New sponsor gives NCU leagues a real lift
Robinson Services are the new sponsors of the Northern Cricket Union's Premier and Senior Leagues after last night announcing a three-year deal.
The Antrim-based company, which employs 1,700 people and provides services which include cleaning, security, laundry and hygiene, will also pick up sponsorship of the players' awards for batsmen who score a century and bowlers who take six wickets in an innings or a hat-trick.
David Robinson, who is a member of Muckamore CC and runs the company, said: "I am delighted to be directly involved at what is the most exciting time with Ireland's introduction to Test cricket just around the corner. I hope our support for the NCU at the highest level will in some way help to mould Test players of the future."
At inter-provincial level, the Northern Knights' first action of the season will be a three-day game against Ireland Wolves at Stormont on May 1-3, to give any Ireland squad members red-ball match preparation ahead of the Test match on May 11.
The rest of the Test match squad will be involved at the same time in the opening Hanley Energy Inter-provincial Championship clash between Leinster Lightning, captained this year by George Dockrell, and North West Warriors at Oakhill, Co Wicklow.
The Knights' first inter-pro of the season will be a Twenty20 Trophy game against the Warriors at Carrickfergus on May 18, followed 10 days later by the first 50-over Cup game between the Ulster teams at Stormont.
The Knights begin their Championship action the following day, May 29, against holders Lightning at North Down.
Once again, T20 games will be played on a Friday evening but will culminate in a weekend festival when the four teams will play their final three games at Pembroke from July 6-8.
Fixtures: Championship May 1-3 Lightning v Warriors (Oak Hill), May 29-31 Knights v Lightning (Comber), June 20-22 Warriors v Lightning (Bready), July 2-4 Knights v Warriors (Comber), July 17-19 Warriors v Knights (Bready), September 4-6 Lightning v Knights (Malahide)
Cup: May 28 Knights v Warriors (Stormont), June 4 Lightning v Knights (The Hills), June 19 Warriors v Lightning (Eglinton), July 1 Knights v Lightning (Stormont), July 16 Warriors v Knights (Eglinton), September 9 Lightning v Warriors (Rathmines)
Trophy: May 18 Knights v Warriors (Carrick), May 25 Knights v Lightning (Shaw's Bridge), Warriors v Reds (Eglinton), June 8 Warriors v Lightning (Bready), Reds v Knights (Mardyke).
Meanwhile, Ireland lost their first women's T20 international in Harare yesterday by six wickets, Zimbabwe passing their total of 101-7 with four balls to spare.
Waringstown's Cara Murray was the most successful bowler, with 2-19 in three overs.