Stevie Dunn's eligibility a major boost for CI's final hopes
Stevie Dunn is free to play in the Ulster Bank Challenge Cup final tomorrow (11am) at Comber after his disciplinary hearing, scheduled for Tuesday night, was postponed.
The CIYMS opening bowler was involved in a heated, on-field argument with Jamie Holmes in the Premier League game against Carrickfergus 12 days ago which had to be broken up by the umpires. However, both officials are on holiday this week and with Dunn indicating he was contesting the case, the hearing has been put back.
The presence of Dunn in the starting line-up is a huge boost for CI because there are continuing injury concerns over Nigel Jones and James Cameron-Dow, two other key members of their formidable bowling attack.
Both will play and bowl tomorrow but Cameron-Dow visibly struggled in the field during last weekend's game and, significantly, the Northern Knights' selectors have named him as an either/or for their inter-provincial Cup game at Merrion on Sunday.
He did get through his full 10 overs on his return to the side last Saturday and Jones bowled seven, between them conceding less than three runs an over, so there will be no excuses from CI if they fail to perform in biggest game of the NCU season.
Hitting form at the perfect time was Trevor Britton who took six wickets against Civil Service North and with captain Chris Dougherty also able to call on Knights' all-rounders Johnny Thompson and Rassie van der Dussen plus left-armer Dunn, then Dougherty is spoilt for choice.
The pitch at The Green is certain to play a big part. This time last week, it was all set to be a batsman's paradise but with so much rain over the last few days and more forecast for tomorrow, no-one is quite sure what will happen when the covers are removed.
Instonians must go into the final without professional Fahad Iqbal - signed too late to take part in the competition - and after scoring 97 in last week-end's league game against Lisburn is sure to be a huge loss. However, the blow has been softened by the return for tomorrow only of Ireland international Rory McCann, who is now in based in Scotland and scoring runs for Carlton.
The captain, though, invariably gets the innings off to a fast start, and if he goes big he must hope his Knights' duo of James Shannon and Andrew White back him up. If not, they could be in trouble because the middle-lower order is significantly weaker than their opponents.
A pace bowling attack of Stephen Bunting, Nicolai Smith and Eugene Moleon does not have the fear factor of Dunn, Thompson and Jones, so it could come down to White and Zach Rushe to literally turn the game Instonians' way.
If not, CIYMS will be favourites to win their first Challenge Cup final at the third attempt.