Waringstown are now the only unbeaten team in the Ulster Bank NCU Premier League, having ended CIYMS’ own record with a convincing win at Belmont on Saturday.
Without Phil Eaglestone and Jonathan Bushe, two of their most experienced cricketers, the villagers passed their most demanding test so far, winning by 127 runs in a game much more hard-fought than the crushing margin of victory suggests.
Games sometimes come down to fine margins and on a day when both teams shelled catches, Waringstown took the important ones and CIYMS missed the one that could realistically have turned the game in their favour.
Waringstown, inserted by Chris Dougherty, had slumped 62 for three, having just lost Kyle McCallan and James Hall in the same Trevor Britton over. CI were in the ascendancy and Lee Nelson, having made just a single, miscued as he tried to strike Jacob Mulder over mid-on. Colin Hunter, running back, could not take a fairly regulation catch and in an instant we had the game’s defining moment.
Nelson went on to play arguably his finest innings in senior cricket, all the more impressive because he read the match situation perfectly. CI continued to take wickets regularly, with Shaheen Khan trapped lbw for 45 from just 44 balls and Greg Thompson striking two fours and two sixes in a 25 that was a little too frenetic, but while Nelson remained the visitors were in command.
Had he fallen at any stage before the closing five overs CI could well have been chasing something in and around 230 or less, but the captain did the groundwork, reaching 50 in a conservative 71 balls before not so much accelerating as exploding in a late charge that saw 70 pummelled off the closing six overs.
Nelson’s next 44 took just 21 balls – amidst the bludgeoned blows over mid-wicket and back-foot caresses through cover there was a brilliant reverse-sweep for four off Mulder – and the only pity was that he fell six runs of a second century of the season. His 94 had come off 92 balls and contained six fours and three sixes.
Even then CI, with the spectre of Rassie van der Dussen looming large, would have regarded a 250 run-chase as within their capabilities, but when Adam Dennison (24 no) struck four boundaries in the final over off Ross Boultwood to take Waringstown to 270, it felt like a major physiological blow.
CI’s run chase started well, with Dougherty aggressive and van der Dussen lofting Kyle McCallan effortlessly over long-on but then came the other defining moment in the ninth over. Khan, who has gone past the outside edge so many times this summer, found the perfect line and length and van der Dussen, pushing forward, edged to Dennison who dived low down to his right.
It was a stunning catch for a teenager keeping for the first time this season and the departure of their talisman sucked the spirit out of CI. Dougherty (34) was caught at mid-on off Gary Kidd (3-22), sparking a collapse from 66 for one to 103 for seven. Thompson, bowling leg-spin, took four for 27 and a defiant 40 from Britton merely delayed the inevitable.
CI were dismissed for 143, their unbeaten league record over. Waringstown’s winning sequence stretches to 14.