Cowden out to make his mark

Mandatory Credit: Rowland White / PressEye
Cricket: Hanley Energy Inter-Provincial Cup
Teams: Northern Knights (navy) v North-West Warriors (light blue)
Venue: Stormont
Date: 4th May 2015
Caption: Graeme McCarter, North-West Warriors
Mandatory Credit: Rowland White / PressEye Cricket: Hanley Energy Inter-Provincial Cup Teams: Northern Knights (navy) v North-West Warriors (light blue) Venue: Stormont Date: 4th May 2015 Caption: Graeme McCarter, North-West Warriors

Once upon a time in a bygone era, before we had sponsors, professionals, coloured clothing, black sight screens and white balls there was a team called North of Ireland Cricket Club and they ruled the NCU.

For over a decade at the end of the 19th, beginning of the 20th an almost unprecedented 16 league and cup titles a record including five doubles. A record which went unsurpassed until the legendary Waringstown side of the 1970’s, 80’s.

Skipper Andrew Cowden

Skipper Andrew Cowden

Both sides are in action tomorrow chasing a semifinal place in the Arthur J Gallagher Challenge Cup and the game itself is barely recognisable from those days of yore.

One thing though remains unchanged the desire to appear in a Challenge Cup final.

For Lee Nelson and Waringstown, despite the double of Irish Senior Cup and Ulster Bank Premier League, last season’s defeat by eventual winners CIYMS at Belfast is still felt with acute pain.

Over at Stormont the victory in 2014 is still fresh in the memory but much has changed since then, with player departures, perhaps none felt more so than the loss of talismanic captain Nigel Jones to CIYMS.

Big shoes to fill and the man doing it is Andrew Cowden and he is looking forward to the challenge.

“Very much a period of change for us and it is probably fair to say we are regarded as more of a cup team than a league side currently. However, we are on a good run at the moment.

“I believe we have coped well with the player departures, we are still going in three cup competitions, a winner takes all game in the T20 Friday night and Derriaghy on Saturday at Stormont.

“The spirit in the dressing room is as good as I remember since I came to the club. Certainly our objective is to be in two semis come Saturday evening.

“The average age of the side has dropped and that brings with it better fielding. We have guys like Park, Beverland, Ross, Wilson and Johnston in the side or pushing to get in and we have a great youth set up.

“What we need to focus on to improve our in the league is consistency, the ability to turn it on twice in consecutive days.

“We are on a good run at minute, wins over Lisburn in the league, CIYMS in the T20 and of course last weekend’s tremendous performance up in Donemana, so we will be backing ourselves.”

And Cowden is full of admiration for opponents Derriaghy.

“Quarterfinal of the Irish Senior Cup is a real credit to them. They have come into the Premier League, created a few shocks yet stuck with the same guys who got them there and I have no doubt they will be well up for the challenge.

“We are full of confidence, taking the game extremely seriously and fully expect it to be tough. We have bowled well, Graeme McCarter leading with the new ball, Shane Getkate coming into form and Alan Blain fitting in well.

“In the spin department obviously we have Ben Adair and Jason van der Merwe, not forgetting professional Mansoor Amjad, superb with bat and ball. We bat all the way down to Adair at 10 and Blain 11.”