Joyce blasts used pitch as Merrion lose to Waringstown
Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
THE toss may have played a big part in the result but Merrion captain Dom Joyce had no complaints about the result which confirmed Waringstown as the best team in Ireland for a record sixth successive time.
Their 85 runs victory in the Clear Currency Irish Cup final was as convincing as it sounds although the Villagers did have the advantage of bowling second on the used Stormont pitch. Still, they had to put the runs on the board and when they reached 200 it always looked enough; when Waringstown finished on 264-7 they were out of sight.
With skipper Greg Thomson having 30 overs from his slow bowlers and now four-times Irish Cup winners Kyle McCallan, Gary Kidd and Lee Nelson, even before he thought of the other player who has appeared in every winning team since 2011 James Hall – he didn’t – the holders were huge favourites at halfway.
“I wouldn’t have been wanting to chase 260 and yes, it was an important toss, but it actually didn’t spin as much as expected,” said McCallan. “Their spinners spun it more than ours! But Hall and McCollum set the game up for us (with a second wicket stand of 127) and Shaheen Khan stepped up when it really mattered.
“It’s hard to win everything all the time and we were well beaten by CIYMS in the league but this was a big target for us to try and win this for the sixth time and now we are top of the tree (passing North County’s five wins between 2001 and 2008.”
“It’s also our fourth trophy this year, pretty much with 11-12 players. It can be hard to keep going on all fronts all the time and the guys have been fatigued in the league and lost games when perhaps we shouldn’t have. Carrick beat us twice and CI beat us twice so when you lose four games you don’t deserve to win the league.
“But at the end of the day, we are the best T20 side in Ireland and now the best 50-over side in Ireland so we’ll settle for that and take great pride in it.”
Waringstown batsmen had scored only three 50s in their six previous final appearances but they matched that in one innings on Saturday, with popular South African professional Shaheen Khan signing off in style with 71 not out from 54 balls and, fittingly, took the wicket which won the final.
Thompson admitted that he will be missed next season.
“We’d love to have him back because he is a first class performer, but he’s not going to have the first class games (only current first-class players can be professionals in the Premier League),” said Thompson.
“He is quality with the bat, quality with the ball and generally quality in the field – although he dropped a grubber today - but all-round he has been an ideal professional for us and we will be sad to see him go. Hopefully our paths will cross further down the line. He is a special player, a special guy.”
Unfortunately, the pitch was the talking point through the day with Cricket Ireland – for reasons which still haven’t been explained – insisting that the final be played on one of the two pitches which had been used for two of Ireland’s one-day internationals against Afghanistan last week.
“How can you not have a new wicket for a final. It’s a showpiece occasion. Was that too much to ask?” said Joyce after the match.
“There was too much on the toss, but I’ve no complaints about the result. We’re still too reliant on John (Anderson), you almost expect him to get a hundred in every game and I got the toe-end when I felt good.”
Joyce refused to blame the loss of injured professional Poonish Mehta on their defeat but the 10 overs from Leinster’s leading wicket-taker would undoubtedly have helped the Dubliners who have now lost four of the six finals, all since 2010.
In contrast, it’s four wins out of five for Waringstown since 2011, and still the best club team in Ireland.