RANKIN RELISHING BREADY IN THE SPOTLIGHT

It’s been a huge week for Bready who hosted their first ODI on Monday, and have two further matches next week when as Ireland take on Zimbabwe in T20I’s. David Rankin has been at the club all his life coming through the ranks, and he outlined just how important the games were to the Magheramason side.

“The big thing was just the excitement. It's always great having the Ireland games here and especially having a few of the North West boys involved in it. Having the opportunity to showcase just what the club has to offer. It's a great ground with superb facilities and surroundings. Having the cameras here broadcasting the games was great and with the games next week too it's exciting times.

“It was slightly disappointing with the crowd but having the game on a Monday and the weather meant it wasn't going to be overly supported. Hopefully next time with the T20's it'll be better. T20 obviously brings in a lot more people. The games are on a Friday and a Sunday so that's suit them better.”

The 31 year-old played twice for Ireland in 2015 and 16 against Scotland and Hong Kong at Bready. How did it feel to be on the other side of the ropes this time?

“It's a long time since I made debut, and it'd be great to still be involved. It's a bit different looking at the game from the groundsman’s hut rather than in the middle but if I can help out the club in any way I'm only too happy to do so.”

Did he feel that the opportunity to add to those two caps was over, or did he still harbour international aspirations?

“As long as I'm still playing interprovincial I'm hoping to get back in the frame. Whether or not that happens is not for me to say but I'll be trying my hardest to get back in but if it doesn't happen I'll have given it my best to try and achieve that.”

Bready recorded the highest total in a NW T20 contest on Friday with 288 for 3 at Glendermott, with Rankin making a century. They won the tournament in 2017 and were beaten finalists last year. Why do the club enjoy the format so much?

“We put ourselves under a lot of pressure in the Premier League games so coming in to T20 it's off a little bit and we have a chance to play with a bit more freedom and express ourselves. We seem to thrive on it and for me personally I do enjoy T20 cricket. It suits my style of batting where I do like to be aggressive. Unfortunately this year we didn't have the best of starts but we can still make the finals day and that would be great for all the boys. We have a couple of games left and we will do our best to get over the line.”

The defending Premier League champions have flown under the radar a bit this campaign, but last week’s win at Donemana has lifted them to second place with a game in hand over leaders Brigade, whom they face this Saturday.

“After our league win last season we would have been considered one of the favourites but obviously Brigade have invested quite heavily over the winter, so they were always going to be very strong. They are the only team to have beaten us this year. Our league form has been pretty good winning five out of six and it's a bit of a momentum type thing, if you get on a run. Donemana at the weekend was a massive result for us. We had gone close up there a few times and it was great for the confidence to win that and it sets us up for Saturday against Brigade.”

The loss of Irish international Craig Young was a massive blow to the club, but others have stepped up and filled the breach. The game is a must-win for Bready if they are to stay in contention to retain the title.

“Craig was a massive player for us over the past couple of years. he brings so much with not only his bowling but also his batting. We probably miss that as much if not more. But a couple of players have filled the gap, with Marcus Poskitt joining us from Coleraine, and Ross Dougherty is having a great season too.

"We have a lot of very good cricketers in the team and I think we will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season. “Brigade have certainly got of to a flier, but we have got a game in hand and if we win then it sets us up right alongside them. Saturday is a massive game and we go in to it as underdogs, but confidence is high in the squad and we are really looking forward to giving it a good go on Saturday.”