Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
THE two strongest inter-provincial teams flexed the muscles yesterday and, between the showers, made winning starts. Remarkably, both games were completed in the 28th over, enough time for Leinster Lightning to chase down their modest victory target of 77 in Dublin while at the same stage in Bready, rain forced the teams off the field but Northern Knights were in front of the DLS par score to claim the win points.
Only three players reached double figures in the North West Warriors-Knights clash but predictably two of them were William Porterfield and Paul Stirling.
Porterfield was left out of Ireland’s World Cup Super League matches against England but he insisted he was in good form. For 14 overs yesterday he proved that with a sprightly 42 from 35 balls, with two fours and two sixes.
At the other end, his first five partners, including Warriors captain Andy McBrine and Stuart Thompson, has scored 14 between them.
Fortunately for the home side, Graham Hume took over after Porterfield’s dismissal and almost matched his strike rate with 47 off 40 balls, also hitting the only other two sixes of the innings.
Hume qualifies to play for Ireland in 2022 and he seems sure to be remain on Ireland’s radar, particularly as he also bowls a lively fast-medium which yesterday brought him the wickets of James McCollum and Harry Tector, the latter Porterfield’s replacement in the Ireland team, in his first two overs.
The North West innings featured 58 singles and only 10 boundaries so it was quite an achievement to get somewhere near a competitive total of 132-6.
The pick of the Knights bowlers was the surprising sixth that Gary Wilson called on. Harry Tector is not considered an international bowler but three overs of off spin cost only 11 runs and the wicket of Porterfield, who missed with a sweep shot, was the icing on the cake.
Stirling’s dominance of the Knights reply was even more pronounced than his long-time international opening partner.
McBrine threw his debutant, Nathan McGuire, into the lions’ den by giving him the new ball and Stirling duly dispatched two of his first four balls to the boundary, the second a brilliantly timed reverse sweep.
Craig Young replaced McGuire but Stirling treated his temporary North Down team-mate with similar disdain, pulling the first ball he faced for six over mid-wicket and in his next over, a four in the same direction was followed a glorious straight six. An audacious ramp shot off Hume brought him his sixth boundary and ensured, when the rain approached, that even with three wickets down – Wilson was caught at long-on – the Knights were ahead of their required scoring rate.
It was a family affair before the start when Stirling, seven years after the Knights first game, received his first cap from dad Brian and Ross Adair got his from brother Mark.
Carrick’s CJ van der Walt was the third debutant because David Delany could not travel from Dublin to Bready.
At Pembroke, only three Munster batsmen reached double figures, JJ Garth, Cormac McLoughlin-Gavin and Jeremy Lawlor after Jack Tector was run out to the second ball of the match without facing!
Curtis Campher, on his Lightning debut, had figures of 1-26 in his three overs and Peter Chase proved virtually unplayable with 1-6 from 3.3 overs.
The sixth bowler was the most successful here as well with three wickets for Gareth Delany in what will be his only T20 game for Lightning, before he heads to the T20 Blast with Leicestershire.
It was Andrew Balbirnie’s only game as well but he wasn’t required to bat as Kevin O’Brien finished 45 not out, with six fours and two sixes.