Johnny Morton (News Letter)
CIYMS know that two wins this weekend would seal their first Robinson Services Premier League title since 2012, and they are going to have to do it the hard way as they travel to Waringstown tomorrow before hosting CSNI on Sunday.
Waringstown and Instonians have had a stranglehold on the title for the past five seasons, but Nigel Jones’ side look to be bringing that to an end after a fantastic 2018 campaign which has seen them lose only one game in 10 to date.
A victory over reigning champions Waringstown at The Lawn would put them 12 ahead with three to play, and with such a superior run-rate that should be enough, but they would mathematically seal it in front of their home crowd by picking up four points against third-placed CSNI.
The Belmont side beat CSNI last weekend, with a 94 run partnership between Matt McGillivray and Jacob Mulder guiding them to a crucial win after it looked like they were second favourites for a while.
Captain Jones was always confident they would win the game, and he believes it sets them up nicely for the coming weekend.
“It would have given Waringstown a bit of a boost and made life a bit tougher for us,” he said.
“We generally felt we were winning last weekend. (Andre) Malan had a decent spell with the ball and they put all their eggs in one basket knowing they probably had to get us in real trouble to force the win.
“We went a bit hard at him and tried to hit him out of the attack, and he bowls straight and gets the ball to do a bit.
“He picked up a couple of us, me included, which made life a bit tough. It was a good scrapping win through the middle of our innings, and we finished off relatively comfortably.
“It was a good one for us to get in the bank and set us up for the weekend ahead.”
South African McGillivray has played a couple of important innings in recent weeks, hitting 51 off 21 balls against Waringstown combined with his 64* at Stormont last weekend.
After a season of maybe relying on a couple of players too much, Jones is happy to see his batting line-up firing in 2018.
“Last season there was a reliance on Matt and I to score most of the runs, and Doc (Chris Dougherty) was doing what he does.
“The difference this year is that guys are in form with the bat and hitting runs. He had a slightly quieter patch through June and July, so we thought we would drop him back to six and give Ryan Hunter and Jason van der Merwe the chance at four and five, and it has worked out well.
“It means when we are doing well, he is coming in the last 10 overs and he has showed in a couple of innings that he can score a quick-fire 50.
“He came in when we were in a bit of trouble on Saturday, and he is a quality pro that he is able to get us out of it.”
Jones will be looking to lead CIYMS to a fourth consecutive league win over Waringstown, and insists that is where their full focus will be.
“Our full attention is on Waringstown on Saturday. Sunday will come when Sunday comes.
“We have been good in the league on focusing on the game in front of us, and so far it has been working. This weekend will be no different.
“We will focus on getting a result on Saturday away to Waringstown and then look towards Sunday.”