CSNI dynamic duo frightening
Johnny Morton (www.jmsport.co.uk)
It took CSNI just 14 overs to chase down 166 against Carrickfergus last weekend as they secured a nine-wicket victory.
George Munsey (80 from 42) helped visiting Carrick set a more than competitive total of 165/7 but it turned out to be nowhere near enough as Ross Adair (92 from 38) and Marc Ellison (59* from 37) put on 156 for the first wicket.
The two teams hit 28 fours and 20 sixes between them with the CSNI opening duo responsible for 25 of the boundaries in an afternoon that the bowlers will want to forget.
“It was frightening,” said captain James Kennedy.
“There was some good clean ball-striking.
“They compliment each other very well at the top of the order and they score their runs in very different areas.
“As the scorecards have proven, they are a handful for most bowlers. If you bowl it in their area they are going to punish you.”
Adair has wasted no time in showing everyone what he is all about after a winter move from Holywood.
He has also impressed with the ball and while it can take some players a period of time to settle into a new club, Kennedy knew from very early on that the 26-year-old would have an immediate impact.
“We knew straight away before a ball was struck that Ross has the quality to do that,” he added.
“He hasn’t let us down at all. His ball-striking was as clean as I have witnessed in a long time.
“He hit some which weren’t just sixes they were definitely worth 12!”
CSNI also welcomed back the Irish international duo of Stuart Thompson and Gary Wilson, who should now have a run of club fixtures mixed with their Inter-Provincial commitments.
Thompson finished with impressive figures of 3-21 from his four overs before hitting 9* batting at number three.
“It’s good to get the guys who are international standard back into your team,” said Kennedy.
“It just proves the depth that we have that we didn’t need to rely on either of them and they could have a comfortable welcome back with not too much to do.”
Their experience and quality helps add a real depth to a CSNI side who look like they have most bases covered in their bid to secure a play-off spot.
They’ve now won three league games on the trot after an opening day loss to favourites CIYMS, beating Instonians, Lisburn and Carrick.
Sitting in fourth on 12 points, Kennedy is delighted with the start but knows there are a number of tough tests on the horizon.
“We have played some good cricket,” he added.
“We even played good cricket against CI and were perhaps unlucky to fade away in the end and our challenge just faltered a bit.
“We’ve come back well and had three good results.
“There are still three tough games ahead in North Down, Woodvale and Waringstown.
“The thing with T20 is that you might think you’re doing well but one bad over can really change and determine the outcome of the game.”
North Down will visit Stormont on Saturday and are a team in equally good form, sitting third on net run-rate but the same amount of points as CSNI and the winner of the game will put themselves in a really strong position for a semi-final spot.
CSNI become the latest team that has to solve the Paul Stirling conundrum after the Irish international made his North Down debut last weekend in their LVS Twenty20 Cup semi-final win over Waringstown.
Kennedy has first hand experience of just how destructive the 29-year-old can be after watching a teenage Stirling smash 150 for Carrickfergus in June 2009 during his time playing at Ballymena.
“North Down are a very, very good side,” he said.
“They’ve obviously been strengthened by Paul coming into the ranks as well but they are a fantastic side even without him, so he has just added a new dimension to them completely.
“I played against Paul a long time ago when he played for Carrick against Ballymena and he scored 150 against us. Fingers crossed he doesn’t do that this time!”