McCrea FS West of Scotland (7): 186 for 9 in 50 overs

(J Oliver 48 J Fennah 42)

DLS par score 178 in 45 overs.

Greenock (25): 181 for 8 in 44.5 overs.

(ND Flack 50, HR Briggs 27 not out, G Etheridge 4/41)

Greenock beat West of Scotland by 2 wkts (D/L)

GREENOCK gained their first Premier Division win of the season by defeating West of Scotland in an exciting finish at Glenpark on Saturday afternoon.

The visitors posted 186 for the loss of nine wickets from their 50 overs, but with Duckworth Lewis Stern (DLS) in play due to a rain delay, Greenock reached the revised target of 178 in 45 overs with just one ball remaining.

West captain James Fennah lost the toss prior to the start of the match and home skipper Greg McDougall opted to insert the visitors.

Sean Fischer-Keogh and Gregor Chambers provided the opening pace attack and runs were hard to come by for John Strachan and Tom Spensley at the top of the order for the Hamilton Crescent team.

And with just 10 runs on the scoreboard, Chambers achieved the first breakthrough for Greenock having Spensley (three) caught by Harry Briggs.

John Oliver joined Strachan out in the middle, but with Fischer-Keogh, and particularly Chambers, being frugal with their offerings of run-scoring balls, the West pair made slow progress.

Fischer-Keogh was rested after bowling six very pacey overs and Neil Flack took over with his off breaks, but still the rate of scoring was slow. Chambers too was given a break after bowling eight overs for the loss of just nine runs, and with the wicket of opener Spensley to his credit.

First change bowler Flack gained Greenock’s second wicket bowling Strachan for 13 in the 21st over, with the visitors' total having only moved along to 39 on the scoreboard.

David Braithwaite and Oliver managed to increase the run rate a little in the next six overs but Braithwaite (nine) perished midway through the 27th over when Shailesh Prabhu held on to a catch from the bowling of Harry Briggs to leave West in some trouble at 66 for three.

West captain James Fennah and Oliver then put together the best partnership of the innings, adding 58 runs in 11 overs to put the visitors into a much more positive position and ready to launch a run-scoring attack in the last quarter of the innings.

But Greenock broke the partnership when Sean Fischer-Keogh gained the important wicket of Fennah (42) with just the fourth ball of his second bowling spell.

Fischer-Keogh’s rapid pace induced an edge from the West captain and the ball flew into the gloves of his brother Lukas keeping wicket some distance behind the stumps, with the score at 124 for four in the 37th over.

As so often happens when a good partnership is broken, another quick wicket falls. In this case two more quick wickets fell.

Oliver, on the cusp of a half century, was LBW to Flack for 48 and then new batsman Michael Miller (two) was removed by an outstanding return catch to Harry Weld-Forester. The score was at 129 for six after 40 overs.

In the remaining 10 overs of their innings, West had to chase runs to try and make a total which would be challenging for Greenock, and, despite losing three more wickets, 57 more runs did get added to the visitors' score when the innings closed on 186 for nine at the end of the allotted 50 overs.

Number 10 batsman Anthony Hulatt, with a swashbuckling 24 not out, elevated West to a total which seemed way beyond what might have been hoped for by them, as he hit three fours, two threes and a maximum six out of the ground in the last four overs.

Gregor Chambers, two wickets for 25 runs from 10 overs, and Neil Flack, two for 17 from 10 overs, were the pick of the Greenock bowlers with Sean Fischer-Keogh, Harry Briggs, Harry Wed-Forester and Jamie Nowell each picking up one wicket apiece.

A rain break lasting 50 minutes interrupted the Greenock innings after just one over had been bowled and so DLS was brought into play. A revised target of 179 from a total of 45 overs was calculated, providing that there were no further rain breaks.

Prior to the interruption, Neil Flack had notified his intentions from the off with crashing four to the boundary from Gavin Smith’s first ball of the innings.

And on resumption of play, Flack and Jamie Nowell found themselves well in control of the visitors’ experienced attack. The pair produced the best partnership of the day by racking up 81 runs in the first 16 overs before Nowell (28) was caught by Strachan from the third ball of change bowler Oliver’s third over.

Neil Flack reached his half century but was then bowled by second change bowler Graeme Etheridge in the 19th over.

His 50 had contained 11 boundaries when he was dismissed with the score on 92 for two.

Gregor Chambers (five), Shailesh Prabhu (nine), Harry Weld-Forester (six) and Sean Fischer Keogh (10) all departed relatively cheaply, with the first three all victims of Etheridge, as Greenock nudged along to 143 for the loss of six wickets after 37 overs.

But number three batsman Harry Briggs was playing a fine innings, refusing to give the West attack his wicket. And when he was joined by Chris Hempsey, the pair shifted the game’s momentum back into Greenock’s favour.

Thirty runs were added in six overs with Hempsey (22) the main assailant hitting four boundaries before being bowled by Oliver with just 10 balls of the innings remaining and six runs needed to win.

Hempsey’s wicket followed by the run out of Lukas Fischer-Keogh with just two balls remaining and two runs still needed, left the result on a knife-edge. But Harry Briggs, who had been at the crease from the 16th over and played a battling innings, was the home hero when he smashed Dave McNulty’s penultimate ball of the innings to the boundary. Cue celebrations!

Briggs was unbeaten on 27 having faced over 90 balls, as he gave the innings the backbone which it needed to bring home the team’s first Premier Division win of 2021.

Graeme Etheridge with four wickets for 41 runs from 10 overs was West’s most successful bowler, with Oliver two for 24 and Fennah one for 28 the other wicket takers.

The Glenparkers came into this game having lost all four of their league matches played to date. However, there was a feeling that a win was ‘just around the corner’ as the side had given a good account of itself in most games but just failed to translate that form into a win.

So with confidence boosted, and in the knowledge that the team can win, Greenock will look to take a lot from this game against West as the season continues.

l Greenock Cricket Club is sponsored by Cleaning Supplies 4U.