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Northern Knights facing selection dilemma ahead of Leinster clash

 

By Ian Callender

Northern Knights do not have their sorrows to seek at the moment. For the second time in seven days, their Inter-provincial Cup game was abandoned as a no result and last night the selectors were ringing round to finalise a squad of 12 for the first-class fixture against Leinster Lightning starting today at Stormont (11am).

Lee Nelson is the latest injury woe for a Knights side already without Stephen Bunting, Jacob Mulder and the unavailable Greg Thompson, after the Waringstown all-rounder turned up at Belmont yesterday with a suspected broken toe.

Nelson was hit by a yorker from Muckamore's Neil Gill on Saturday in the Premier League game at Moylena - and to compound his agony he was then given out leg before wicket!

Knights called in his young Waringstown team-mate Morgan Topping for the 50-over cup game but they have replaced him with John Matchett, who will make his debut in today's Championship game. Carrickfergus's Jamie Holmes has been called up as 12th man.

The weather probably saved the Knights from defeat after Lightning posted 299 for eight - heavy rain arrived during the lunch break and the game never resumed - after John Anderson won the toss and, surprisingly, chose to bat first.

At least it allowed everyone at Belmont - probably, secretly, the Knights players as well - a chance to watch Ed Joyce in action. While a couple of players were making their List A debut in the game, the former Middlesex and Sussex professional was playing his 303rd such game and he scored his 17th century in another classy innings.

Joyce reached 50 for the 73rd time in the grand manner, with a six-over long-on, and by the time he brought up his hundred, he had also hit eight fours from 111 balls, content to accumulate and find the gaps.

He gave one life, to mid-wicket on 87, before throwing his wicket away in the 43rd over, miscuing an attempted pull off Nathan Smith. But to be fair to Jack Tector the innings wasn't all about Joyce. The former Ireland Under-19 captain also showed his talent and put his hand up for higher honours with a solid half-century from 74 balls in a first wicket partnership of 131 in 27 overs which put Lightning on course for a total of 300.

They failed by one run thanks mainly to Shane Getkate who is taking wickets for fun since his controversial move from Instonians two weeks into the season.

After seven wickets in his last two league games, he had figures of five for 43 in his first bowl in a List A game, hitting the stumps three times. His victims were all current internationals - Andrew Balbirnie, Kevin O'Brien and Simi Singh - having already had John Anderson caught off a skyer at cover.

Then, with his last ball, he had Lorcan Tucker caught from another miscue and, just for good measure, his accurate throw from the boundary ran out George Dockrell in the last over.

In this form, Getkate is one Knights player who will be looking forward to facing Lightning again this week as he continues his push for promotion to the next level. As Ireland Wolves captain he is in pole position, and although he has to wait until the end of the month for his next Wolves action, a good three days at Stormont will do his claims no harm at all.

Tector will be one of six players making their first class debut for Lightning today but as four of the others have all been capped by Ireland - Tucker, Singh, Eddie Richardson and Tyrone Kane - as usual it will be a formidable Lightning team starting the defence of their three-day title.

Completing Leinster's line-up will be either Leinster all-rounder Gareth Delaney, who was 12th man yesterday, or Merrion's teenage pace bowler Max Neville, on his first call-up to the senior squad.

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