CRICKET: Gary Kidd and Neil Doak turn title race

Waringstowns Gary Kidd celebrates  with the match balls after yesterdays win over North Down
Waringstowns Gary Kidd celebrates with the match balls after yesterdays win over North Down

Gary Kidd must have thought he had the stage to himself yesterday afternoon as the left-arm spinner basked in the glory of his best-ever figures in club cricket.

The former Ireland bowler took an astonishing seven wickets for just nine runs to help Waringstown thrash NCU Premier League leaders North Down by eight wickets at The Lawn.

Waringstowns Adam Dennison was in fine form with the bat against North Down yesterday

Waringstowns Adam Dennison was in fine form with the bat against North Down yesterday

But a little more than two hours after the villagers had completed a vital victory, veteran off-spinner Neil Doak was almost stealing Kidd’s thunder with a match-winning six-wicket haul for relegation-threatened Lisburn at Shaw’s Bridge.

The bottom-placed visitors looked to be heading for a fifth consecutive league despite professional Gionne Koopman’s century helping them reach 248 for seven batting first.

Champions Instonians were seemingly in cruise control, a 170-run partnership for the second wicket between Nikolai Smith (93) and Andrew White (83) taking them to the apparent security of 191 for one with almost 10 overs to go.

But White’s dismissal to Mark Berry was the catalyst for one of the most spectacular batting collapses. With James Shannon following an over later, caught in the deep to become Doak’s first victim, panic started to set it, culminating in a decisive and dramatic 46th over from Doak.

Nathan Smith went first and most importantly Nikolai Smith from the very next ball, lbw for 83 from 95 balls as he attempted a reverse sweep. James Hunter was the third to go in the same over, as Doak (6-37) completed a remarkable triple wicket maiden.

Inst never recovered and finished 20 runs adrift on 228 for nine, having lost eight wickets for just 32 runs.

Earlier Koopman struck 102 from 133 balls, including 10 fours, with Adam Berry (48) and Doak’s unbeaten 36 crucial in the final analysis as Lisburn moved off the bottom of the table on run rate.

The viewing was almost as dramatic at The Lawn as North Down crumbled after racing to 61 for one in the 11th over after winning the toss.

Alistair Shields and Daniel Graham were dominating the Waringstown seamers but it all changed when Kidd was introduced into the attack.

Kidd, who barely bowled a loose ball, struck immediately, Shields edging to a diving Kyle McCallan, who caught at the second attempt at slip.

From there North Down provided an exhibition in how not to bat on a turning pitch. Ruhan Pretorius edged behind to wicketkeeper Marcus McClean as he flashed outside off-stump two overs later, the first of three successive ducks.

In truth North Down’s tail looked long. Peter Eakin and Stuart Nelson were both caught close to the wicket and Graham followed after a defiant 33 as the procession continued.

Some late-order defiance enabled North Down to get to 125, with the innings all over by the 39th over.

North Down, who had beaten Waringstown comfortably the previous day in a T20 Cup game, appeared to have seen demons in the pitch, but Adam Dennison and James McCollum demonstrated emphatically that there were none.

James Hall did fall early, attempting a big shot off Carl Robinson, but at no stage did the North Down slow men look likely to exploit the conditions in the manner Kidd did.

Spinners were employed from both ends from the start and with Pretorius rather bizarrely forsaking seam to also bowl spin, by the time we first saw pace in the 22nd over from Peter Davison, Waringstown’s horse hadn’t so much bolted as reached the final furlong.

Dennison and McCollum (46) batted beautifully, using their feet against the slow bowlers, during a 113-run stand for the second wicket, Dennison hitting nine fours and two sixes in a delightful unbeaten 72 from 74 balls.