CRICKET -- Greenock Gearing Up For Pre-Season Friendlies

GREENOCK Cricket Club begin the 2019 season with three friendly matches, spread across two weekends.

Competitive cricket gets under way on Saturday 27 April with the first Premier Division match against East Kilbride at Glenpark.

Weather permitting, the first two friendlies will be on Saturday 13 April, when Greenock play host to Renfrew at Glenpark, and on Sunday 14 April, when a West Of Scotland CC Development XI will provide the opposition for another early season match at Glenpark.

Joining the Greenock team for the coming season are two overseas players, 31-year-old professional Saurabh Bandekar from Goa in India, who returns to Glenpark after a successful season with the club last summer, and 20-year-old amateur Zac Barrenechea from New South Wales in Australia.

In his early career, Bandekar represented India Under-19s alongside current national stars Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ishant Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja. He is an accomplished batsman who is also a right arm pace bowler and his talents will be a key feature for the Greenock this season. Bandekar has played at top level state cricket in India for Goa and also played in the very high profile Indian Premier League for Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore. He made his first class debut in 2015 and played more than 140 domestic matches, across the three formats of T20, one-day 50 overs matches and three-day state cricket. He scored 3,000-plus runs and took 250-plus wickets, including three hundreds and eight five-wicket hauls in his career playing at the top levels of Indian cricket.

In 2018, Bandekar made a slow start to his first season in Scotland, but, after acclimatising, he became a key player for Greenock as the local side fought hard and successfully retained their Premier Division status.

Barrenechea is a top order batsman and wicketkeeper for his side New City in the Albury Wodonga First Provincial League in New South Wales. He is relishing the opportunity to come to Scotland and to gain experience playing in Scottish Premier League cricket. It is hoped he will be able to make a valuable contribution to Greenock’s 1st XI during the summer.

Greenock Cricket Club will play in the Premier Division of the Western District Cricket Union and so local supporters can look forward once again to the Glenpark team playing against old rivals such as Clydesdale, Poloc, Uddingston and West of Scotland and 2018 champions Ferguslie. The Glenpark faithful can also look forward to tussles with newly promoted Drumpellier and East Kilbride as well as matches against 2017 champions Prestwick and Stirling County.

Greenock will require to perform to a high standard throughout the season to ensure their place in the Premier Division. It will not be an easy task, but there is no lack of optimism at Greenock, and the players have been training indoors on a weekly basis since February and outdoor training will begin in the week ahead. 

As well as 1st XI cricket, Greenock will also be putting out two further senior sides -- a Saturday 2nd XI and a Sunday Development XI which will play various friendly matches during the season to give young players the opportunity of playing alongside some of the more experienced players at Glenpark.

Junior cricket for boys and girls starts from mid-April at Glenpark, with age group cricket at Under-11, Under-14 and Under-16 a major feature on weekday evenings right through the summer until the end of August.

The success of junior coaching at Glenpark can be demonstrated by the national and district level recognition achieved by players such as 1st captain Neil Flack who led the Under-19 Scotland team at the 2016 World Cup in Bangladesh, current Under-17 Scottish international Sean Fischer Keogh and Jamie Nowell, Tom Forrest and Lukas Fischer Keogh who have all played at age group levels with the Western District Junior Cricket Union.

Other up and coming young players include Ewan Stewart who has regular 1st XI experience, and Cammy Calder, PJ Bryceland, Aryan Sanghera and Liam McCahill who should feature in the 2nd XI during the season. Also likely to make appearances in the 2nd XI will be Emily Norris who has been training with the Scottish Ladies Under-17 squad throughout the winter months and Amelia Calder who is another young Greenock girl with great promise.

New players for senior cricket are invited to go along to training sessions at Glenpark on Tuesdays and Thursdays or to contact the Club on 01475 724037, weekday evenings between 8 and 11 o'clock, or at weekends, noon until 10pm, or call into the Club in Brisbane Street. More information about Greenock Cricket club is available on its website www.greenockcricketclub.com.

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