If the first day of any league season is about putting down a marker, and making a statement of intent, CIYMS made everyone sit up and take notice with their performance at Stormont on Saturday.
A visit to Civil Service North, the Challenge Cup and Twenty20 Cup holders, should have represented the toughest of opening-day assignments, but instead it turned into a stroll in the sunshine.
In truth, there was barely a moment when anything other than a convincing CI victory was going to be the outcome, a testament to the all-round excellence of the visitors and a unexpectedly timid performance from the home side.
The final victory margin was 103 runs, and CI were better in every department, not least the captain Chris Dougherty who struck an almost faultless 121 after Andrew Cowden, the CSNI captain, opted to bowl first.
This was probably as well as Dougherty has batted since he moved to the NCU from his native north west. The pitch was typically April, low and slow, and the home side’s spinners had threatened to bring the scoring grinding to a halt during the middle overs.
But Dougherty played the situation perfectly, manipulating the spinners, running hard and punishing the bad ball, before launching a late-innings assault that took CI to 235 for four, at least 20 above par for the conditions.
The captain added 80 for the first wicket with professional Rassie van der Dussen (38), 57 with John Matchett for the second and then 68 for the third with Jones (29), making an immediate return to Stormont after his winter move.
At 145 for two with 10 overs left, CSNI were thinking they could limit the damage to around 210 but their lack of a natural death bowler allowed CI, and particularly Dougherty, to cause carnage at the death.
There were 64 runs plundered off the last six overs, and 44 off the last four, as Andrew Cowden’s gamble of holding back professional Manny Amjad (3-60) backfired. The Pakistan spinner’s first four overs cost just 14 but few spinners enjoyed bowling at the death and his last five went for 46.
Dougherty, who gave just one chance on 88, reached his century off 142 balls and by the time he was bowled from the final ball of the innings, he had struck 11 fours and two sixes.
What came next wouldn’t have emptied many bars. Regan West briefly offered some measure of aggression before he fell to Stephen Dunn, but CSNI didn’t so much get behind the run rate as dig themselves into the deepest of holes.
The second-wicket partnership between Cowden, who made 10 from 60 balls, and Paddy Beverland, 12 from 46, proceeded at a snail’s pace and left strokemakers Jason van der Merwe and Shane Getkate under the hammer before they had even reached the crease.
Both were cleaned bowled cheaply by the excellent debutant Johnny Thompson (3-39) who joined spinner James Cameron-Dow in taking a wicket in his very first CI over.
Cameron-Dow toyed with the CSNI lower order, taking five for 12 in 9.3 overs as Amjad offered the only resistance with 47 from 63 balls.