Belfast Telegraph

Cricket: North Down closing in on another Premier League title

By Ian Callender

The race for the Ulster Bank Premier League title remains a three-team fight but it is North Down’s to lose.

With just three weekends of the season remaining, the Comber side are two defeats better off than challengers Lisburn and Waringstown and, if results go their way, they could be celebrating their eighth championship in 12 years by Sunday night.

It would mean Instonians having to win at Wallace Park tomorrow and the Villagers failing to win both their home games this weekend against Downpatrick and CIYMS, so no-one will be taking anything for granted at The Green when they play back to back home games against Carrickfergus and Civil Service North.

North Down captain Peter Shields has the only objective of maintaining an unbeaten run which started on May 15, a dozen matches ago, with the only hiccup a tie in their next match at Lurgan — remarkably the Pollock Park’s side only league points of the season.

Since then it has been victories all the way.

While Lisburn, Waringstown and even CIYMS and Instonians have four batsmen who on their day can score a match-winning century, North Down’s batting just seems to go on and on although the not so well-kept secret this season is that their big batsmen have scored runs much more consistently than any of their closest rivals.

Ryan Haire, Andrew Sutherland and Neil Russell have all scored centuries while Taimur Khan has already topped 700 runs with a top score of 89.

Haire is leading the way in all competitions with 1,080 while Sutherland needs just 31 more to join him in four figures. Shields, Terrett and Daniel Harding have also posted half centuries.

And it would be fitting if nobody can catch them by Sunday night because the game against CSN is their last home match of the season.

Tomorrow: Ulster Bank Premier League (12 noon): CIYMS v Ballymena, Civil Service North v Lurgan, Lisburn v Instonians, North Down v Carrickfergus, Waringstown v Downpatrick. Sunday: North Down v Civil Service North, Waringstown v CIYMS

Section One: Armagh v Holywood, Derriaghy v Bangor, Dundrum v Woodvale, Muckamore v Laurelvale, Saintfield v Cliftonville. Sunday: Woodvale v Cliftonville (Shaw’s Bridge, 1pm, 20 overs)

Section Two: Dunmurry v Academy, Dungannon v Cooke Collegians, Templepatrick v Cregagh, Millpark v Donacloney. Sunday: Larne v Millpark, Cregagh v Academy.

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