Johnny Morton (News Letter)
CSNI have won the Challenge Cup twice in the last four years, but the majority of this current squad will be looking to pick up their first winners medal.
Marc Ellison and Andre Malan have been their standout performers this season, with the former hitting 714 runs and the latter 767 runs and 37 wickets - the highest of any player in the NCU top flight.
They face Waringstown at The Green, Comber on Friday for the right to be called champions.
Here, captain James Kennedy runs you through their playing XI.
Marc Ellison - Absolutely loves batting and is very good at it! Has scored over 700 runs already this year and has the ability to get over 1000. His quality not surprisingly has seen him a regular in the Northern Knights squads. Ellie loves a cricket stat and could chat about cricket all day. Very fond of his Tazz bats.
Archie Johnston - Youngster of the team. Very tidy wicketkeeper/batsman who scored his maiden senior half century for the club last weekend. Has had a busy week of cricket, playing for both the club and the Northern Knights U17s. Geography’s not his strongest subject, he thinks South Africa is in the sub-continent!
Andre Malan - His first season with the club and he has fitted in brilliantly both on and off the pitch. On the pitch he has been key with both bat and ball as his stats of nearly 800 runs and 40 wickets prove. The only thing he likes to do more than cricket is send GIF’s in text messages.
Aaron Wright - Mr Consistent this season with the bat and was rewarded with Northern Knights selection a few weeks ago. Has also been known to get an occasional bowl. A lively figure in the changing room, never a quiet moment when Arnie’s around!
James Kennedy - Captain who can bat anywhere in the line up but currently in the middle order. Always a story up his sleeve for his team-mates of the “great Ballymena team/season of ‘98’
Morgan Topping - Has fitted well into the team in his first season. Classy looking batsman and clever spinner who had a very successful U19 World Cup campaign. Always happy to lend his skipper one of his many bats in the hope of getting off lightly during team fines.
Chris McMorran - Dangerous middle order batsman who usually scores at better than a run a ball. Bowls occasional leg breaks. Loves a cricket stat or a sporting trivia question and recently spent a year travelling to cricket matches around the world as part of the hawk eye team.
Graeme McCarter - A high quality opening seam bowler and very destructive middle order batsman. Another regular on the Northern Knights if availability allows. The only North Wester on the team who enjoys a chat to anyone who will listen about his boyhood club, Fox Lodge.
Andrew Cowden - Another player who can bat anywhere in the line up and with the ball has the knack of breaking key partnerships. Eagle eyed on match days and will always have something on you when it comes to end of match fines.
Ben Adair - High quality spinner who is closing in on 30 wickets for the season due to his clever variations in pace and flight. Buda is the ‘fines master’ of the team. Some people describe him as a bully in the role. I couldn’t comment on that but he certainly is ruthless.
Matthew Foster - The quiet man of the team and yet bowls with real aggression. Has progressed extremely well this year and was rewarded with an Irish Schools’cap. Definitely one to watch in the future. Fozzy finds the ECB ruling of only being allowed to bowl 7 overs on the bounce very frustrating. He’s looking forward to when he’s old enough to bowl all day.
Team Coach Tim Simmonite - His preparation and input during practices and matches has been appreciated by all the players and has definitely led to an improvement in results this season. Manager of the Irish Women’s cricket team and is looking forward to the up and coming Women’s World Cup in the West Indies.
Scorer Jim Bloomer - 1st XI scorer and stats man. Has scored more runs than anyone at the club this season and hopefully he will score a lot more for CSNI during this season’s cup final.
Waringstown are preparing for their first Challenge Cup final since 2014, and will be aiming to win the competition for the first time since 2013.
They beat Instonians that day at The Green, with Kyle McCallan scoring 110 and Gary Kidd taking a five wicket haul.
The Class of 2018 will be hoping to bring the trophy back to The Lawn on Friday when they take on CSNI.
Here are captain Greg Thompson’s thoughts on the 10 men he will take to the field with on July 27.
Adam Dennison - Denny has really started to deliver on his potential this year. He has got two hundreds and he often gets us off to a good start.
James Hall - James is a class act at the top of the order. He is someone who can get us off to a flying start, or can be someone we bat around. He is a big game player.
James McCollum - He is probably our classiest batsman. He hasn’t delivered yet on the club stage for us this year, but he has been scoring representative runs for fun and I’m fully expecting him to step up in a final on the big occasion.
Lee Nelson - He is Waringstown through and through - he is the heart of the team in that way. You can often see the emotion of the team written over his face.
Shaheen Khan - It’s his third year with us, and already in late-July this has been his best year. Hopefully with bat and ball he can continue to contribute to us winning silverware this year.
Marcus McClean - He is ever-improving. He is still young and this will be his first Challenge Cup final. He has the experience of the semi-final of scoring important runs, and he often does that for us.
Andrew Mitchell - Whether it is with a cricket bat or football, he is a guy for the big occasion. It’s great to be able to call on someone who has so much experience of playing in cup finals, because he has been involved with us and also Glenavon.
James Mitchell - James brings a great energy to the team. He has good control with the ball, and has a good habit of picking up key wickets - often professionals.
Gary Kidd - Loves a cup final. He took five wickets in the 2013 final, and he is a great guy to have in the changing room. He keeps everything light and keeps everyone positive.
Phil Eaglestone - Stoopy joined the same year as me, and there is no doubt that the success the team has had in the last five years is hugely down to the effort and quality he brings. He takes important wickets at key times.