MIRACLES do happen - and one certainly did at the weekend when Greenock Cricket Club's anniversary match went ahead thanks to the efforts of groundsman Roger Hardie and some club members.
Despite heavy overnight rain on Saturday, the 150th anniversary match between Greenock and a Cricket Scotland President's XI took place as scheduled at Glenpark on Sunday afternoon.
As announced, the Cricket Scotland President's XI - assembled by Greenock and Scotland Assistant Coach Tony Judd - was a very strong side with several current internationalists and a number of players recently retired from the international stage in their side.
Former Rangers and Scotland goalkeeper Andy Goram, who also represented Scotland as an opening pace bowler between 1989 and 1991, fulfilled his agreement to turn out for the CS President's XI and showed that he is still a fine player.
Greenock batted first and Chris Hempsey with Fraser Watts - Scotland's most capped player and a former Greenock opener - both got the innings off to a very brisk start.
They put on 40 for the first wicket in just the sixth over before Hempsey (11) offered up a straightforward catch to Paul Hoffman at mid off. Just three runs later, Gregor Maiden picked up his second wicket when he had Watts caught by Neil McCallum for 23.
Richie Berrington (15) and Mpho Sekhoto (8) then put on 21 runs before both perished with the score on 64.
Sekhoto was stumped by wicket-keeper Douglas Lockhart from the bowling of Andy Tennant and Berrington was well caught by Bruce Patterson off the bowling of Andy Goram.
Ryan Begley and Shailesh Prabhu both departed after brief spells in the middle and then Alex Baum (12) and Jonathan Hempsey added 21 runs for the 7th wicket.
However, it was a fine 9th wicket partnership between Hempsey and Greg McDougall (20) which produced 40 valuable runs which helped set the CS President's XI a decent total to chase when the last wicket fell on the very last ball of the innings with Greenock on 156.
Jonathan Hempsey top scored for Greenock with 38 not out while Andy Tennant with wickets 3 for 25 runs claimed the best bowling figures for the Cricket Scotland President's XI.
Aidan Forrest, one of Greenock's most talented youngsters, was invited to be part of the Scotland XI for the day and he picked up the wicket of McDougall when given an opportunity to bowl late in the innings.
Paul Hoffman and Dougie Lockhart got the CS President's XI reply underway in fine style, scoring quickly during the first five overs with boundaries featuring strongly from their shots. Hoffman was first to depart caught by Dougie Wylie off the bowling of Greenock pro Mpho Sekhoto for 36.
Andy Goram came in to replace Hoffman and he helped Lockhart maintain a good run rate by picking off singles and rotating the strike well.
He also scored a boundary with a powerful shot off Mark Robertson's bowling, but became a victim of the Greenock bowler later in the same over when he was bowled going for another big shot. He had scored 14 runs and the CS President's XI were on 87 for two when he was out.
Bruce Patterson came and went quickly for 12 runs, caught brilliantly by Greenock captain Ryan Begley on the Bedford Street boundary. Opening bat Lockhart then brought up his 50 with a magnificent drive which raced to the scoreboard boundary and he graciously retired to receive a well earned ovation from the Glenpark crowd.
A spree of wickets fell after Lockhart's departure as Gordon Goudie (6), Michael Powell (3) and Gordon Drummond (8) all only spent a brief time partnering Neil McCallum who was accumulating runs quietly at the other end. Or at least he had been until Drummond became Alex Baum's second stumping victim of the innings to leave the Cricket Scotland President's XI score on 144 for seven.
McCallum, who was renowned as being one of Scotland's most dangerous batsmen and had a top international score of 181, brought the game to a swift conclusion in the 24th over when he hit two boundaries, a massive six into Fox Street and a three to win. He was not out 27.
At the end of the match, both sets of players were presented with a memento of the occasion by Greenock President Peter Hempsey. Jack Kerr, president of Cricket Scotland, presented a silver quaich to Greenock to commemorate the club's 150th anniversary.
The teams were:
Greenock: Ryan Begley (Captain), Alex Baum, Richie Berrington, Christopher Hempsey, Jonathan Hempsey, Greg McDougall, Shailesh Prabhu, Mark Robertson, Mpho Sekhoto, Fraser Watts, Dougie Wylie.
Cricket Scotland President's XI: Gordon Drummond (Carlton) (capt), Aidan Forrest (Greenock), Andy Goram (former Penicuik), Gordon Goudie (Stoneywood Dyce), Paul Hoffman(Uddingston), Tony Judd (Greenock), Douglas Lockhart (West of Scotland), Neil McCallum, (Grange), Gregor Maiden (Grange), Bruce Patterson (Ayr), Michael Powell (former Warwickshire and England 'A'), Andy Tennant (Prestwick).