400 runs during the summer. Not far behind is Harry Booker with 394 runs.
Greenock team captain, Greg McDougall, has had a difficult season. He has regularly had to field teams missing a number of players who would have been his first choices, but who have been unavailable for a variety of circumstances.
This Saturday is no different. With the cricket season having been extended into September because of a delayed start because of covid, there is an overlap with other sports such as rugby, hockey and football.
Added to that, numerous players have work commitments which affect their availability. One such player is opening batsman Neil Flack. He has been a key player for Greenock for a number of years, but his job has meant that he has only managed to play a handful of Premier Division matches this season.
Despite his lack of availability, Flack is still the leading run-scorer in the Glenpark side and had he been in the side more regularly, it is likely Greenock’s batting performances would have been much improved.
Another key player missing this weekend is opening pace bowler Sean Fischer-Keogh who is unavailable because of international commitments. He is in Spain as a member of the Scotland Under-19 Cricket World Cup European Qualifier squad.
Fischer-Keogh’s opening bowling partner Gregor Chambers will therefore lead the Greenock attack and may well be joined by Sam Sanghera who had a fine five-wicket performance last Saturday against Premier Division leaders Clydesdale.
Greg McDougall, Chirag Pandher, Ewan Stewart and Cammy Calder will be the other bowlers who will be called upon to break down the County batting.
But just as important for Greenock’s hopes of gaining a win will be the team’s ability to score runs. There have been only a few good starts to the Glenpark side’s innings this season, and if a solid foundation can be laid on Saturday, then a sizeable total could be achieved.
The experience of Shailesh Prabhu will almost certainly be an important factor at the top of the order.
Teenager Lukas Fischer-Keogh, who has developed into a very fine wicket-keeper, has also become a useful batsman for the team.
Chirag Pandher has shown that he is a powerful batsman who can score quickly but he needs to work hard and spend time in the middle on Saturday along with others such as Sam Sanghera, Gregor Chambers, Peter Janampally and young Cammy Calder.
Greenock have, for much of the season, recognised that a drop down a division was likely. And now that is certain, the club is already making plans for a swift return to the top tier.
An experienced professional and an up-and-coming young overseas amateur are being actively sought for the cricketing set-up at Glenpark for the 2022 season.
Being one of the oldest and most successful cricket clubs in Scotland, the Glenparkers have ambitions to quickly return to the Premier Division. So a win against County at Glenpark on Saturday would be a real encouragement to the team and its supporters. But the Stirling side will be no easy team to beat.
Greenock’s team for Saturday’s final Premier Division match of the season against Stirling County at Glenpark, which will start at noon, will be chosen fromg: GJ McDougall (capt), PJ Bryceland, C Calder, S Chaudhary, GM Chambers, LC Fischer-Keogh, J Jayampally, CS Pandher, SS Prabhu, SS Sanghera, AS Sanghera, E Stewart Scorer: R McGregor.
Greenock Cricket Club is sponsored by Cleaning Supplies 4U