Wayne Horwood's heroics secure Cup glory
Published 19/07/2014 | 11:00
Nigel Jones received the Lagan Valley Steels Twenty20 Cup at The Lawn as Civil Service North, in their first appearance in the final, stunned three-times winners North Down.
The CSN skipper was unable to complete his full quota of overs after pulling a hamstring, but on a night full of surprises, Wayne Horwood bowled his first overs of the season and took three wickets, including the prize scalp of North Down captain Ryan Haire.
The last wicket was, fittingly, taken by Griffin Nieuwoudt, the South African professional who scored 82 not out in the Stormont side's 162 for six and his 17 runs off the final over was, ultimately, the difference between the sides.
North Down needed 13 off their last over, with James Cameron-Dow in strike, but he failed to score from the first and hit the second ball back to the bowler to start CSN's celebrations.
The first surprise of the night was to see former Ireland international Regan West in their line-up.
The former Ireland international, forced to retire after one season because of a shoulder injury, played his first game of the summer last week for the Seconds and was instantly promoted for the big game of the season.
As he was caught on the mid-wicket boundary without scoring, his sole contribution was the catch to dismiss Marty Moreland, but then Jones was also out in the second over, also or a duck, as the unsung heroes came to the party.
Jason van der Merwe hit 48 from 38 balls with three fours and three sixes and shared a third wicket stand of 95 with Nieuwoudt, 53 of them coming off just four overs as Moreland, Peter Eakin and Haire were put to the sword.
The return of Cameron-Dow, however, hauled North Down back into the game. He had bowled his first two overs for just five runs and his comeback over yielded the wickets of van der Merwe and West. When Haire then bowled Chris McMorran it seemed the holders were on course for the big finish.
Instead it was Nieuwoudt who finally got the better of Cameron-Dow. The first ball of the last over reached the boundary, the second and third cleared it and although he had to be content with a single off the fourth, he had left North Down with a target of more than eight runs an over.
Jones removed new Ireland call-up Nick Larkin with his fourth ball and Ben Adair, the man who had the throw to win £10,000 last Sunday in the Northern Knights' Family Fun Day at Comber – he missed the single stump by less than two feet – then bowled T20 specialist Peter Eakin for just five.
At the other end, though, Johnny Terrett was single-handedly giving North Down the perfect start. His 35, at a run-a-ball, included six fours and even when Adair breached his defences, his captain must still have been happy to have 71 on the board at halfway.
Adair still wasn't finished and Danny Graham, a surprise No 5, was caught off the top edge the over before Horwood made the vital breakthrough, forcing a mistimed pull from the Comber captain. It still needed a tremendous catch by Beverland, however, diving full stretch coming in from mid-wicket, to seal Haire's fate.
It looked as if it would seal North Down's as well, but first Alistair Shields, then Cameron-Dow had other ideas.
Shields hit two boundaries before giving Beverland a simple catch and when professional CJ Muir hit Horwood for a huge six it was game on again, but his next attempt to clear the boundary ended in the hands of Andrew Cowden and Horwood, who had not even bowled in the nets this year, had his third wicket.
Allan Coulter chipped in with the ninth wicket and that left Nieuwoudt to win it.