Knights must act fast as rain frustrates again
Rain continues to jinx this year's Inter-provincial Championship campaign with only 43 overs possible on the first day of Northern Knights' game against Leinster Lightning at Sydney Parade yesterday. A third draw is the most likely outcome already.
In the first two games of the tournament, three of the six days were washed out and that ratio was maintained yesterday with rain forcing the teams to take an early lunch and they were unable to resume after tea.
There was still enough play for Test players James McCollum and Gary Wilson to be brought back down to earth after the high of Lord's last week, dismissed for an aggregate of 40 runs as the Knights reached 136-4 at the premature close.
It was not a Test match innings from McCollum. Indeed, the Waringstown batsman had scored nine runs by the end of the first over and, with the help of four boundaries, including one edged through the slips, he was on 24 off just 23 balls when Peter Chase found the side of his bat for the second time in the fourth over and it went straight into the hands of third slip.
Wilson was fortunate to survive his second ball when he got a deflection on a legside delivery from Tyrone Kane, but Lorcan Tucker could not hold on.
Subsequently, Wilson was more circumspect, especially after the lunch break when the heavy cloud cover, following a couple of downpours, must have reminded him of conditions on that fateful third morning at Lord's, and he and Marc Ellison played out three successive maidens.
However, when Wilson went on the attack three balls later, unable to resist a short ball from Josh Little, he pulled it into the hands of Barry McCarthy at deep mid-wicket.
After losing Instonians professional Murray Commins for a single - he took 20 balls to get off the mark and was out to his 22nd - Ellison also enjoyed himself in the first session and took three fours in an over off Chase.
However, when the runs dried up on the resumption, trying to pick up the pace again, the Civil Service North opener flashed at a wide delivery from McCarthy and Tucker made no mistake.
McCarthy, on his home ground, was the pick of the Lightning bowlers, and in his next over he had a huge appeal for a catch behind off Shane Getkate turned down, and two balls later the Ireland all-rounder survived a difficult chance in the gully to Jack Tector.
Getkate and Harry Tector have so far added 50 for the fifth wicket and will need to go big, and quickly, this morning if they are to give Knights a chance of forcing a result, although with Mark Adair, another Test player who prefers the one-day game, next in, it should be fascinating.
Only one of the Lord's starters is in the Lightning line-up because Andrew Balbirnie was taken out of the game with a back niggle, but he should be fit to play a full part in the return game at Stormont next week.
This game was switched to Pembroke more than a month ago but it was a secret to almost everyone until Lightning released their team on Friday. Embarrassingly for Cricket Ireland, they did not inform their off-site medical staff, who didn't arrive at the ground until 75 minutes after the start. They had been at Malahide, the original venue.
J McCollum c McLoughlin-Gavin b Chase 24
M Ellison c Tucker b McCarthy 36
M Commins lbw b Kane 1
G Wilson c McCarthy b Little 16
H Tector not out 29
S Getkate not out 24
Extras (2lb 4nb) 6
Total (4 wkts, 43 overs) 136
To bat: M Adair, J Manley, D Delany, J Cameron-Dow, M Foster.
Fall: 1-27 2-48 3-81 4-86
Bowling: T Kane 10-1-24-1, P Chase 8-0-51-1, J Little 7-3-20-1, B McCarthy 9-4-15-1, G Dockrell 5-1-16-0, S Singh 4-0-8-0
Leinster Lightning: J Tector, S Doheny, C McLoughlin-Gavin, S Singh, L Tucker, K O'Brien, G Dockrell, B McCarthy, T Kane, J Little, P Chase.