Ian Callender (Sunday Life)
Waringstown will play their rearranged Premier League game against Lisburn On Monday night after The Lawn joined the long list of weather casualties on Saturday.
The entire NCU senior programme was wiped out without a single result – one game started – and now the Premier League leaders must face the lottery of a T20 match to extend their nine-match winning run.
Skipper Lee Nelson, however, was philosophical, accepting that “it’s part and parcel of our climate”
He went on: From now to the end of the season there could be several T20 (rearrangements). You just have to back yourselves to be better than the opposition.”
And that is what Waringstown have been doing for the last two months. Since losing to North Down by the huge margin of 175 runs on June 19, the Villagers have been unbeatable, even exiting the Challenge Cup after a first round victory, because they played an ineligible wicket-keeper.
Long forgotten is the T20 Cup which started the season, when Waringstown won only two games, but Nelson claims mitigating circumstances for the slow start.
“You have to remember we lost James Hall and Gary Kidd, our leading run scorer and leading wicket taker from last year over the winter, plus Phil Eaglestone, so it was a bit of a transition. Yes, we brought in Graham Hume and Andre Malan, who have made a massive difference, but it was always going to take time for them to bed in and find the right positions for the right people. I would say we have only found the right balance to the side over the last few weeks.
“It was a case of everyone getting to know each other, so it was always going to take a while for us to find our find our feet and to, basically, relaunch us as a side. What happened at the start of the year was a reflection of that."
But while club professional Malan has scored almost 400 runs more than any of his team-mates and fellow South African Hume has taken 19 wickets – bettered only by Kyle McCallan – Nelson insists contributions from the rest of the team have been just as important to their winning run.
“Adam Dennison is starting to score big runs again - 80s and 100s - and him and James are now settled at the top of the order, covering the gap James left. James Mitchell bowling at the death when it was getting tight against Woodvale and Johnny Bushe coming in for three or four weeks and helping me behind the stumps."
But although they probably need to win only two of their final five games to win the league for the first time since 2017, Nelson is taking nothing for granted. It’s going to be tough, CI are still hanging about, we have still to go there, North Down have to go to CI as well so there is plenty of ebb and flows ahead, plus the weather can still play a part,” he said.
“It’s an old cliché but we are taking it one game at a time.”
The one league game to get started yesterday was in Section One when leaders Cliftonville Academy were denied a likely victory, having posted 231 for nine in their 48 overs but rain cut short Armagh’s reply in the seventh over, which means the teams will have to meet again in a 20-over game.
The Junior Cup final will now be played next Sunday, at a venue to be confirmed, after yesterday’s first attempt was also abandoned at halfway, the teams having belatedly started a 29-over game.