North Down and Lisburn do the double at Irish awards

There was double cause for celebration for North Down and Lisburn at the Irish Cricket Awards on Friday night.

North Down’s Paul Stirling was named International Player of the Year, while Comber team-mate Aniruddah Chore collected the club player accolade.

Lisburn’s Matthew Humphreys was named Emerging Player of the Year, while Dean Simpson’s work at Wallace Park was rewarded with the Groundsman of the Year prize.

Belfast born Stirling was comfortably his country’s leading scorer hitting four hundreds in his 1187 runs, and this consistent brilliance was recognized by his peers in voting him a clear winner.

Chore, the Indian born Oman A international, now living in the province, acclimatized superbly at Comber. He was the top run scorer in the NCU domestic game making 1157 runs at 77.13, scoring three hundreds, with a top score of 140* and seven fifties. Ani was also the top wicket-keeper in the region with 22 catches, 11 stumpings, and a run out.

The champagne corks were also popping at Lisburn as Matthew Humphrey’s exploits at the Under 19 World Cup qualifiers and the finals itself in West Indies saw him named the Emerging Player.

Dean Simpson’s work at Wallace Park was rewarded by the judging panel as he collected the Groundsman of the Year award.

“The past decade has seen a significant increase in the standard of the wickets and outfield at Wallace Park,” said their citation.

“This would not have happened if it wasn’t for Dean’s dedication to improving the cricket playing facilities at the park.”

Keeping the Lisburn theme going, was the posthumous induction of former captain Dermott Monteith into the Cricket Writers Hall of Fame.

His haul of 326 wickets is still the most taken by an Ireland bowler – and looks unlikely to be overtaken for many years to come. His best bowling of 8-44 also came at Lord’s, against MCC, but he had a phenomenal 27 five-wicket hauls, including 5-31 against a near-Test quality Pakistan International Airlines XI, 5-96 against the 1976 West Indians, and eight wickets in the famous win over Sussex in 1977.

His bowling was good enough to be called upon by Middlesex in two seasons when they were hit by international calls to their spinners John Emburey and Phil Edmonds, winning a county championship medal and blazing a trail for others to follow.

The awards kept rolling in for the NCU with Instonians Amy Hunter making it another double in the Emerging Player category.

The teenager hit the headlines worldwide as she became the youngest international centurion, doing so on her 16th birthday against Zimbabwe, a feat that propelled the sport onto the front pages,

“When Irish women’s cricket makes the front page of The Irish Times, you know it was for a significant achievement,” said the judges.

“And I think we all agree that Amy’s world-record century on her 16th birthday was indeed a significant moment, not only for her personally, but for women’s cricket as a whole.”

Completing the NCU awards haul was a Volunteering Excellence Award for Bryan Milford, who has served as General Secretary of the Northern Cricket Union for the last 14 years.

“Brian manages every aspect of cricket in the NCU - from fixtures to finance, and his attention to detail and collaborative approach has helped improve cricket in the Provincial Union and beyond.”

Well done to all the winners in what was a memorable year for the sport.