After kicking their campaign off with a narrow victory over Waringstown, Instonians captain Andrew White is looking his side to go up another gear when they face CSNI and North Down this weekend.
It was the best possible start to the season for the Shaws Bridge outfit as they defended their total of 148/5 with Waringstown falling three runs short.
White’s men will face North Down on Sunday in the Twenty20 Cup first round but before that is a trip to Stormont where they’ll take on a CSNI side that are coming off an opening day loss to CIYMS.
Last Saturday’s performance was a mixed one in White’s eyes but he believes they did enough to earn the four points.
“We played well enough to earn the win I think, but was I happy with the performance? I thought we did well to get 150-odd on a tricky pitch but to conceded 100 runs in our last 11 overs was pretty disappointing,” he said.
“When you’re playing against the likes of a Waringstown who have strength in depth, you have to be accurate for a lot longer if you’re going to be successful.
“We did enough to get over the line but against North Down and Civil Service this weekend, we will have to be more accurate for longer.”
There were three teenagers in Instonians top four with Olly Metcalfe, debutant Marcus Poskitt and James Hunter all handed the responsibility of setting their side a winning score. It is likely that trio will have a big role to play for the rest of this season and White believes they are developing into batsmen that could cause nightmares in the coming years.
“Our top four with (Shane) Getkate at the top, and everyone knows what he is, then Metcalfe, Poskitt and Hunter at two, three and four is great,” he added.
“You’ve Nikolai (Smith) and Ben Rose to come in, Rob McKinley has experience and myself. It’s a good blend.
“I was excited with the way we went about our batting and I’m excited about what the guys can offer.
“Sometimes when you play against players there is a certain way to bowl at them and over the years you get to know how to bowl at them.
“The young guys in our side have the potential to be very difficult to bowl at. They are improving year on year and they’ve a wider range of shots every year.
“That’s exciting from my point of view that irrespective of who is bowling or the conditions, in time they’ll have a game that is able to adapt and that’s when you become a really good side.”
Smith (58*) was the main contributor, scoring his runs from 40 deliveries and smashing five sixes in the middle order. The 27-year-old usually opens in the longer format but has become used to a role further down the order in Twenty20 cricket and White says his game is still progressing.
“It was more a case of getting the three young guys up to the top,” he said. “Nikolai might even bat lower than that depending on the situation, on the opposition or how the competition is going.
“Nikolai has added another string to his bow. He would have been seen as a 50-over or longer format player that batted time, but on Saturday it was evident that his game has progressed.
“He hit five sixes and previously if he had hit five sixes in two seasons he would have been delighted and telling us all about it! He has progressed his game.”
Hunter was able to hold his nerve in the final over to secure victory and followed that up by scoring 55 in a Northern Knights practice game on Monday.
“Whenever I was trying to give him some advice he was sort of shooing me away because he had a clear idea in his head what he was going to do,” added White.
“That’s what I’ve been really trying to instil in the guys – I might be captain by name but in many ways the bowler has to run the show.
“James knew exactly what he was doing and backed himself to execute.
“That’ll do him the world of good because when you have battles like that and come out the other side, especially against someone of Greg’s standard who has been so successful in T20 cricket, that’ll do him the power of good.”
After a solid start, White will be looking for more accuracy and a better batting performance this weekend in their double-header.
“We were saying after the game how one or two players in a T20 game can take it away from you,” he said.
“It’s like starting again this weekend. We know the strengths that Civil Service have.
“They are missing a couple in Gary (Wilson) and Thommo (Stuart Thompson) but with the likes of Graeme McCarter there and Marc Ellison at the top of the order, they are a dangerous outfit and we will have to be more accurate and bat better.
“When someone gets to 20 in the top order you really need them to go on because if someone can get 60 or 70 in club cricket, you’re going to be hard to beat.”