Ian Callender's Saturday Roundup
Ian Callender (Sunday Life)
Lisburn's fate is no longer in their own hands after they lost the only Robinson Services Premier League game of the day to North Down by 97 runs.
The Wallace Park side remain four points above Instonians and Muckamore at the bottom of the table but now have only two games left, while Instonians have six and Muckamore four, the first of those today against Lisburn.
It looks to be a must-win 20-over Match 2 for the visitors to Moylena but they will have former England player Darren Stevens in the team once again.
Stevens, who played against Ireland at the Hong Kong Sixes in 2011 – he faced three balls and hit them all, off John Mooney, for six – was signed on Thursday as a replacement professional for Faiz Fazal who has been called back to India. He took three wickets for 25 on his NCU debut in Comber yesterday but failed to improve the Lisburn batting, which has struggled all season.
Stevens, currently on loan from Kent to Derbyshire to play in the T20 Blast, hit Peter Davison for four but was bowled next ball for 11 and despite Reinhardt Strydom’s defiant 34 from 59 balls, Lisburn were bowled out for 117.
While every other top flight game in the NCU, and the entire North West programme, was wiped out, mainly by yesterday’s rain, The Green in Comber once again proved as oasis with the ground standing up to the worst the weather could throw at it.
There was a still a delayed start, reducing the game to 47 overs but two interruptions for rain, after nine balls and, again, in the 23rd over, took a further nine overs out of each innings.
North Down still needed an unbroken last wicket stand of 31 to see out their 38 overs, Ryan Haire finishing 48 not out from 28 balls, but that was enough to elevate Lisburn’s target from 204 to 215.
Craig Young struck in the first over, Ruhan Pretorius in his fourth and when Davison took the wickets of Stevens and Lisburn skipper Adam Berry in four balls, the result was already a formality. It could have been even worse for Lisburn because Berry was actually bowled first ball but Davison had overstepped.
The margin of victory was so comfortable that Lisburn’s fielding could be forgotten but it was certainly not Premier League standard with repeated fumbles and a couple of dropped catches doing them no favours.
The key partnership was 103 between Pretorius and Jamie Magowan but either side of that North Down didn’t give the impression they will force CIYMS to win four of their last five games to win the title.
North Down were due to play Instonians today, back at The Green, switched from unplayable Shaw’s Bridge, but the match was called off last night when even North Down had to admit the square couldn’t cope with two matches in quick succession following yesterday’s rain.