Adam Berry delighed with Lisburn progress
After they followed their opening day victory against Waringstown by losing three consecutive matches, not many would have expected Lisburn to be finishing in the LVS Twenty20 Cup top-four.
The Wallace Park side were impressive at The Lawn but lost out to Carrickfergus, CSNI and CIYMS to leave their hopes of a semi-final berth seemingly out of reach with teams above them in form.
Flash forward a couple of weeks later, Adam Berry’s side have won three in a row - including a 10-wicket triumph over Woodvale on Friday evening and a three-wicket win against North Down on Saturday - to book their spot in the knockout stages after finishing third.
It was the result against North Down - last year’s Robinson Services Cup winners and Twenty20 Cup runners-up - that was the most surprising and left the Comber outfit missing out on next weekend’s action.
Captain Alistair Shields continued his superb form by scoring 52 from 47 deliveries but didn’t receive support of any note as North Down ended their 20 overs on 102/9.
Lisburn got over the line with four balls to spare in a tense affair as David Simpson (22*) and Callum Atkinson held their nerve.
While many on the outside didn’t give them much of a chance, the feeling within their camp remained positive and captain Berry was full of praise for his squad.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything more,” he said.
“It was great to get a win against Woodvale on Friday night and then follow it up on Saturday against North Down
“We always believed that if we played well there would be no reason why we couldn’t progress in the competition.
“In Twenty20 anybody can take the game away from you. Carrick beat us when Jacques Snyman got a brilliant hundred and then we played a 10-over game against CSNI which is even more of a lottery.
“Against a strong CIYMS team we were missing Josh (Manley), Boyd (Rankin) and Matthew Humphreys, so that was always going to be difficult for us.
“Everybody has held their own and we have done our best in terms of training.
“Everybody has put in the hard work and it was good to get the reward this weekend.
“It’s been very much a case of telling the boys to go out and enjoy themselves because we have a good team and have faith in each other.”
While overseas professional Faiz Fazal’s arrival provided the club with a massive boost, it has been a team effort that has allowed Lisburn to reach the latter stages of the competition.
Atkinson picked up seven wickets across the latest three wins while Robert Rankin scored 52* in an opening stand worth 115 with Fazal against Woodvale.
“It has been a case of everybody putting their hand up at different times whether that’s with the bat, ball or in the field,” added Berry.
“Our bowling and fielding has really came on in recent weeks and that has been a big thing.
“I think it’s (their success) testament to the hard work that’s been put in and getting the right balance to the team in terms of the batting order and bowling bowlers at the right time.
“As a group and team, we are on a bit of a journey at the moment so we are taking each game as it comes.”
Berry will be hoping for a much better performance at Middle Road this Saturday than the one they put in last time out against Carrick.
Jacques Snyman (121) stole the show on that evening at Wallace Park to help the visitors post 200/4 before Neil Gill collected figures of 4-9 as Lisburn were bowled out for 84 in 16.5 overs.
Carrick finished above Lisburn only on net run-rate after winning three of the five matches they played and Berry is looking forward to the occasion.
“Hopefully we can take the momentum that we have got,” he said.
“Carrick will start as favourites. They have had a really good campaign and have a very strong T20 side.
“We will train hard this week, put our best foot forward and see how we go next Saturday.”