Andre Malan makes winning return to NCU
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The South African arrived in Northern Ireland on Monday after completing his quarantine and made an immediate impact by collecting figures of 2-29 before scoring 27 as the Villagers successfully chased 134 in the last over with captain Lee Nelson (42) and Greg Thompson (22*) leading the way.
Malan enjoyed two superb seasons with CSNI, hitting 2,178 runs – which included nine centuries and 10 half-centuries – while also picking up 84 wickets before the Stormont club decided he wouldn’t be coming back for a third campaign.
That’s when Waringstown stepped in to secure his services and Malan is delighted to be back in the NCU with a club he admired during his previous stint.
“From my previous two seasons in the NCU, I have always found Waringstown very respectful when I played against them and obviously very good at cricket,” he said.
“They have a competitive sense as well that I really enjoy and I’ve settled in well with the team.
“Saturday was the first time I was with everybody because Tuesday’s training was rained off after about half an hour and Thursday’s game was rained off.
“In my previous two seasons, they were always a side that if you played against them you knew you were up against it.
“It looked from being on the outside that they had a really good basic structure in place with good people, good players focusing on the right things and their track record over those years – and maybe forever – speaks volumes.
“They are definitely a team having played against them I would say I respected a lot.
“I’ve only been here since Monday so usually it takes a couple of weeks to get settled in so I think I’m still in that phase right now.”
The 29-year-old has been joined by countryman Graham Hume at The Lawn – an experienced and talented all-rounder who is in the process of qualifying for Ireland.
They shared the new ball at Ballygomartin Road and Malan is excited to play alongside Hume after battling it out with him over the years in South Africa.
“I knew Graham from back home,” he added.
“We always played against each other but he is a dream to play with.
“He’s probably one of the most economical and accurate bowlers you will find around and is also a very good guy.
“As good a cricketer as he is, I think what probably matches that is what a good person he is as well and that’s needed in a club environment.
“You have a guy who can put in the performances on the field but is also a very good person off it too. I’m really looking forward to hopefully bowling a few more overs in tandem with him.”
Malan will return to Stormont on Friday evening in what will be a crucial game in terms of LVS T20 Cup semi-final qualification against unbeaten CSNI.
With the top four progressing, Waringstown currently sit fifth after winning one and losing two of the three matches they’ve been able to play while a further two have been washed out.
After two seasons and making so many friends during his time in Belfast, Malan admits it will be an odd experience coming up against his former club.
“It’s going to be extremely strange,” he said.
“My only experiences with the NCU and Northern Ireland has been Stormont and CSNI as a reference point.
“I had a really enjoyable two seasons there so to go back there on Friday evening and play against them will be extremely interesting and weird to experience.”
Malan hadn’t played a Twenty20 game since September 2019 before Saturday’s outing and has only been involved in four games in the past 14 months.
Compare that to the 32 months of non-stop cricket he had played before the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to it, he’s looking to get back into a good rhythm and help Waringstown achieve more success.
“I wouldn’t say I have a number in terms of wickets and runs,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s going to be possible for myself or anybody else to have a season of 1200 runs and 40+ wickets in the same season.
“I would say the goal would be to get the team winning as many matches as possible and if I can contribute to that in any shape or form I will be very happy.
“Every side is going to be a challenge to play against so I’m looking forward to playing cricket again.
“This season it’ll probably be more about starting over for me and having a feel of playing cricket every week again and then hopefully I can put in some decent performances.
“At the end of the day, if the team wins that’s the most important thing.”
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