Decker turns on the style in cup clash

Decker Curry was in blistering form against Derriaghy
Decker Curry was in blistering form against Derriaghy

They say age is just a number and if anyone proved that at Queensway on Saturday it was North West kingpin Decker Curry.

He may well be approaching his half century off the pitch, but on it you just couldn’t keep him out of the action.

A vintage batting display in the O’Neill’s Ulster Cup tie ensured that Ardmore did not suffer the same fate that befell Donemana in the Irish Cup. Curry finished on 65 not out (5 fours and 4 maximums) and you were left thinking that had Derriaghy posted a higher total a 99th century was his for the taking.

Derriaghy captain Craig Lewis had a day to forget - with Ardmore 81-3 any chance his side had of defending the paltry 128 they made disappeared when Curry lofted spinner Wayne Hughes to long off and Lewis spilled a fairly regulation catch.

Batting first, Andrew Kenny was deceived by the movement as he was clean bowled by Conor Brolly for a duck. With professional Kaushik Aphale resting an arm injury, Lewis was the pivotal wicket and the introduction into the attack of another veteran performer Ardmore’s Gary Neely brought about his downfall.

Neely struck in the 10th over pinning Lewis lbw, at the other end Curry took a sharp caught and bowled to remove Malone.

Ross Bailey on 19, edged Neely behind to Kevin Martin, quickly followed by Adam Jamison caught by Ryan Brolly off Ardmore professional Marlo Jardine and Derriaghy were in disarray at 47 for 5.

Arguably things could have been worse had Ardmore been on the top of their game in the field with a couple of simple catches put down. To be fair though Peter Bell and Robert Cumins showed some defiance in a 50 run partnership for the 6th wicket.

The reintroduction of Neely though brought that to end, in the 24th over he bowled Bell and in his next a similar fate awaited Cumins. Bell made 24 with a six and 2 fours, Cumins cleared the ropes three times and hit two boundaries in his 30. Neely finished with the excellent analysis 8-3-13-4.

Curry then picked up two catches one in the outfield the other above his head at slip.

After the resumption Lewis took the new ball and he will be wishing he hadn’t.

Paul McDowell was obviously in a rush back up the road smashing him for 26 with 3 sixes and 2 fours, a second over was not on the cards.

Next over though Peter Bell struck removing Martin without scoring.

A sharp piece of fielding then saw Jardine run out for 5, paving the way for Curry’s entrance.

At first circumspect adjusting to the pace of the wicket; then an exquisite languid cover drive off the back foot and the great man was into his stride.

At the other end McDowell cleared the fence and the road, but the delay in retrieving the ball apparently broke his concentration, Bell had his revenge, Jamison taking the catch behind.

At 52-3 Peter Harrigan was dropped, then Decker found his range twice peppering the railway track.

Undoubtedly Derriaghy had their chances to make it a contest, but catches do win matches and dropping Curry was the cardinal sin.

Immediately after the drinks break he brought up his 50 and then produced the shot of the day. Picking the longest boundary between wide long on and mid wicket Decker lofted the ball over the fence and road, depositing it in the bus shelter. The final margin 6 wickets with more than 17 overs to spare.

Later Craig Lewis summed it up by saying it was the worst day he had ever had on the pitch.

But for those watching, what a pleasure to see close up a master craftsman at work.