Johnny Morton (News Letter)
To say that the 2018 season has been a dream campaign for Templepatrick Cricket Club would probably be an understatement.
Their Firsts are celebrating a tremendous treble after winning every single game they played in this season, while the Seconds and Thirds have also both been promoted.
Ross Bryans’ side had been threatening to produce something special after finishing third in Section Two last season, and he says everything has come together perfectly.
“We have gone from strength to strength,” said Bryans. “We got two new players for this season which really helped, and most of all it has been loyalty from the players. No one has moved away and it is the same team every week. Also, the youth structure is great and we had some of the U-15 players performing well for the Firsts. It’s been a mix of all those three elements.”
They will now be moving into Section One alongside Ballymena, with the last time they played in the division coming in 2015. There is a sense of unfinished business for Bryans - and he is aiming high.
“I don’t think we deserved to get relegated a couple of years ago when we were in Section One,” he said.
“We were beating big enough teams, and even when we played Instonians in the cup, we put 220 on against them and it showed we could play at the standard. Hopefully we can keep the same team together, and I feel that if we put our strongest team out, then we can beat anyone in the league.”
After hitting 614 runs and taking 50 wickets, Bryans was the best player in the league this season, but he still remains one of the youngest captains in the NCU at just 22. This year was his third in the role, and it is a part of his overall game that he feels has improved this season.
“I think in the first year I was captain I struggled to find my feet,” he said. “This year, it has been a stepping stone, especially in the big games like the Junior Cup final and the game against Cliftonville Academy which was like a league decider for us.
“My captaincy has come on, and hearing from guys on my team saying I did a good job is really good to hear. The time and effort is coming out the other end and it’s gone to show by us being unbeaten in three competitions this year.”
His season doesn’t stop here, as on September 26 he will depart for New Zealand to play for a club in Taranaki.
“Last year we had a guy over playing with us from New Plymouth in Taranaki,” he explained.
“I got talking to him, and going to play in either Australia or New Zealand is something that I’ve always wanted to do. It’s going to be a real good standard that I’m playing at. There are quite a few guys out there playing first class cricket.
“It’s a good chance to get more experience and play against people who are playing at a high level.”