Ryan Smyth, the young Downpatrick batsman, was a comparitive unknown before Saturday.
But the former Saintfield player should be on the radar of most cricket observers now after breaking the record for the highest individual score made by a batsman in NCU senior cricket.
The 21-year-old hit an astonishing unbeaten 249 from just 139 balls against Bangor in the opening day Section One match at Upritchard Park. In the process Smyth surpassed the 244 made by South African Obus Pienaar for Waringstown against CIYMS in 2011.
What made Smyth’s exploits all the more remarkable is that he came to the crease with Downpatrick in all sorts of trouble on 10 for three and they were later 31 for four and 61 for five.
Not that it affected Smyth as he crashed 28 fours and nine sixes, including 30 from the final over bowled by Bangor captain Andrew Nixon. Perhaps most remarkably of all, he didn’t give a single chance as Downpatrick piled up 359 for six in their 50 overs.
Speaking to the News Letter yesterday, Smyth was still trying to take in the enormity of his achievement. His previous highest score for Downpatrick was just 65 and he had never made more than 81 in his whole cricket career.
“It still feels like a dream, it hasn’t really sunk in yet,” he admitted. “I took a couple of overs to get going but from there everything clicked into place and it was coming off the middle of the bat.
“To get a hundred, your first at any standard of cricket, is a big moment, and from there I was just playing my shots. When I got past 150 it sunk in that there were 14 or 15 overs left. Words can’t describe how I felt getting to the double hundred. It’s something you can dream of but never think could be reality.”
Bangor’s players, including the legendary Pakistani Taimur Khan, were hugely magnanimous in their praise, and informed Smyth he had broken Pienaar’s record.
“They said it was one of the best things you will have ever see, for Taimur Khan to say that meant a lot given what he has done in the game.”
Bangor never had a sniff in reply, Thoms Magowan taking five wickets as the home side were dismissed for just 165.
A former Downpatrick player, Neil Gelston, meanwhile smashed 140 as Armagh shocked league favourites Derriaghy at Queensway.
The Premier League action was almost a sideshow with the big game between champions Instonians and CIYMS at Shaw’s Bridge never really catching fire.
Shane Getkate, who as yet has been unable to force through a move to Inst from CSNI, was watching clad in official Instonians gear, and his likely new team-mates badly missed his classy presence in the middle order.
From the apparent comfort of 61 for two, they were soon 82 for six, John Matchett’s superb run-out of Andrew White pivotal along with James Shannon sacrificing his wicket to Trevor Britton after he had cruised to 32.
It took a classy 28 from 14-year-old James Hunter - what a prospect he looked - to drag Inst to 148 all out on a largely blameless pitch.
If one assumed that CI would cruise to victory, you couldn’t have been more wrong as three wickets fell for just three runs to the impressive Nathan Smith (4-24).
The Australian-born seamer looks to have gone up another couple of gears from last season, removing Matchett, Chris Dougherty and Jason van der Merwe for a golden duck on CI debut.
With Nigel Jones following for 13, caught off James Magee, CI were deep in trouble on 52 for four.
Another wicket then would have put the champions in total control but Ryan Hunter, the former Donemana and Brigade left-hander, batting beautifully for 33 in a half-century stand with Matt McGillivray, the new CI professional.
McGillivray had earlier bowled within himself, but he was the epitome of composure with the bat as wickets fell around him. His unbeaten 51 took 64 balls and included six fours and a six.
The first group games in the Lagan Valley Steels Twenty20 Cup take place on Monday. Waringstown take on North Down at The Lawn, Inst host CSNI, Lisburn take on Muckamore and CI travel to Carrick.