A week remaining in their NCU Premier League season and Carrickfergus are safe from relegation. Not many people would have predicted that back in mid-July.
Iain Parkhill’s men secured mathematical safety by beating Ballymena in a rain-affected match at Eaton Park on Saturday, a result that almost certainly consigned their hosts to relegation.
It was back on July 4 when these teams last met and their seasons were seemingly heading in opposite directions. Ballymena won comfortably for their second victory of the season and Carrickfergus had lost their opening six matches.
There seemed to be no way back but then they stunned title favourites CIYMS on July 16, beginning a run of four victories in seven matches. Ballymena, whose run rate is significant worse than Lisburn’s, must now hope the Wallace Park club lose heavily to Waringstown on Wednesday night and they must beat Civil Service North by a considerable margin next Saturday.
Ballymena’s lack of batting depth once again was instrumental in their undoing. James Kennedy’s team were well poised on 107 for three after 40 overs batting first and had professional Azeem Ghumann stayed until the end they could posted a challenging target.
Ghumann and John Glass had added 85 in 27 overs but when Ghumann fell to Jamies Holmes for 51, after hitting just three boundaries in 108 balls, the innings subsided. Glass hit two fours and a six in his 40, but just 45 runs came in those last 10 overs. Both Anthony Martin and Ryan Eagleson bowled their 10 overs for less than 20.
Sam Glass then struck twice to remove Parkhill and Johnny Ring to make Carrickfergus 53 for two but with Michael Gilmour still there on 35 and Holmes well established on 15, the score had reached 83 for two in 26 overs when heavy rain hit.
The rain did such damage that it was agreed to abandon the game, Carrickfergus 27 runs ahead on Duckworth-Lewis.
Lisburn are not quite safe yet after a spectacular batting collapse at Comber. The visitors had reached 70 for three against title contenders North Down with Robert Rankin making 37 before he was one of three victims for Pieter Malan.
Their collapse rivalled CIYMS’ at The Lawn as seven wickets fell for just four runs. Jacob Mulder (5-13) took a hat-trick, including four wickets in five balls, as the last five batsmen were dismissed without scoring.
North Down lost three wickets chasing the target of 75, with left-handed opener Andrew Sutherland making 12 on his final appearance before retirement.
In Section One, the promotion race remains alive after the weather washed out the matches of contenders Derriaghy and Muckamore at Woodvale and Templepatrick respectively.