CIYMS

  • Captain: Nigel Jones
  • Players in: David Miller from Muckamore
  • Players out: Ryan Hunter (Brigade), Obus Pienaar (overseas pro)
  • Player to watch: John Matchett - "player who is starting to grow in confidence at the top of the order. Has played a number of match winning performances in recent times. He was outstanding in the inaugural All-Ireland T20 competition where his displays set up dominant wins in both the semi-final and final.

Although CIYMS won’t get the chance to defend two of the four titles they won last season, captain Nigel Jones says his side won’t let their focus slip as they get ready to enter the 2020 campaign.

The Belmont club had the best season in their history last time out as they picked up the Premier League, Gallagher Challenge Cup, Lagan Valley Steels Twenty20 Cup and All-Ireland Twenty20 Cup.

They will get the opportunity to regain the LVS Twenty20 Cup, where they face a first round clash with newly-promoted Woodvale, in its new knockout format for this season and the All-Ireland crown after Cricket Ireland announced on Tuesday it would still take place.

CIYMS played 31 competitive games across five competitions last season and while they have become accustomed to busy schedules, the maximum amount they could face this year is 12.

Regardless of the lack of matches, Jones says his team are just happy to have the chance to be back on the pitch after a period where it didn’t look like any cricket would be possible.

(CIYMS captain Nigel Jones)

“The boys have been back for the last week or since we got that sign off and they’ve hit the ground running,” he said. “It’s been such a long break and the boys have been itching to get back. Everyone is just delighted to be getting some cricket.

“There is a lot of work that goes on. I’m an active committee member myself and part of our Covid committee so I’m fully aware of the work that has gone in – it isn’t a quick process.

“We’ve done everything that we have needed to do and the boys are grateful for the work that has went in.”

The league campaign will be known as the Robinson Services Cup for the 2020 season and will be contested in a Twenty20 format. After winning two T20 competitions last season and their squad packed with internationals, Jones has every right to be confident ahead of their opener against CSNI on July 18 but believes it could also bring more teams into the equation.

“We have been pretty strong in T20 over the last couple of seasons and made it more of a focus,” he added.

“The boys are keen to play it. We will be in the same boat as most clubs with no overseas professional but we have a strong squad with options with both bat and ball. “We are quietly confident that we can put on a pretty good show.

“Even though we have been pretty strong at it over the last couple of seasons, it can also be a bit of a lottery in terms of the toss at times and you only need a couple of opposition batsmen to come off or have a good day with the ball and you can get beaten easily enough.

“It certainly makes it more competitive. You look at the teams that are playing, they all look like strong short-format teams.”

The Challenge Cup is the competition that players look forward to most and it’ll be the first time since 1918 that it hasn’t been contested. CIYMS have made no secret of their desire to collect a maiden Irish Senior Cup crown but that is also set to be scrapped amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have to just accept it for what it is,” said Jones. “We are happy as a squad just to be getting cricket first and foremost.

“From a personal perspective you know how much I love the Challenge Cup and it’s been good to me but there isn’t much we can do.

“I’m pleased it isn’t being sacrificed in terms of being played as a Twenty20 competition. It deserves its place in 50-over cricket and we have to take it on the chin that it isn’t going to be happening.

“From an All-Ireland perspective, it makes sense not to push the boat out too far.

“There mightn’t be any of the big traditional cup competitions but I think this new format in the main league will be fun and teams will certainly be trying to win it.

“The knockout cup is a bit different. That could be a bit more of a lottery without the group games and it’s one we will really need to make sure we are switched on for.”

Even though there will be a lack of competitive cricket with the reduced calendar this season, Jones says his men will be just as driven in any game they play.

“As more information has come out about what the competitions are going to be and as we get closer, the boys will start to focus their mind a bit more,” he added.

“Initially we were waiting to see what was happening and we would be happy to play some cricket even if there was nothing riding on it.

“Now that there’s a knockout T20 cup that has focused us already.

“I hate losing so as a captain I will be making sure that we aren’t daydreaming when it comes to the games we play.”