Festival formula works on weekend to remember
Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
GEORGE Dockrell received the Twenty20 inter-provincial Trophy from his father, Derek, the Cricket Leinster president, last night but the real winner was the idea of a Festival of cricket over a three-day weekend.
The current heatwave undoubtedly helped as the batsmen enjoyed themselves on a superb Sydney Parade pitch – the same one staged all six games – but every one of the best and available club cricketers in Ireland were present and produced a memorable exhibition which is sure to be repeated.
The fact that Munster Reds also won their first two matches – culminating in a stunning two runs victory over the champions in the final match - ensured a competitive edge to the tournament and augers well for next season. Indeed Munster Reds, rightly, will be demanding a place in the 50-over Cup competition next year as well.
Lightning, with their victory over North West Warriors on Saturday, had ensured the Trophy would be staying in Dublin for a fourth successive year but that was no excuse for losing to the upstarts from Munster yesterday.
Alright, there were seven Leinster-based players in the team, out to prove they should be in the Lightning team – but there was no complacency in the champions’ performance. This was a thoroughly deserved win over a side which included their usual high quota of Ireland internationals.
With Peter Chase rested, ahead of his trip to Scotland today with the Ireland Wolves, and Simi Singh unable to bat because of a sprained shoulder, Lightning were down to six Ireland batsmen but the damage had been done by the Munster batsmen who posted an impressive 189-5 despite YMCA’s Irish qualified Australian Oliver Gunning top scoring with only 53.
Jarred Barnes, the former Coleraine, Muckamore and Armagh professional was entrusted with the last over with Lightning needing 13 to win it nearly came unstuck when with an ‘impossible’ seven required of the last ball, he bowled an above waist high full toss which had to be called a no-ball.
With international John Anderson on strike, however, Barnes made up for his error and with a near perfect yorker from which they could manage only two runs.
With the North West Warriors, so impressive in the first half of the season in all formats, slumping to three defeats over the weekend, it was Northern Knights who finished a comfortable second to Lightning, eight points back but seven ahead of the Warriors and Reds.
Greg Thompson was the match-winner yesterday, the Waringstown captain repeating his club heroics in the shortest format with 80 off 44 balls (seven fours and five sixes) as the Knights totalled 193-6 – the second highest total of the weekend which saw a staggering 2,042 runs scored, an average innings score of 170 – against the demoralised Warriors who had lost their first two matches by six wickets and 41 runs.
Yesterday, without the injured David Scanlon, they fell 49 runs short of the Knights total with David Rankin’s 67 from 55 balls (seven fours, two sixes) only their second half half-century of the weekend; Aaron Gillespie with 80 not out against the Reds, was their best.
A T20 tournament is no place to be a bowler – not one managed more than two wickets yesterday but, to their credit, the Warriors improved each day with Ballyspallen’s Graham Kennedy finishing particularly well – and that will not have gone unnoticed by Ireland head coach Graham Ford who was present every day.