Big hitter Shannon stakes his claim for Irish recall
It has been four years since James Shannon last played a first-class game for Ireland but he is doing his chances of a recall to the international team no harm with his performances in this year's Inter-provincial Championship.
Following on from his 71 at Eglinton for the Northern Knights last week, he scored a superb 140 not out to ensure the NCU side were in no danger of losing their second game to Leinster Lightning.
Coming to the middle immediately after lunch with the Knights on 103 for three, just 48 ahead, he lost James McCollum in the first full over after the break and Instonians team-mate Shane Getkate and James Matchett in the next hour to leave his side on 166 for six.
But by then Shannon was already in cruise control having brought up his 50 in 57 balls, and for the next two hours he found a steadfast ally in Graeme McCarter, the CSN captain playing on his home ground.
Together they put on a seventh wicket competition record of 162 - beating the previous best of 131 between Lorcan Tucker and George Dockrell - and when Shannon declared 10 minutes before the start of the final hour it was the sixth highest for any wicket.
Shannon's personal tally has been bettered only by Nick Larkin and Adam Dennison in the competition, and McCarter, whose contribution deserves the highest praise, reached his maiden 50 in first-class cricket.
But the innings was all about Shannon, who treated pace bowling and spin with the perfect mixture of respect and disdain, keeping out the good balls and dismissing the bad ones, which invariably went to the boundary. His final tally was 17 fours and three sixes and he faced just 161 balls, a rate which no one matched in the entire game.
While Peter Chase showed impressive pace and deserved the wickets of Nikolai Smith and McCollum, the surprise bowler was Andrew Balbirnie, whose accurate off spin was rewarded with three wickets, a first for him with the red ball. He bowled 24 of the 64 overs of spin yesterday, but Lightning were unable to build on their 55-runs advantage from the first innings.
Meanwhile, Cricket Ireland have confirmed that the proposed three-match ODI series against Afghanistan at Stormont next month will not take place.
The Afghanistan Cricket Board said they "were not in a position to approve the tour due to a clash with preparations for our domestic franchise T20 event" - this despite the fact they will be playing MCC in a one-day match at Lord's on July 11. Ireland internationals Tim Murtagh and George Dockrell have been named in the MCC side.
Northern Knights 1st Innings 233 (J McCollum 119 not out, E Richardson 4-33, P Chase 3-41, G Delany 3-48)
Leinster Lightning 1st innings 288 (J Tector 75, A Balbirnie 56, E Richardson 53, S Singh 40; G Kidd 3-70)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2ND INNINGS
A Dennison b Balbirnie 36
Nik Smith c Richardson b Chase 10
J McCollum c Balbirnie b Chase 38
C Dougherty lbw b Balbirnie 8
J Shannon not out 140
S Getkate lbw b Delany 3
J Matchett c Tector b Balbirnie 9
G McCarter not out 62
Extras (12b 2lb 6nb, 2w) 22
Total (6 wkts declared, 96 overs) 328
Fall: 1-33 2-75 3-103 4-103 5-133 6-166
Bowling: P Chase 14-2-57-2, E Richardson 10-2-44-0, S Singh 19-1-52-0, M Neville 8-0-52-0, G Delany 18-2-58-1, A Balbirnie 24-8-40-3, J Anderson 3-0-11-0