Clash of the big hitters
Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
ROSS Adair, for now, is quite happy to be mentioned in the same sentence as Paul Stirling but the big hitters will clash head-on in the most exciting clash of the day at Stormont.
While Stirling is a veteran of five T20 World Cups, 111 T20 games for Ireland and a host of franchise tournaments around the world, Adair has yet to even play a representative game for Northern Knights. But that debut is now only six days away.
Adair has come to prominence this season after his whirlwind innings for Civil Service North, culminating in last week’s 92 from 38 balls, when he upstaged Scotland international George Munsey, a T20 specialist, who started the run-fest with 80 off 42 balls. Between them they hit 15 sixes, with Adair winning that contest as well 8-7.
An opening partnership with Marc Ellison of 156 in 12 overs ensured a CSN victory and promoted them to a four-way tie at the top and effectively means the winners of today’s game are almost assured of finishing in the top four which go through to the semi-finals on September 5.
Stirling’s hopes of starting with a big score on his North Down debut last Sunday were cut short by a superb catch by Waringstown’s Greg Thompson in the T20 Cup semi-final but four fours and a six from 17 balls will do nicely for starters and the visiting supporters and neutrals will be hoping for a longer innings today.
When the fixtures for this truncated season were released, it looked as if the match of the day would be CIYMS v Waringstown but although the winners will also move onto 16 points, it is the Adair-Stirling clash which is likely to grab the headlines.
Arguably the most important League Cup game takes place at Shaw’s Bridge because the losers of Instonians v Woodvale will be struggling to make the top four, but the game at Wallace Park between Lisburn and Carrickfergus has wooden spoon written all over it. The consolation for the winners is that it will be their first of the season and for the losers, there is no relegation.
Boyd Rankin is again an absentee for Lisburn but Cameron Doak, who is with the Ireland Under-17s this week, joins his brother Nathan in the side.
It is cup action on Sunday with unbeaten Cregagh travelling to Ballymena for the second semi-final of the T20 Trophy and it’s also semi-final day in the Women’s Challenge Cup semi-finals.