Academy battle to Schools' Cup glory
Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
Max Burton played through the pain of an injured shoulder to win the man of the match award and help Belfast Royal Academy to their third Ulster Bank Schools Cup triumph in five years.
Burton, who played as a third-former in BRA’s first triumph in 2015, scored 82 of his school’s target of 171 but following his dismissal, immediately after the drinks interval, he was grateful for his team-mates to see them across the line, with three wickets to spare; Ollie Parkes hitting the winning runs with 27 balls to spare.
But Burton’s injury has denied him a senior inter-provincial debut with North West Warriors today. The Carrickfergus wicket-keeper had been called up by the Warriors late on Thursday night as all other specialist options were ruled out by unavailability or injury.
But Burton aggravated his left shoulder, on which he has had surgery, getting out of bed yesterday and spent the hours up to the cup final at hospital. Painkillers got him through yesterday’s game – he doesn’t keep wicket for the school – but he has no chance of keeping for three successive days so had to pull out.
David Rankin is now set to take over the gloves for a Warriors side who are without William Porterfield for today’s opening game against Northern Knights, as he is at a wedding.
Burton won his personal duel with Methodist College’s star batsman James Hunter, who was caught at mid-off after facing just eight balls, but from 71-4 at halfway, a partnership of exactly 100 between Matthew Humphreys and Adam Reid gave the holders what looked to be a competitive 170 from their 35 overs.
But although only Burton, BRA’s top five batsmen reached double figures, they still had 115 on the board when the opener drove straight to mid-on in the 19th over, having hit eight fours and four sixes from 58 balls.
One player who did not deserve to be on the losing side was Matthew Humphreys who followed up his unbeaten 42 with 3-25, including the wicket of Burton.