Cricket: Jones stars as CI triumph in Challenge Cup final

Press Eye � Belfast - Northern Ireland
Photo by Freddie Parkinson / Press Eye �
Saturday 29 July 2017
Northern Cricket Union, Arthur J Gallagher Senior Challenge Cup - 2017.
North Down Cricket Club, The Green, Comber.
CIYMS v Instonians
CIYMS winners
Press Eye � Belfast - Northern Ireland Photo by Freddie Parkinson / Press Eye � Saturday 29 July 2017 Northern Cricket Union, Arthur J Gallagher Senior Challenge Cup - 2017. North Down Cricket Club, The Green, Comber. CIYMS v Instonians CIYMS winners

CIYMS lifted the Arthur J Gallagher NCU Challenge Cup for the second time in three years on Saturday after a convincing six-wicket victory over Instonians.

Captain Nigel Jones, playing in his fourth successive cup final, was the star performer, top scoring with 80, having earlier taken the prime wicket of James Shannon with the ball.

Press Eye � Belfast - Northern Ireland
Photo by Freddie Parkinson / Press Eye �
Saturday 29 July 2017
Northern Cricket Union, Arthur J Gallagher Senior Challenge Cup - 2017.
North Down Cricket Club, The Green, Comber.
CIYMS v Instonians
Shane Matthews of Arthur J Gallagher, Nigel Jones Captain of CIYMS and Peter McMorran President of Northern Cricket Union

Press Eye � Belfast - Northern Ireland Photo by Freddie Parkinson / Press Eye � Saturday 29 July 2017 Northern Cricket Union, Arthur J Gallagher Senior Challenge Cup - 2017. North Down Cricket Club, The Green, Comber. CIYMS v Instonians Shane Matthews of Arthur J Gallagher, Nigel Jones Captain of CIYMS and Peter McMorran President of Northern Cricket Union

Jones arrived at the ground late, his return from the Ireland under-19s in Jersey having been delayed, but he typically delivered when it mattered with bat and ball.

Chasing a modest target of 209 on a fine batting pitch at Comber, CI were in a potentially tricky situation as first openers John Matchett and Chris Dougherty fell cheaply, and then professional Matt McGillivray departed for 20 to leave CI 67 for three in the 20th over.

With CI not having convinced this season when chasing totals, the game appeared evenly poised, but along with Jones, Ryan Hunter chose the biggest stage to deliver his best batting performance of the season.

The left-hander struck a delightful unbeaten 65 from just 64 balls, including 11 fours and one six, during a 126-run stand for the fourth wicket with his captain.

It looked like Jones would see his team through to the end, and perhaps even get a cherished cup final hundred, but he fell to Robert McKinley having made 80 from 116 balls, including 10 boundaries.

Instonians’ famed seam-bowling line-up just did not have enough runs to play with and there were 32 balls left when the formalities were complete.

Earlier in the day after winning the toss and batting first, Instonians got off to a fine start as captain Nikolai Smith and Shannon raced to 69 in a quickfire opening stand.

But just as he did in the final two years ago, Jones had Shannon caught behind, the Ireland international having struck three fours and two sixes in 37 from 40 balls.

From there it was all too predictable for an Instonians batting order that looks top heavy and was effectively without Shane Getkate who was down at 10 in the order because of a broken finger.

Smith batted valiantly for 67 from 113 balls but there was little or no support and he became one of three victims for leg-spinner Jacob Mulder.

In the end it was veteran Eugene Moleon who dragged them past 200 with 39 from 48 balls, but 208 looked well below par and so it proved.