At a time when Ireland are searching frantically for the heir to the throne of Boyd Rankin and Trent Johnston, Nathan Waller could just be the right man at the right time.
The 22-year-old Zimbabwean all-rounder, who joined CIYMS from Lisburn over the winter, qualified for Ireland in February and will be looking to catch the eye of the international selectors as the Irish Cup gets under way on Saturday.
CI, who have won two matches out of two in the NCU Premier League, take part in one of the ties of the first round against reigning North West champions Coleraine at Sandel Lodge on Saturday.
Waller moved to Belmont after breaking ties with Lisburn after two years at Wallace Park. His ambitions to put himself in the window of county teams was the principal reason behind the split.
“It was a difficult decision to leave Lisburn, I got to know everyone there pretty well but at the end of the day it was a cricketing decision,” he said. “Lisburn could not release me midweek to go and play in England while CI could. That was the main factor. I played some county second eleven cricket last year and I’m hoping to do more this year.”
Waller’s search for a career in the game is two-fold. He has cut ties with Zimbabwe but as an Irish passport holder he insists his international future is here. However, he is also determined to earn a county contract.
As a tall fast bowler in the mould of Rankin or Johnston, his international prospects appear best with the ball. But a magnificent unbeaten 135 on the opening day of the season against Lisburn underline his destructive batting potential.
Waller said: “Over the winter I was working on the mental side of things and I seem to have hit quite a good patch of form with the bat. At the minute I’m working harder on my bowling than my batting. I wouldn’t say my bowling has taken a dip but I haven’t been getting the results I wanted in the last couple of games. It would be nice if both were firing but as long as one is firing it’s not all bad. I’m glad I’m getting runs while working on a few things with my bowling.”
Waller has been named in the first Northern Knights squad of the summer and a sign of his commitment to the Irish squad is his pledge to play in the interpros in the event of a county call from Sussex.
“If the Knights have a game and there is a county game I will pay for the Knights,” he confirmed. “I’m committed to the Knights and potentially if it all works out, Ireland. If the call comes that would be great.
“I’m working towards getting a chance with Ireland. It’s four years since I last played representative cricket with Zimbabwe and from what I can see I have been eligible for Ireland since February. There could be an opening there and I’m hoping my performances this season could get me a call.”
And what about that unbeaten 135?
“I didn’t give up, even at 150 odd for eight. I knew if someone stayed with me at the other end we could have a chance and John Matchett did that. He showed some good fight for such a young guy.”