There was plenty of food for thought for the Northern Knights selectors at the weekend, not least at Shaw’s Bridge where Adam Dennison played one of the innings of the season so far.
The 21-year-old Waringstown batsman radiated class. He top scored for the villagers with 116 from only 124 balls, hitting 17 fours and one six, as they beat Instonians in a thrilling Premier League match.
But that only tells a fraction of the story. It was the way in which Dennison scored the runs that captivated. A bit like James Shannon, the Northern Knights captain who missed the game because of a back spasm, Dennison is one of the those batsmen who keeps bums on seats, you simply wouldn’t contemplate leaving the ground while he’s at the crease. Despite being small in stature, he has no trouble clearing the infield and almost always scores at close to a run-a-ball, A very modern batsman who can improvise for the T20 era while also playing delightfully orthodox shots, he has just about everything in his locker, as well as being a brilliant fielder.
As one of his team-mates said on Saturday, Dennison has that annoying habit of being good at every sport he plays. A good footballer, his golf handicap is coming down all the time, he’s even the best darts player at The Lawn. With perhaps only Shannon among NCU batsmen boasting a better all-round game right now, he should be a cert for the Northern Knights, one of the first names on the team sheet. And yet on Friday night at Stormont against the North West Warriors, his name was a glaring omission.
Work commitments have prevented Dennison training with the Knights over the winter and the selectors therefore did not feel able to pick him. The coach, Simon Johnston, desperately wants him back and understandably so. It’s time the Knights recalled Dennison and hopefully taking part will whet his appetite for the interprovincial game once again. Someone as talented as him should be on the very brink of Ireland selection. The Knights selectors will also have noted two other weekend centuries in the Irish Cup. Marc Ellison, the New Zealand-born opener who trained with the Knights over the winter, helped Civil Service beat Bready at Magheramason with 131 and more remarkable still was the ton from Muckamore’s Craig Drummond.
Muckamore were in dire trouble at Malahide, reeling at 48 for six, chasing a highly unlikely 213 to win against the Leinster side. What were the odds then on a Muckamore victory? But with skipper Neil Gill (a man who is never beaten) for company, Drummond turned the tie on his head with a unbeaten 108. It all started with a century partnership with Gill for the seventh wicket, before the lower order helped Drummond over the line with 11 balls and one wicket to spare. At a time when the Knights are picking two young Dubliners in their starting 11, it was a telling reminder that the NCU boasts talent of its own.