Ulster Bank Premier League: Waringstown and North Down aiming to lay title marker
Published 02/05/2014 | 02:30
It is only the second weekend of the season but the fixture list has thrown up two titanic clashes which could have an early say in the destiny of the Ulster Bank Premier League crown.
Waringstown v North Down is always a 'match of the day' and, having won their opening matches in such convincing style, this will be an early indicator of the respective strengths of the two sides.
The Waringstown top-order batsmen flexed their muscles against a weak Muckamore attack and how they treat the North Down bowlers will likely decide the game because Waringstown's attack is the stronger, but with Andrew Sutherland and Taimur Khan, who "always scores runs at The Lawn", back in the visitors side, North Down can argue they have a stronger batting line-up.
The other big clash is at Shaw's Bridge where Instonians, the joint defending champions, are looking to get off the mark against 2012 champions CIYMS, who signalled their intention to be in the mix at the end of the season with a thrilling chase against Lisburn.
Eugene Moleon is still resisting temptations to return to the side after "retiring" at the end of last season and with John Stevenson also missing from last year's championship-winning side, others will have to step up to the plate.
New captain Neil Russell, Northern Knights skipper Andrew White and Nicolai Smith scored only 23 runs between them last Saturday, around 100 short of what would be expected, but James Shannon, who was suspended last week, is back.
CI, however, can call on Stephen Dunn this week and with Nathan Waller, that is a 'gun' opening attack which can cause problems for the strongest batting line-up.