Johnny Morton (News Letter)
The sight of Ruhan Pretorius producing match-winning performances in the Northern Cricket Union is one that local fans are set to enjoy for years to come with the South African due to stay in Northern Ireland on a full-time basis.
Pretorius first came to play in the NCU back in 2015 with Waringstown before joining North Down in 2017, where he is currently in his third season.
The 28-year-old was in fine form once again on Saturday as he struck 56* from 55 deliveries in North Down’s 97-run win over Lisburn at Comber. He would become eligible to play for Ireland in 2021.
And if he can continue performing in a similar vein which saw him hit 96 for the Northern Knights last Monday, you couldn’t put the possibility of international honours beyond him.
"I got my visa sorted so hopefully the winter won’t be too cold,” he said. “I’m excited about what the future holds for myself and my career going forward.”
Pretorius has been in exceptional form for the Comber side this season, scoring 789 runs at an average in excess of 56 in addition to 28 wickets over 18 matches. That form has continued into his brief stint with the Knights and the Inter-Provincial experience is one that Pretorius is enjoying.
“It’s been brilliant,” he added. “The boys have been very welcoming and it’s been really enjoyable.
“I’ve played under Jonty (Simon Johnston) as a coach at Waringstown so it’s been fun to play under him again.
“It’s a good standard and it’s exactly where I want to be playing.”
Pretorius is set to average over 50 for the fourth consecutive season and if he can keep performing for North Down’s last three league games, they could have the chance to lift their first title since 2011.
Alistair Shields’ men currently trail league leaders and defending champions CIYMS on net run-rate and although they have played two more matches than their Belmont counterparts, the two will meet next Sunday in a rearranged Twenty20 clash.
Wherever the title ends up, this season has been a massive improvement on the 2018 campaign for North Down, who finished sixth 12 months ago and 32 points off top spot.