Sorensen to block Waringstown progress?
Alistair Bushe (News Letter)
WARINGSTOWN captain Kyle McCallan has warned his team that they will need to be at their best today to secure a place in the Bob Kerr Irish Cup final for the second successive year.
The villagers may be the cup holders, and they may have home advantage at The Lawn, but in The Hills, McCallan's team face one of Leinster's best teams.
The principal threat to Waringstown appears to be South African-born Max Sorensen, the fast bowler who is fast establishing himself in the Ireland set-up.
Sorensen (26) impressed in the recent Twenty20 series against Bangladesh and perhaps most worryingly for the villagers, he claimed five wickets, including a hat-trick, at The Lawn in the North versus South interprovincial game last month.
This tie could well swing on whether Waringstown emerge unscathed from Sorensen's opening burst with the new ball. If they do then a top five of Simon Harrison, James Hall, Lee Nelson, professional Glen Addicott and McCallan himself should be extremely difficult to halt.
McCallan said: "Sorensen is a quality bowler, as he showed in the North-South game. But they have other good cricketers, Naseer Shoukat, the lad Tomas Murphy who I have heard good things about and Luke Clinton. They are the sort of side that are tough to beat. However, I believe that if we play to our potential then we should have too much ammunition for them."
The two sides met at the quarter-final stage two years ago at Skerries. Waringstown won a thriller by 23 runs that day, with McCallan's 81 and 64 from Lee Nelson just about enough to see off a late charge with the bat from Shoukat.
McCallan believes Waringstown are a better side now than they were then. ButThe Hills include in-form New Zealander Mike Baumgart, who hit a century in his last innings against Clontarf and Sorensen's association with the Ireland set-up has developed him into a formidable cricketer.
"He took five wickets at The Lawn but there was a bit of scoreboard pressure at either end that day which played to his advantage," McCallan said.
"We played them at The Hills two years ago and beat them, and they had Jeremy Bray and a few others who have moved on. We are a better side now than we were then and they will have to play very well to beat us."
One factor today could be the weather. After a miserable summer, the water table at The Lawn is worryingly high, meaning any significant rain could put the game in doubt. The forecast is for heavy showers, and Duckworth-Lewis could come into play.
McCallan insists a replay at The Hills would hold no fears for his team. They have won successive ties at Brigade and North County, with Addicott's brilliant batting decisive in both rounds. The South African made a wonderful unbeaten century at Beechgrove in the second round before 93 not out in a run chase at Balrothery did for North County.
McCallan added: "The weather is the one thing we can't do anything about. If we have to go The Hills then so be it, we have shown by winning at Brigade and North County that while home advantage is important in the Irish Cup, we are capable of winning away from home too.
"We are certainly confident going into Saturday. We were excellent against Civil Service North, we batted very well in getting almost 300 and never gave them a sniff with the ball."
The villagers make one change to the team that thrashed CSN by 185 runs on Sunday, with Jamie Matthews back in the side to replace the holidaying David Dawson.