Ryan Hunter has big shoes to fill if he makes his Inter-provincial Cup debut for North West Warriors today in the title decider against Munster Reds at Eglinton (10.45am).
Hunter is the player called up by Warriors head coach Boyd Rankin to replace William Porterfield for their final match of the season, and their first since the retirement of the former Ireland captain.
“I’d a good chat with Boyd, and he asked me what my feelings were. I haven’t been available because I had started a new job (in Altnagelvin Hospital) and I couldn’t really commit but now I’ve settled in the job and I know when the games are so I can sort my shifts out to suit,” said Hunter.
“Boyd told me there was now a vacant space with Porterfield retiring and asked if I was keen to get involved. I said I was. It was a little surprising to be asked but with my form I knew I was in with a shout. But of all the men to try and replace!”
His form for Newbuildings this season could not be ignored. The former Donemana, Brigade and CIYMS batsman has already hit 619 runs at an average of 76, including three centuries. Indeed, he hasn’t been dismissed for less than 70 runs in his last five innings.
“If I get selected, I won’t be under any pressure,” added Hunter.
“I’ll just play my own game and do what I’ve been doing all season, that’s the way I’m going to approach it and hopefully it clicks.
“It’s been working all season and if I keep doing what I’m doing the runs will keep coming.”
Hunter has been training with the Warriors this season — he wasn’t available for yesterday’s session because he was working but “I had a hit on Wednesday night with Boyd and a few of the Emerging Warriors” — and is in a good place to resume a stop-start representative career which adds up to a total of four T20s, in four different years, and a three-day game against Northern Knights in 2016.
The Warriors are also in a good place this season, with Hunter the only change to the squad which is second to the Reds in the table but with the chance to leapfrog them today and claim the only provincial competition they have never won.
The Reds, though, have been the team to beat this season — the Warriors the only side to do so, in Cork in May — and with a full-strength line-up, including six internationals, they know that a win or no result will give them their first inter-provincial trophy.
Meanwhile, the Future Series — the competition below inter-provincial level — finally got under way yesterday after three abandoned games and it was a horror start for the Emerging Knights, who were bowled out for 109 by Munster Heat in North Kildare.
Brandon Kruger, who has been part of the Munster senior set-up this season, took five for 13 in his 10 overs in a Knights innings where the highest partnership was 34 for the first wicket between Paddy Beverland and Olly Metcalfe, who was second top scorer with 13.
Last night’s Lagan Valley Steels T20 Cup game at Belmont was rained off but the no result confirmed CIYMS’ place in finals day from Group A along with Carrickfergus, who will top the group if they beat Woodvale tonight.
Waringstown and Civil Service North have already qualified from Group B and whoever wins their game at The Lawn tonight will play the runners-up in Group A in the semi-final.
Squads – North West Warriors: A McBrine (capt), S Doheny, S Getkate, G Hume, R Hunter, G Kennedy, W McClintock, N McGuire, S Macbeth, R Macbeth, C Young, C Olphert, J Wilson.
Munster Reds: PJ Moor (capt), T Kane, K O’Brien, C Campher, G Delany, D Delany, M Ford, F Hand, M Frost, L McCarthy, A Frost, C Hassett
The Maws: Emerging Knights 109 (37.5 overs, P Beverland 24; B Kruger 5-13, E O’Sullivan 2-29) Munster Heat 113-3 (28 overs, A Sighir 59 not out, C Hassett 27). Munster Heat won by 7 wickets.
Tonight (6.00pm): LVS T20 Cup: Woodvale v Carrickfergus, Lisburn v Instonians (6.15pm), Waringstown v Civil Service North
Graham Cup Final: CIYMS v Civil Service North (Belmont)
White Horse Hotel T20 Cup (6.30pm): Strabane v Bonds Glen, St Johnston v Eglinton, Bready v Coleraine.