Rain ruins relegation battle
Willie Dick (CricketMedia Scotland)
THIS summer may ultimately be remembered for long spells of glorious sunshine but rain played a major part in resolving what was emerging as a thrilling relegation battle in the Western Premier division.
With the title already impressively won by Ferguslie, all eyes during the last two weeks of the campaign were set to focus on the foot of the table.
Instead that nail-biting finish has literally turned into a damp squib following Greenock’s win at Stirling coupled with the cancellation of the match between Poloc and Dumfries along with Ayr’s Titwood encounter with Clydesdale.
The upshot means that Dumfries, who could have survived by winning their remaining two matches, are relegated with Ayr almost certain to join them.
All of which is good news for Greenock who will almost certainly be playing in the top division again next season.
Not that the Glenpark club are celebrating just yet as it is still mathematically possible for them to be overhauled by Ayr – an eventuality which would arise if they failed to take a single point from their home clash with Poloc on Saturday while Ayr claimed a maximum haul at Dumfries.
In what turned out to be the only game to beat the weather, Greenock produced one of their most impressive performances of the season to outplay a Stirling side who had reached the dizzy heights of third top in their first season in the division.
Skipper Neil Flack, the Western Premier’s leading wicket-taker, added another three scalps to his tally while Sam Sanghera also claimed a treble as the home side were dismissed for 178, captain Matthew Tweedie top-scoring with 36.
Greenock made a stuttering start to their chase with Shailesh Prabhu, Chris Hempsey and Flack all departing cheaply to have them wobbling on 44-3 before the overseas duo of Saurabh Bandekar and Laurens Smit came to the rescue.
Indian professional Bandekar, who took time to settle at the start of the summer, has become a constant source of runs during the second half of the campaign and he added another 75no at the perfect time while South African Smit lent solid support with 57no, the pair putting on 135 to propel the Glenpark men to a seven-wicket success with almost seven overs to spare.
Skipper Flack is taking nothing for granted and said: “It was a fantastic effort from the team today to win such an important match especially as we had a few injury and availability issues.
“But next week we will have to ensure that we produce another top performance.”