Civil Service North threw a lifeline to Waringstown and Lisburn in the race for the Ulster Bank League title yesterday with a six wicket victory over North Down at Comber.
It was the Comber side’s last home game of the season but the batsmen, finally, had an off-day as captain Peter Shields top-scored with 55 in his side’s 194 for eight. That should never be a winning total on the best batting strip in the country — 593 runs were scored the previous day as North Down beat Carrickfergus by 11 runs — and 86 from Nigel Jones ensured it wasn’t.
Although the Ireland international, in his last club game of the season was out with 40 still wanted, Ewen Thompson, who didn’t bowl because of a back injury, was held back to No 5 and 17 off 12 balls hurried CSN to their victory target. Paddy Fisher, with 61, was still there when Allan Coulter hit the winning boundary with nine balls to spare.
North Down should still win the league — victories in their last two games will be enough — but suddenly visits to Ballymena and CIYMS are potential landmines for the would-be champions.
Waringstown beat CIYMS in yesterday’s other game to join Lisburn in joint second place, still six points behind, but both teams know that whoever wins their last three games can claim the title with one slip-up by the leaders.
They meet at The Lawn next Sunday the day after the Villagers’ home game against already relegated Lurgan and Lisburn’s game at Carrickfergus.
CIYMS’ party on Saturday night did not seem such a good idea by 1.30pm yesterday when they were bowled out for 64. Simon Harrison bowled his 10 overs straight through and had figures of five for 38. Craig McMillan with 30 was the only CI batsmen who reached double figures, indeed extras was second top score with nine.
When McCallan goes early, even the smallest total seems a problem for Waringstown and yesterday five men followed him back to the pavilion before the home side claimed victory in the 20th over as Ryan Hanna took four wickets.
On Saturday, McCallan scored exactly 100 as Waringstown beat Downpatrick by 47 runs — second top score was 27 — and Lisburn defeated Instonians by 46 runs with David Simpson making a welcome return to form with the bat. Apart from his 41 only the reliable Yasas Tillakaratne (55) made a significant contribution.