Jeremy Bray may have scored the bulk of CIYMS’ runs in their opening day Ulster Bank Premier League victory over Civil Service North but captain Stephen Hughes can, rightly, point out that it was he and two of the unsung heroes who took the bulk of the wickets.
Once the visitors’ imported batting line-up had scored 180 in their 50 overs on a slow, bowler-friendly Stormont pitch, it was always likely to be too many for their under-strength hosts, who even had to persuade retired Ireland international Regan West to come out of retirement, dip into the memory bank and play as a batsman just to get a recognisable 11 onto the field.
They did get to within 19 runs but once Nigel Jones, Paddy Fisher and West, for an aggregate of just 23 runs, had all perished on the boundary, CIYMS always had it under control.
All but Jones and the 10 and jack made double figures but not one CSN batsman reached double figures as Stephen McChesney took the last two wickets to finish with three. Earlier Ryan Adair removed Ireland international Jones and the returning Fisher, and Hughes dismissed both Trevor Dalzell and Andrew Cowden after their opening partnership of 52.
CSN actually started both innings well because, after winning the toss, they reduced CI to 26 for three, stretched over a painful but, in Bray’s case, defiant 14 overs. The triumvirate of Chris Dougherty (ex-Brigade), Barry Cooper and Taimur Khan (ex-North Down) scored just nine runs between them but Bray used all his first-class and international experience to see off the new ball pairing of Jones and John Costain – who removed Dougherty with his first ball – and score his first half century in NCU cricket.
He fell for 82 in the 45th over, bowled by Alistair Graham, CSN’s new signing from Saintfield whose bid for a hat-trick was interrupted by the batting powerplay. But Bray and the wickets of Zimbabwean pair of Ryan Butterworth (bowled) and PJ Moor (lbw first ball) will do nicely on his cv.
Jordan Wilson, another who is unlikely to be a regular once the Civil Service North professional arrives and Colin Andrews and Allan Coulter are available, also chipped in with two wickets and bowled so well that Jones didn’t even bring himself back for his final two overs.
The margin of victory, though, gives hope to the other championship contenders and none more so than Waringstown who eased to a seven wickets win over Ballymena at The Lawn in the only other game to survive the midweek rains. Lee Nelson started the season the way he finished 2011 and James Hall didn’t. Both made 60s, Nelson’s unbeaten, although his contribution to the unbroken stand of 36 with Glen Addicott which hurried the match to its conclusion at the start of the 37th over was negligible.
That was because Addicott, a recommendation of last year’s overseas star, Obus Pienaar, scored 30 from 16 balls with five boundaries, three of them sixes.
It’s a little early to say, as someone has already suggested, he is an Obus 2 but certainly his batting style would indicate that entertainment is guaranteed when he is in the middle. He also took two wickets for 18 in nine overs of medium pace.
Not for the first time, or the last, Kyle McCallan was the most successful bowler and the captain also kept everyone waiting for a sight of Addicott, who only came in at No 5.