A WEEK before the teams meet in the semi-final of the Challenge Cup, CIYMS have joined Waringstown at the top of the Robinson Services Premier League.
A crushing 200 runs victory over Muckamore at Belmont was their fourth consecutive win since they lost on the opening day of the season and they would appear to be perfectly placed to continue their push for the league crown which has eluded them since 2012, last year by 0.2 of a run.
An unchanged batting line-up is producing the goods, with different players top scoring each week and Allen Coulter and Nigel Jones are currently the most potent new ball bowlers around.
Ryan Hunter led the way with the bat on Saturday, with 67, sharing a fourth wicket stand of 109 with Matt McGillivray who was happy to play second fiddle until dismissed for 43. Hunter followed almost immediately but Jason van der Merwe took over to score the second half century of the innings, hitting 57 of the next 100 runs which took CI to an imposing 283-9 in their 50 overs.
Coulter (3-18) and Jones (2-12) then set to work, bowling unchanged for 17 overs as Muckamore were reduced to 23-5 and Jacob Mulder then finished the job with 4-37 as the visitors were bowled out in the 34th over with Richard Keates, from No 9, top scoring with 27.
CI’s only defeat was by North Down but that seems a lifetime ago as the Comber side crashed to a fourth successive heavy defeat on Saturday and are now just one win clear of Muckamore and Armagh at the bottom.
Carrickfergus were the latest sided to take advantage of their ‘friendly’ bowling to pass North Down’s inadequate 188 in just 29 overs.
Neil Hornbuckle, replacing his fellow South African until Pat Botha returns from a broken thumb in two weeks’ time, hit 99 off 82 balls with 14 fours and a six and shared a devastating partnership of 162 in just 21 overs with Michael Gilmour, who enjoyed his new role in the middle order, hitting 76 off 53 balls with nine fours and two sixes.
Ruhan Pretorius, run out on 97, and Stuart Nelson (48) put on 126 off North Down total after a Anthony Martin (4-30) had ripped out the top order and Daniel Poulton (3-20) did the same at the end. The less said about the North Down bowling the better, Mike Grossett the glorious exception with 1-11 from seven overs with the new ball.
In the other Premier League game, Civil Service North claimed their second successive win in some comfort, captain James Kennedy hitting 75 not out at The Mall in his side’s 220-9 and then watching all five bowlers he called on take wickets as Armagh were bowled out for 88 in 30 overs.
Kennedy came to the wicket in the 13th over at 43-2 and was still there 108 balls later. His fourth wicket stand of 101 with Aaron Wright (45) laid the platform for a big finish, as CSN added 64 from the last 10 overs despite Shadley van Schalkwyk taking three wickets in his last seven balls to finish with 5-41.
But Graham McCarter (4-12) ended his potential threat with the bat, clean bowled for four, the third of his four wickets in 23 balls, to reduce the home side to 35-5. Game over.