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The Paul Stafford Column (2007-2010)
Paul Stafford
Internet Poll leaves The Hills in a spin.
It seemed an innocent enough internet poll to determine who the fans would like to replace Kyle McCallan in the Ireland cricket team.
Ireland and Test Cricket
The main question is not 'Can Ireland play Test Cricket?' but 'Does Ireland want to play Test cricket?'
Irish Senior Cup Final
High drama on the pitch and a storm in a teacup off it.
Ulster Cricket League
Some meat on the bone.
North West v NCU
Which is the stronger Union?
NCU Cup Final Preview
Who needs Kolpak when you have the NCU Cup final?
LCU Batting Rankings 2009
Keep it in the family. The Strydom's reign in LCU and NCU.
NCU Batting Rankings 2009
Latest batting rankings
T20 is here to stay
The sport is a marketing man's dream and Razza Mattaz is not a Pakistani squad player.
NCU Bowling Rankings
'Batsmen are the darlings of the committees; bowlers are cricket's labourers.'
Don Bradman
NCU Club Batting Rankings
An analytical assessment of the best club batsmen in the NCU.
England calls
Manuel Almunia and Eoin Morgan mentioned in the same sentence.
NCU Round Up Part 5
It's a warm welcome back for Woodvale and Ballymena.
NCU Round Up Part 4
It is said they can beat anyone on their day. The opposite is also true.
NCU Round up Part 3
They say insanity is where you do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.
NCU Round up part 2
What if you have got everything except a team?
2009 NCU Round Up Part 1
We've had glorious sunshine for the last couple of weeks followed by the rain. It must be the start of the cricket season.
Afghan Hounds
It's make or break for Scotland. High drama in the last round of the Super Eights.
Ireland deserve a chance
Ireland would add a new dimension to International cricket. But the ICC need to act rather than dither. The choice is to expand or contract. To grow or to die.
Funslog Millionaire
"You've taken your Fifty/Fifty. So for £1million, Eoin Morgan will be playing in the 20/20 Cricket World Cup finals in 2009 for (a) England or (b) Ireland?"
Ulster Grasshoppers Match 5 in Mumbai
Back to grass roots for the Grasshoppers as we mix with the locals at the amazing Parks venue.
Ulster Grasshoppers Match 4 At Bombay Gymkhana
Ulster Grasshoppers are treated royally at the Bombay Gymkhana, an old colonial test ground steeped in history.
Match 3 in India
Grasshoppers arrive in Mumbai to play at the magnificent Brabourne Stadium
Nelly stars in Delhi
Nelson provides the fireworks.
Who was Cricket's Greatest ever All Rounder?
Imagine a supreme sportsman who could put his hand to any sport and do it at the top. Step forward cricket's greatest ever all rounder, Charles Burgess Fry.
County Down 2008
I assumed that County Down would be straightforward. You know what they say about assuming though.
County Antrim 2008
With four sides in the top flight of NCU cricket one would think that the Antrim team would be very strong.
Belfast
Nigel Jones and Alan Coulter were a formidable new ball pairing in 2008.
County Tyrone
The region has a bright future with the emergence of Chris Doughtery, Andy Britton and Stephen Clarke.
County Armagh
Fifteen or twenty years ago Lurgan and Waringstown could have selected a side of Ireland internationals.
County Londonderry 2008
Three changes to the 2007 team and it is dominated by Limavady players.
Fast and furious
Why I want to see a return of decent fast bowlers.
Yo Mo, go bro!
When Ireland played Australia at Downpatrick in 1985, there was only one cricketer worth meeting.
Ireland and Test Cricket
No chance! It's a 'Done' deal.
More Bang for your Buck?
Stanford 20/20 will be like watching a car crash.
Serial 12 lacked 'Snap, Crackle and Pop'
An 8 team top league was never going to go through on the nod. It needed to be sold but for some there was nothing to buy.
NCU AGM
A missed opportunity.
New NCU Premier League Proposals
Clubs will vote against the new proposals unless they get more information.
What a season! What a mess!
All of the fantastic efforts of CSNI and North Down should be applauded.
Who'd be an administrator?
Why the NCU might be secretly cheering on CSNI on Saturday.
Ode to Brigade
Brigade's 2008 in poetry.
Its tough at the bottom.
However said it is tough at the top obviously has never been at the bottom.
Away to the 'holm' of North West cricket
Why is Donemana such a special place?
Dare to dream?
"Next on BBC1 Northern Ireland, we have the highlights of todays Ulster Premier League match between North Down and Donemana from The Green, Comber."
Limavady and Donemana take a bow
These two teams have lit up a summer that was threatening to wash us all away.
Groundhog Day
Waringstown having been dead and buried had clawed themselves back into the match. Now here is the controversial part.
