CRICKET: James Kennedy joins CSNI from Ballymena

James Kennedy (right) has signed for CSNI is pictured previously with Club Captain Andrew Cowden and Stephen Cruise from Ulster Bank.  Picture: � Rowland White/Presseye

James Kennedy (right) has signed for CSNI is pictured previously with Club Captain Andrew Cowden and Stephen Cruise from Ulster Bank. Picture: � Rowland White/Presseye

Batsman James Kennedy has joined Civil Service North after 24 years at home-town club Ballymena.

Kennedy, long rated as one of the finest batting talents in the NCU Premier League, admitted it was a wrench to leave Eaton Park but he is looking forward to a new challenge with the Challenge Cup holders.

Kennedy said: “It was a difficult decision to leave Ballymena after playing senior cricket there for 24 years.

“I want to thank everyone associated with the club and wish them well in their battle to return to Section 1 next year. But now is the right time to make the change. I’m looking forward to playing at Stormont in the Premier League and contributing to the success of the club next year.”

Kennedy’s decision certainly makes life much more difficult for Ballymena, who will start 2017 in Section Two after consecutive relegations. However, few would begrudge the stylish right-hander another crack at top flight cricekt.

Ivan McMinn, CSNI club chairman, said: “I’m really pleased that James has joined CSNI. James will from a key part of the team next year as we continually look to strengthen and compete in all competitions. James will provide an added dimension to the team and is someone who our emerging junior players can learn from.”

CSNI captain Andrew Cowden said: “I’m delighted that we have secured the signing of James, as I believe he will be an excellent addition to our 1st XI. Having played against James over the last decade, there is no doubt he is a proven performer at Premier League level and I’ve no doubt that he will add quality, consistency and depth to our batting unit.

“As well as contributing in the field, James also brings with him valuable experience and a great desire to win which will be of great benefit to the whole squad.”