Family affair for Muckamore
Johnny Morton (www.jmsport.co.uk)
It’ll be a family affair for Muckamore this weekend when they travel to Armagh with two sets of father and son pairings taking to the field.
Richard Keates and son Jude will be joined by Les Allen and his son Luke as the Moylena side aim to keep their unbeaten start to the league season going.
Jude has recently been named in the NCU U15 side for next week’s fixtures against Leinster and the North West while captain Sam Gordon is tipping Luke Allen to have a big say in the not too distant future.
“I don’t know if that’s happened before,” he said.
“I think it’s the first time it has happened at Muckamore on the firsts. Jude has been fantastic and was just selected for the NCU U15s.
“He is scoring runs on the 2nds. He batted on the 3rds and got 50, then moved to the 2nds and got 40 and I said we would give him a crack.
“He was unlucky on Saturday to get out to one that spat off the wicket. He’s in for another game and there’ll be big things from him in the future. Luke is going to come good in the next few games.
“You know what you get with Keatesy and Les Allen. They bring a lot of experience and it’s good to have them in the team.”
After losing so many high-profile players over the winter months, it was an unknown how Muckamore would go with a number of young players stepping up and a new captain in Gordon, but they have exceeded all expectations by kicking off with wins over Templepatrick, Cliftonville Academy, Donacloney Mill and Ballymena.
They are one of only two teams still yet to lose in the competition alongside Cregagh and Gordon is understandably delighted with how his tenure has started.
“We got off to a flier,” he added.
“I wouldn’t say I didn’t expect it but I’m very happy with where we are from the positions we were put in and the games we have won.
“We have won some close ones and the boys have been putting in a good fight.
“There is still plenty more to come from a few boys who aren’t firing so hopefully in the near future you’ll see more names on the score sheet.
“There is still plenty more for them to give. Some of them are playing their first year in the First XI so I can’t really complain.
“It’s just about pushing on from that and hopefully this is a team that can keep pushing on together.”
Gordon’s own form has been superb with both bat and ball, scoring 155 runs across the four innings and picking up six wickets in the first two games.
“It’s good to lead from the front,” he said.
“We’ve been playing on some wickets that have been hard to bat and bowl on and that’s no disrespect to any groundsman because the weather has been brutal.
“Even for the younger lads, them looking at me batting shows them you don’t need to smash 90 off 50 balls. It’s about getting to 120 or 130 because that’s winning most games of cricket.
“I definitely think it’s (captaincy) bringing something out of me.
“I’m concentrating a bit harder and not throwing my wicket away. It’s something I probably should have thought about for a lot longer being a bit more selfish.
“I’m not worried about down the order because I know they will stick their hand up.
“You’ll see a lot more from Luke Allen very soon. He’s just off a two-game ban so hopefully with him coming back you’ll see him on the scoresheet more.”
Another player that is in fine form is David Steen, who has collected 10 wickets in three games, including 4-10 last time out against Ballymena.
The left-armer has used the slow wickets at the start of this season to his advantage and has played a massive role in the early success.
“He’s bowling fantastically,” added Gordon.
“Just being left-arm helps and be brings another variant to our attack. There aren’t many teams that have that.
“He’s done a lot of work over the past few years and if there is anyone who is an example that you can change it around then Steener is it.
“He’s bowling absolutely fantastically at the minute and long may it continue.
“With the slow pace that he’s bowling, you have to put all the pace on the ball yourself and it’s catches galore in the outfield with guys trying to hit Steener.
“We’ve got off to a good start in the last few games and it means he can come on and just throw the ball up.
“He’s going for low runs too and boys are really struggling to hit him.”