It may be far too early to start talking about one team dominating the NCU this summer, but CIYMS looked ominously good on their way to winning the Twenty20 Cup last Sunday.
The first trophy of the season has taken pride of place at Belmont and now the Challenge Cup, perhaps the trophy they crave most, is next in the sights.
The unenviable task of stopping CI has fallen next to North Down, who host Chris Dougherty’s team just a fortnight after they were crushed by 140 runs in the Premier League.
Marty Moreland, the North Down captain, won the toss and bowled first that day, but he won’t make that mistake on Saturday.
“The disappointing thing from the first match was that we had Rassie out when the score was about 90,” he said. “We had a chance to capitalise but Nigel Jones took his time and then took the game away from us in the last 10 overs or so.”
North Down were without veteran wicketkeeper Peter Shields and all-rounder Taimur Khan through sickness that day, but both play tomorrow alongside left-arm seamer Gavin McKenna. Alistair Shields and Peter Davison are unavailable but this could be a day for experience.
“Gavin has been over a few times and played games for the seconds,” Moreland said. “The last senior game he played was against The Hills in the Irish Cup and he bowled his 10 overs for hardly anything. He’s been playing some cricket in England and hopefully he will be available a bit more during the season.
“It’s a boost for us because Gavin offers some different being a left-armer. The rest of the our bowling is all medium pace.”
Moreland certainly doesn’t think this is mission impossible for North Down, who are without a Challenge Cup final success since 2010.
He has targeted van der Dussen, Jones and Dougherty as the three big scalps.
“In my opinion Waringstown are the better team of the two, they have a bit more depth,” he said. “You have Chris Dougherty, the pro and Jonesy, and if you can get those three for very little, you have a real chance. That’s easier said than done of course.
“It’s a help that Peter is back. He saves us 20 runs behind the stumps and we missed Taimur’s bowling in the last match. We just need him to find some form with the bat.”
Moreland is honest enough to admit it. A North Down victory is decidedly unlikely without a big contribution from Pieter Malan. The South African professional is in prime form after that 107 last Sunday.