Decker Curry gets back on to hot streak
Opponents still getting decked by veteran
For 15 years out of 16, Decker Curry was a league title winner, first with Donemana and then with Limavady.
This season, however, the North West legend finds himself in the thick of a relegation battle with Ardmore – and he is enjoying it.
"It's a new experience, but in nine league games we have only been outplayed once, so it's all good and, if we win two of our last five, including Sunday's game against Eglinton, I would like to think we would be safe," says the 50-times international, who never played for Ireland again, after his infamous fall-out with then coach Ken Rutherford in 2001.
In a wide-ranging, exclusive, interview, Curry gave his thoughts on the current Ireland team, the North West Warriors and explained why he played only one friendly for Strabane at the beginning of last season, before turning up this year at unfashionable Ardmore.
First, he was keen to explain why the Strabane move didn't happen after Limavady quit senior cricket.
"It was never my intention to join Strabane and not play for them," he said.
"I had an operation in March 2013 to remove a stone in the kidney, but they only got half of it out and I had to go back for a second operation in April, just as the cricket season was about to start," he said.
"At that stage I had as much interest in playing cricket as flying to the moon.
"I played in a friendly for Strabane, but realised I wasn't ready. So, I told Mark Gillespie I wasn't going to hobble around, but last summer, in the good weather, I started to miss playing cricket. Come winter-time Ciaran Curley, whom I would have known through his dad, asked me down to Ardmore, 'even to do a bit of coaching.'
"When the season came around the arrangement was I would play a month, see how it went and if I scored a few runs and was happy enough I would stay on and play. And I have really enjoyed this season.
"The coaching has given me the chance to work with young Ryan Brolly, who is only 16, who couldn't even get a bowl for the Seconds last year but he is now bowling 10 overs every week.
"Lee Brolly bowls a bit of left arm spin and while he has been around for a while he never got any guidance. He just needed some help and is not going for nearly as many runs."
The improvement in the Ardmore youngsters has given Curry almost as much satisfaction as the runs he has scored – but only almost.
"My aim is still to score 1,000 runs this season. I am on 798 and I have still five games left. I got out to a horrendous ball on Sunday, a full toss which came off the back of the bat to point, but that was the first false shot I have been out to all season.
"I'm now getting out in a more 'sensible' way, if I can put it like that, although I've been run out three times." Including once by Dean (his son) against Fox Lodge, a direct hit when he was in the 90s.
Curry has already added two more centuries this season to his prolific career tally – he is now up to 94 – and is still the batsman the opposition want out.
Turning to the Ireland team, heading for a third World Cup finals, Curry believes they will miss Boyd Rankin, but says the North West should be proud of the now, England international.
"It's good to see so many of the Irish boys playing county cricket. It's just a pity that Boyd left the scene, but you can't blame him," said Curry.
"Who would have dreamt that a boy from the sticks would open the bowling for England in a Test match?
"A lot of people may laugh and sneer at us, but it is remarkable achievement."
Unsurprisingly, Curry likes to watch Paul Stirling bat, but also sees a bright future for his Middlesex team-mate.
"Andrew Balbirnie is coming through and young Stirling should do well. He is an attacking player, but that's the modern game. Unlike in my day, they like anyone who hits the ball to the boundary," says the batsman who, in his heyday, could hit it further than most – and regularly.
"I had a good time. You can't turn back the clock but some days I still try to. I suppose if you lay down the challenge, you have two options – to take it up or turn it down."
Curry is adamant, though, that nobody should be playing for Warriors, if they are older than 30.
"If you haven't had a full cap or Ireland A by then you won't make it," he says.
"The Northern Knights and Leinster Lightning are still playing former International players, but the North West is going down the right route.
"I could still do a job for the Warriors, would still score more runs than a couple of their batsmen, but there's no point playing me at the age of 47."
He also disagrees with overseas professionals playing in the inter-provincials.
"It's taking away responsibility from players like Johnny Thompson. He needs to be opening the bowling if he wants to play for Ireland."
And with that Curry went back to what he does best, playing rather than giving interviews.
But he has already made up his mind he will be back for another season in 2015 as the legend continues.
A FEW SHORT DELIVERIES
Cregagh celebrate champions status
Cregagh , featured in these pages last week, may have lost out in the All-Ireland Under-15 semi-final, but captain Stuart Nelson starred for the 1st XI as they became the first senior team to be crowned champions this season.
A nine wickets victory over PSNI on Sunday clinched the Section Three title, with Nelson finishing the innings with the remarkable figures of six wickets for two runs in 2.3 overs. Robert Moore then hit 33 not out as Cregagh reached their victory target of 68.
Academy, the Junior Cup winners, were also celebrating on Sunday. They also had a nine wickets win, over Millpark, to clinch promotion into Section One.
Donacloney, six points behind with a match in hand, can still catch them for the Section Two title.
Carrick on track to seal the quadruple
Carrickfergus remain on course for a four-trophy season after adding the RSA National Cup to their Lagan Valley Steels Twenty20 success, with a 120 runs victory over Killyclooney.
The east Antrim club host Downpatrick in the final of the O’Neill’s Ulster Shield on Sunday and last Saturday moved within four points of Section One leaders Lurgan, with two games in hand, after beating their title rivals by five wickets.
Carrick have four league games left, including a double header against Downpatrick, the first at The Meadow on Saturday, and if they win three of them — and Lurgan win their last two, at home to Bangor and Woodvale — the championship will be decided by nett run rate; Carrick are currently 0.14 runs ahead.
The Meadow was the venue on Sunday for Carrick’s National Cup triumph with consistent batting all the way down the order — Jamie Holmes was top scorer with 49 but five others got past 25.
CIYMS get familiar taste of Cup glory
CIYMS III won the Cleaver Black Minor (Lindsay) Cup for the second time in three years with a three wickets win over Instonians III at Eaton Park.
Ballymena IV avenged their defeat in last year’s Minor Qualifying Cup final to Armagh III, by winning the cup for the first time, with a comfortable 91 runs victory at The Cloughan.
Scores: Minor (Lindsay) Cup final: Instonians III 151-8 (J Bell 65; T Adams 2-16) CIYMS III 152-7 (T Adams 75). CIYMS won by 3 wickets.
Minor Qualifying Cup final: Ballymena IV 209-4 (A Crease 57, J Glass 52, J Martin 34 not out; R Dobbs 3-39) Armagh III 118 (K Wilson 28 not out; J Glass 3-17, S Glass 2-8, J Archer 2-23). Ballymena won by 91 runs.