Holders CIYMS confident ahead of North Down clash
Johnny Morton (www.jmsport.co.uk)
Defending LVS Twenty20 Cup champions CIYMS enter yet another final full of confidence as they prepare to take on North Down at The Lawn on Sunday (3pm start).
The Belmont side won the competition last year with a one-run victory over Waringstown at the same venue, which was just one of four trophies they picked up in 2019.
Reaching finals and winning trophies has almost become second nature for CIYMS in recent times, now making it to the decider in four of the last five competitions that they have been involved in.
They enter this one having lost only one game so far during a shortened campaign, which came at the hands of Instonians in the Robinson Services Cup, but captain Nigel Jones believes that defeat could have helped refocus his side as they enter a crucial period.
“As I’ve said for the last couple of years, it’s very rare where you go through a season without losing a game,” he said.
“As long as when you lose you’re learning quickly from it and it’s not a knockout game or one that will derail you.
“That loss against Instonians wasn’t the worst thing for us because it certainly sharpens the mind again and reminds us that we have to be switched on. The form is good and the boys are confident.”
CI welcomed Irish international Mark Adair back into their side for a semi-final victory over Lisburn before he picked up three wickets in their last outing against Waringstown.
The 24-year-old tends to thrive in the big games and Jones expects that will be the case again this weekend.
“It’s great to have him back.
“You expect him to turn up in those big club games and put in a performance.
“He’s very keen to take on that top-order role with the bat for us and we know what he can do with the ball with his skill. It’s a big positive to have him back in the team.”
Adair will most likely share the new ball with Allen Coulter, who has picked up nine wickets in all competitions.
With the likes of Jacob Mulder, James Cameron-Dow and Ted Britton bowling in the middle overs, Coulter plays a vital role in setting a platform.
“He plays a big role for us,” added Jones.
“In T20 cricket, the biggest thing is taking wickets.
“Containing the score is great and helps put the pressure on but you want it to lead to wickets and you get that with Allen Coulter, who has been quality over a number of years.
“He nails his yorkers, hits a good length and is a key bowler for us.”
This weekend is set to be a great advert for the local game with three finals taking place in the NCU while both CIYMS and North Down have already sealed their spots in the Robinson Services Cup semi-finals after a league meeting between the two was cancelled last Saturday.
These sorts of games are the ones that get players and fans alike most excited, and for Jones, taking part in occasions like Sunday is a big motivation.
“That’s what drives and motivates you as a club cricketer.
“I know all of the boys are the same. They want the opportunity to play in these big games.
“From a personal point of view, I know that helps me with the stage that I’m at in my career.
“It adds that extra spice and it’ll be a cracking weekend.”
North Down have been in great form this season and have a number of players performing at a high level.
CI’s philosophy under Jones has been to focus inwardly rather than look too much at what the opposition are doing and he admits the chance to qualify for another All-Ireland Twenty20 Cup is a driving factor.
“We are always trying to focus on what we can do but looking at them, there is quality in the North Down side but as I remind the boys, there are plenty of threats in our side too.
“We will have to be smart with some of their individuals and restrict what they can do.
“We are fairly confident that if we stick to our plans that we can come out on the right end of the result.
“We had a lot of success last year but that’s in the past.
“We want to start afresh, win this trophy and get back into that tournament.
“We would love to get there again and see if we can win it again.”