Ian Callender (Sunday Life)
CIYMS have eight fingers on the Robinson Services Premier League trophy after beating defending champions Waringstown by seven wickets.
A superb undefeated stand of 158, at exactly a run a ball, between Ryan Hunter and Jason van der Merwe gave CI a 12-point lead and a vastly superior net run rate with just three games remaining.
They will be crowned champions today with victory against Civil Service North or if Waringstown lose at home to Muckamore, although the weather forecast would suggest they may have to wait until Saturday, when they are away to Instonians.
But judging from the celebrations in the away dressing room at The Lawn last night, the players know they are champions in all but name — and much to Waringstown’s annoyance, the NCU agreed BEFORE yesterday’s game when an official took the trophy away from the ground.
At halfway, the Villagers thought they were in a strong position, having totalled 194-6, on a slow pitch, in an innings reduced to 42 overs by two interruptions.
Although Allen Coulter put them on the back foot with three wickets in his opening spell and the accurate Matt McGillivray added two more to reduce Waringstown to 75-5, an unbroken partnership of 114 between Greg Thompson and Kyle McCallan gave them the momentum.
They cashed in, also taking three wickets in the first 10 overs, but the rest of the match belonged to Hunter and Van der Merwe.
Both CI young guns took their average for the season over 50 with excellent discipline and a range of shots.
Hunter, such an improved batsman this season, finished 77 not out from 91 balls with 10 fours and a six and Van der Merwe pipped him with an unbeaten 79 off just 80 balls with nine fours.