Coleraine up for Twenty20 final

Coleraine's 'Gordon Cooke
Coleraine's 'Gordon Cooke

The middle of August is traditionally the beginning of the business end of the local cricket season, but the North West Premier League takes a break on Saturday.

The North West Warriors are entertaining the Leinster Lightning in the Newstalk 50-over interprovincial championship at Strabane Park, meaning it is a blank weekend in the league.

Not everyone is happy including Gordon Cooke, the Coleraine captain, who at least has the consolation of having some cricket to look forward to on Sunday, weather permitting. The reigning Premiership champions are defending their Faughan Valley Twenty20 Cup against Donemana at Ardmore with the Bannsiders still in with a chance of finishing the season with three pieces of silverware.

Cooke’s men beat Donemana to win the charity competition at the start of the season and are still in with an outside chance of retaining their league title, all this despite a season which the captain admits has been disappointing.

“We’re third in the league and if we win all our games we will win the league,” he said. “Having said that, with no cricket on Saturday, there are three double-headers to come in a row and I’m sure the weather will have a part to play. In Northern Ireland, what are the chances of getting two dry days in a row? Realistically there’s going to be a washout or two. We have match twos to play against Ardmore and Bready and you have to worry that something will be washed out somewhere.

“I don’t think we have played well this season, but nothing is over yet. If we can get a win on Sunday we are still in with a chance of a treble having already won the charity cup against Donemana.”

Cooke is an honest, free-speaking captain and he admits his team have struggled to recapture the desire of last year’s remarkable season, when they captured the league, Ulster Cup and Faughan Valley.

“I can’t really put my finger on it but to be honest I’m not sure there’s been the same hunger,” he added. “We beat Donemana earlier in the season so we will be confident on Sunday. But Donemana can just turn up and stuff teams. It should be a good game.

“In the league the pressure is on Brigade. It’s between Brigade, Strabane, ourselves and even Donemana. It’s disappointing there’s no cricket on Saturday. The county games in England go ahead when players are with England and I think club cricket should go ahead when the interpro is on.”

Eglinton completed a noteworthy feat last weekend with four players hitting centuries. Stuart Thompson and Stephen Smyth, the Ireland internationals, both reached three figures in the first eleven victory over Bready.

The feat was also repeated down the club. Tim Chopra made an unbeaten 136 for the seconds against Bready. Youngster Michael Lynch retired on reaching three figures for the third eleven against Fox Lodge.