Ayr and Greenock in vital clash
William Dick (CricketMedia Scotland)
AYR and Greenock, traditional Clyde coast rivals, go head-to-head as the Western Premier Division bids to beat the weather and get into full swing today after a curtailed programme a week ago.
This game, though, will be played out in slightly different circumstances to many of their encounters over the years when the pair have either been challenging for Western Union, SNCL or Scottish Cup honours.
This time both clubs are in the midst of rebuilding phases and, if their opening day results are anything to go by, survival may be as much as either can hope for this season.
While Ayr were going down by eight wickets to West of Scotland at Cambusdoon, Greenock also suffered a heavy home defeat to top flight newcomers Dumfries.
There is therefore a lot at stake at Ayr’s picturesque Alloway ground though there is little sense of impending doom in either camp.
Scott McElnea, Ayr’s Scotland U19 bowler, said: “Last week wasn’t the way we wanted to start and the lads are desperate to bounce back from that.
“We know Greenock are in a similar position to ourselves and we expect a tough match.
“It was a good pitch for the game against West last week and hopefully we can learn the lessons and get our first win on the board.
“We are a young team and are looking to improve every time we play.”
The Alloway outfit will have to go into action without the services of their professional Craig Thyssen who has yet to arrive from South Africa.
They also have no overseas amateur this season in contrast to Greenock who will not only have professional Mpho Sekhoto in their ranks but also fellow South African Craig Schlebusch who has returned to Scotland following a flying visit home which caused him to miss last week’s game.
Neil Flack, an U15 player, is handed his debut while Chris Hempsey is also drafted into the side as the visitors bid to bolster their batting.
Elsewhere Dumfries go into their first home clash of the season as league leaders against one of the pre-season favourites Clydesdale.
However, the new boys are quick to play down their lofty status, spokesman Hugh Farries stating: “We won’t be getting carried away after one game but we were obviously pleased with last week’s result.
“I think we expect a tougher game against Clydesdale who would certainly start favourites.”
Clydesdale are playing catch-up after their opening game against Stirling was washed-out and club chairman Colin Mitchell said: “We will go down there with a healthy dose of respect.
“It’s a trip into the unknown for us in terms of opposition and venue as I can’t remember a competitive game against Dumfries and that adds a bit of interest.”
Dumfries go with the same eleven that beat Greenock while Dale are without Saltires star Safy Sharif along with Greig Williamson, Kasim Farid and Lyle Hill.
West of Scotland are looking to build on last week’s fine win at Ayr when they entertain an Uddingston side whose scheduled clash with Drumpellier was a victim of the rain.
Both sides expect to be at full strength.
Stirling and Drumpellier complete the card in a fixture which sees both clubs make a belated start to the campaign following wash-outs on day one.