Johnny Morton (News Letter)
Weekends don’t come much tougher than facing CIYMS and Waringstown in the space of two days - but CSNI captain James Kennedy is up for the challenge.
Leaders CIYMS visit Stormont in the Robinson Services Premier League on Saturday, before second-placed Waringstown rock into town on Sunday.
After a poor start to the league season, CSNI now sit third in the league after winning three in a row, and Kennedy knew they would always show their true form at some point.
“We knew it was just a matter of time before we clicked in the league,” he said.
“We had a couple of bad results early on, and the league is so tight that if you lose a couple early it can be hard to catch up. We have done a good job to be sitting in third at the minute, but it will be a real fight to hold onto that.
“It’s very much a different team from last season, and it does take the boys a little while to gel.
“We have great team spirit and people who weren’t contributing at the start of the season maybe are now with both bat and ball, and that has helped us massively.
“In the past, we lost a couple of silly wickets or made a couple of mistakes and we sacrificed a win.”
With the likes of Archie Johnston, Morgan Topping, Matthew Foster and Aaron Wright all under 22, CSNI are building a bright squad for the future.
A season of playing in the top flight will have helped them massively, and Kennedy is looking forward to an exciting 2019.
“It was very important when we were preparing for this year.
“We weren’t just looking at this year, but also what was coming after that.
“We are fortunate that we have a few young guys coming through who are doing a great job for us with bat and ball.
“This year isn’t over yet, but next year we are expecting an exciting time and we have a great unit.
“It’s good fun and a great changing room to be apart of,” he said.
“Hopefully that will carry through to next year and we will hit the ground running rather than a few hiccups early on.”
Kennedy also sees this stage of the season as a prime opportunity to give fringe players a chance to show what they can do.
“It’s going to be a real tough run in for us.
“We have CIYMS twice, Waringstown and North Down, so it doesn’t come much tougher than that.
“All games in the Premier League are tough and we know we have enough quality players in our squad that we will show a good account of ourselves.
“At this stage of the season with a few unavailable, it gives us a chance to look at a few fringe players and they could stake a claim for next year as well.
“It’s a good opportunity to play cricket against some good teams.”