A DAY of two halves at Comber ended in a superb North West Warriors recovery to give them the upper hand going into the second day of the opening first-class fixture of the season.

Twenty minutes before tea, Northern Knights had reduced the visitors to 98-7 but, remarkably, they would have no more success as Ballyspallen’s Graham Kennedy and Coleraine professional Graham Hume have so far added 136, just two runs short of the Interprovincial Championship record for the eighth wicket.

Kennedy loves batting at The Green. In the corresponding fixture last year, he posted his highest first-class score of 63; yesterday he topped that and resumes this morning 73 not out, having already faced 176 balls.

At the other end, Hume pressed the accelerator as soon as he arrived in the middle — the first 98 runs had used up 63 overs — and the South African is unbeaten on 54 with seven boundaries from 105 balls.

It was a rescue operation after a painful first session and a half when only Brendon Louw, the Ballyspallen professional, held up the rampant and parsimonious Knights attack.

Ireland international Mark Adair got through 22 overs for only 36 runs, but while disappointed not to get anything in the wicket-taking column, he was one of the bowlers who saw a number of edges fall just short of the slips.

Gary Wilson kept at least two — and at times four — slips in place throughout the day, although only one catch went to hand. Indeed, of the seven wickets, the only other caught behind was when Shane Getkate found the edge of Aaron Gillespie’s bat and Neil Rock, keeping again rather than Wilson, held a straightforward catch.

Adair’s opening bowling partner, Graham McCarter, was the other workhorse, sending down 23 overs, although he too was wicketless after getting the prize scalp of Ireland captain William Porterfield, trapped in front on the back foot, with his seventh ball of the day.

The other pace bowler on view was Knights debutant Matthew Foster, playing only his second first-class game.
He took the wicket of Ross Allen, caught at second slip from his first ball, and then bowled David Rankin, at which stage Warriors were 36 for four.

Harry Tector, still waiting on an Ireland call, outbowled Test player James Cameron-Dow on the day. Indeed, the latter had to be satisfied with just one, two and three overs in the three sessions, while Tector bowled 23 overs with confidence after taking a wicket with his second ball.

And it wasn’t just any wicket, it was Warriors skipper Andy McBrine, back to lead the side after missing the shock win in the one-day match against Knights at Stormont on Monday. But the Ireland international had scored only five from 32 balls when Tector breached his defence and Warriors went into lunch at 61-5.

The middle session was attritional fare with just 37 runs scored in the first 30 overs as Louw, eventually bowled by Tector for 38 off 113 balls, and 17-year-old Kyle Magee on his Warriors debut dug in.

Magee, the Brigade right-hander, showed plenty of promise as he battled it out, facing 110 balls for his 26, and only fell when attempting a slog sweep to give Tector his third wicket of the day.

It may be too early for Magee to force his way into the Ireland Wolves squad just yet but there is an Emerging Warriors side to be selected to face the Emerging Knights at Moylena in two one-day games next Tuesday and Wednesday, and that will be another shop window for his undoubted talent.