Last week, I predicted that our trip to The Green would allow me to inflate the batting averages of a new set of North Down batsmen, and so it proved. Coming on in the fourteenth over, Danny Graham welcomed me to the fray by putting me over the pavilion, and the treatment offered by Sutherland, Khan, and Eakin was no more hospitable.
That's okay, they're allowed to treat non-turning off-spin with contempt; the only thing that grated was an Eakin leading-edge flying over long-off for six. I know that kind of thing happens now, but that doesn't make it fair.
In the end, North Down made 301. This was only 20-30 better than par, and the same 20-30 that we let through our legs or dived over in the field. Of this sloppiness I was more than guilty: I may have achieved one Good Thing - a run out from long-off to the keeper's end - but that was more than outweighed by the statuesque immobility bequeathed by the decision to lift heavy things the day before. That was stupid.
As you can surely infer from scores of 301-6 vs 259-5, this was a fantastic pitch, and it belied the notion that The Green's square had been in terminal decline. In fact, the whole place was in magnificent nick, at a time of the year when at Eaton Park the wildebeest are still sweeping across the plains.
The consequence of this pitch was that good cricket was rewarded, that bad cricket was punished, and that the bowlers were by and large massacred. It's a problem that many Irish bowlers face: brought up on slow and soft pitches, we are led to believe that bowling straight - without pace, without much lateral movement - is good enough. And often it is, but not here: this pitch was curated for proper cricket, and few from the NCU know how to play that.
Chasing 300+ we began well enough, James Kennedy striking the ball cleanly while I tried to remember which end of the bat to hold. (Peter Davidson, by the way, must have been a terrifying prospect for 2nd XI players - if he can maintain his pace and thereby his bounce for ten overs, he could be really useful.) We got to 40-odd without loss in the power play.
Then Marty Moreland came on. Now, Moreland has been a consistently successful performer over the last fifteen years. Having watched him a lot from the sidelines (or from no. 9 in the order), I was never quite sure why: he does not turn the ball, and he often bowls with a scrambled seam so there isn't even any drift.
What he does, however, is bowl with unrelenting accuracy and - this is the killer - he always bowls about eighteen inches fuller than you think. This was demonstrated perfectly on Saturday: James tried to go over the top to what he thought was a length ball, but ended up drilling a half-volley to mid-off; I thought I was driving a half-volley, but I was yorked. Moreland is an unglamorous but effective cricketer and the control that his bowling offers - in the absence of James Cameron-Dow - will be vital to North Down this year.
In the end, we fell 42 runs short, but not before Steve Lazars played one of the better innings I have seen in club cricket. It was brutally destructive - quite literally, two bats died in the process - and he deserved a century.
He was more than ably supported by our new professional, Azeem Ghumman, who made a well constructed 77. If Azeem can bat like this, for 30-40 overs every week, as did Kaushik Aphale for years, we will be well served. He does, however, change gloves more frequently than Elizabeth Taylor changed husbands.
While watching Steve and Azeem bat, debate turned on the naming of 'ends' at cricket grounds. Some are obvious (Pavilion, River, etc.), but some are not. The Mount Alexander End at Comber? This is a genuine question - where is the mount?
Anyway, we'll set about replacing the 'Town' and 'Broughshane' Ends at Eaton Park with similarly uplifting and magnificent names. One could be the Slemish End, the other could be the Braid End, and whichever Michael Glass bowls from will be the Very Very Fast End.
Anyway, our defeat to North Down was justified but we escaped the maulings experienced on so many previous visits to Comber. Following a swift pint in the bar - I may have been signed up as a ringer for the North Down quiz team - we retired to our skipper's house for dinner, where topics of conversation ranged from South Asian graphology and the Gallipoli campaign, to the origin of accents and the South Sudanese football team. Truly.
More importantly, if Shaun of the Dead provided the legendary falsism that "Dogs can't look up", this soiree gave us something similar: "There are no museums in Australia".
This week, Lisburn come to Eaton Park. Everyone knows that our hopes of survival are connected to the result of this match. Lisburn, like us, have been weakened over the winter: Craig Ervine has gone, Carl Williams has retired, James Magowan - as far as I know - is in England, while Adam Berry has broken his ankle. This leaves Lisburn without an experienced spinner and that, at Eaton Park, is massive.
Every time we play Lisburn, the same plans are concocted: survive the opening spells of Brown and Simpson and the logic runs that we should do well, since they are fine bowlers. The only problem is that we're normally 15-3 within half an hour, or somebody else takes a five-for, and so both mice and men question their wisdom. Let's see if history repeats.