THE rain may have ended any hope of play in yesterday’s first inter-provincial clash of the season between Northern Knights and Leinster Lightning at Comber, but The Green has been confirmed as the venue for both semi-finals and final in the Robinson Services Cup.

The semi-final line-up will be confirmed after Saturday’s final round of league games and they will both take place on September 5, at 10.30am and 2.30pm. The winners will return to the venue the following day for the final with a start time of 2.30pm.

With no prospect of play yesterday, there was an early abandonment to save Lightning from travelling but they are due back at Comber on Thursday September 17 for the Knights’ 50-over clash between the teams.

The next round of T20 games are scheduled for tomorrow, with Knights hosting Munster Reds at Stormont and Lightning facing North West Warriors at Pembroke – and William Porterfield will be available for the visitors.
Although Porterfield received approval from Cricket Ireland to take up a coaching role with his former county Warwickshire, he never asked to be excused from his playing commitments with the Warriors.

Having already given No Objection Certificates to Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie and Gareth Delany to play for Northamptonshire, Glamorgan and Leicestershire respectively to play in the T20 Blast, Cricket Ireland did not want to lose another of their star players from the inter-pros, but the long-time former Ireland skipper is just happy to be involved again with the (Warwickshire) Bears.

“I loved every minute of playing with the Bears, especially in the T20s, so to get the chance to go back down there and help out will be great," said Porterfield.

“When you’re captain for a while you get a taste of the coaching side, but to be in a completely non-playing role will be different but an experience I’m looking forward to. Whatever knowledge I can pass on is great, but I’ll be continually learning myself and getting to assess things from the other side.

“I was chatting to (my agent) Niall O’Brien about a few opportunities that were floating around and the Bears said they’d love to have me involved. I took a look at their fixture list and it fits around the inter-pro schedule, so it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.”

The Bears first match is on Friday, at home to Somerset and two days later Balbirnie will be in the opposition line-up when Warwickshire travel to Cardiff.

Meanwhile, based on the weather forecast for this week, the North West union have changed their mind and next Sunday will be a reserve day for all seven T20 semi-finals in the four senior Cup competitions, if the games cannot go ahead on Saturday.

Matches can be reduced to five overs if necessary, but a bowl-out will decide the finalists if that cannot be completed on Sunday. The Senior Cup and Sam Jeffrey Shield finals will be played on Saturday September 5 with the Faughan Valley Cup and Eric Cooke Cup deciders on September 12.