NCU Cup final preview
Experience will win the day.
World Cup, bring it on!
We need to pick the best team available for the 20/20 World Cup finals.
North West Intermediate Cricket
Too few fixtures are causing players to drift away.
Please release me, let me go
The recent announcement of the ICC that players should be released for International games is welcome.
Ireland needs a strong NCU
The NCU has never needed the ISC to assess its standing. But the net result of mentally downgrading the competition has masked the decline in standards.
The future for Zimbabwe Cricket
In the same way that a sporting boycott helped bring down the apartheid regime it will take something similar to highlight the human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
Irelandshire County Cricket Club?
Is Ireland a County or a Country? The recent debate about whether or not the current Ireland captain should be sub-fielding for England is related to the status held by the Ireland cricket team.
R.E.S.P.E.C.T
Players need to pay their dues as well as their subscriptions.
Who's getting Lashed?
Why do I feel so uncomfortable with Cricket Ireland announcing that the International team will play Lashings? It has nothing to do with the standard of opposition or the amount of people that can get to watch the game.
Who wants to be a selector?
There is always contention when any team is selected simply because it often boils down to a matter of opinion.
Full School uniform, we're playing away.
Children are no longer school cricketers but club cricketers and Saturday schools cricket is now doing significantly more damage than good.
NCU Handicap Chase, ìUnder starter's ordersÖand they're off!î
The Premier League should be renamed the Ulster Bank Handicap Chase. The games are no longer predictable
NCU Round Up (3) For a Few Dollars More
Carrickfergus has more new faces than an X Factor audition and it is expected they will feature prominently in all competitions.
NCU Round Up (2) Fistful of Dollars
Big bad Regan West has ridden into town ready to blast CSNI to the top.
NCU Round Up (1)
There is a different feel to the NCU this year and there is no doubt in my mind that Instonians have the quality to challenge the big two.
My old 'English' home far 'cross the foam!
Question: When is a Irishman not an Irishman? Answer: When he's a cricketer!
Spring Lambs
If cricketers mature later than in other sports why are the Ireland cricket selectors obsessed with picking players from the Under 19 team?
From the two proud provinces of Ireland
The same problems that dogged the inter-provincial competition a decade ago are still there.
End of term report, class dismissed!
Closing the gap between club and international cricket is essential. Change is coming whether you like it or not.
Pack up your comfort zone
A merger of the two Ulster Unions would make a lot of sense especially with the LCU flexing its muscle in the corridors of power within the ICU.
Change: Pros and Cons (2)
The re-introduction of inter-pros would be a mistake. The concept is not wrong but it won't work.
Change: Pros and Cons
Can the NCU and the NWCU be modified, streamlined and improved, or do we need a new design to take us to the next level?
Get your wad out
The bandwagon is up and running and its advocates are inviting others to appreciate their clarity of vision regarding a 'Premier League'.
Gold watch and a handshake
It's hard not to feel a sense of sadness that Shaun Pollock and Adam Gilchrist have retired - the latest in a series of high profile cricketers that have retired in the last 12-18 months.
Can you kill the Golden Goose?
The ICC needs to step in and take a certain amount of control over the schedules to ensure variety for the fans.
Happy New Year
David Kennedy returning to Ballymena, the Ireland U19 squad named, the winter nets squad including surprises both in and out, and allegations that the North West is all about cricket and beer.
The Ghost of Christmas Present
What I want for Christmas is a new game. Ideally it would be available for the Playstation, Xbox 360 and the PC. I would call it Ulster Cricket Manager.
The Ghost of Christmas Past
Twenty20 cricket has been a phenomenal success the world over. Yet as a cricket fan I am still a little surprised it has been the success it has. In some ways it explains the world we live in.
Counties Tyrone/Fermanagh/Donegal
Following the lead from the Derry Midweek League I have put these three counties in together to ensure everyone has a fair crack at selection.
County Londonderry
With the exception of Antrim I have been eligible for 5 out of 6 teams in this County Championship at one time or another in my cricket career.
County Down
The dominance of North Down in the area meant I had to work hard to look outside their team.
Belfast
This was probably the hardest selection yet. Only two Belfast clubs in the Premier League yet a quite a few in Section 2.
County Armagh
When I first sat down to pick the Armagh team my initial thought was that this will easily be the weakest of the teams with only one Section 1 team from which to select.
An Ulster County Championship
I have decided to try and pick some teams that could play in a Gaelic football style County championship for cricket. I've joined Fermanagh with Tyrone and made a team for Belfast.
Answering Ireland's Call
They say a mind once stretched on new possibilities never returns to its original dimensions. I have to confess that that is exactly how I feel about the Ireland International cricket team.
Spin Bowling
Is it because the pitches have become so poor that anyone can bowl spin or is it because of a lack of role models for other bowlers?