How Waringstown must be sick of the sight of Civil Service North in the NCU Challenge Cup.
It was the Stormont side, aided by the rain, who destroyed their dream in the final two summers ago, and in another weather-affected semi-final on Saturday at The Lawn, CSNI again dealt the fatal blow to the villagers’ cup aspirations.
But while you could argue that the weather was the single biggest factor in the 2014 final, there was no disputing who deserved to win what was at times a heated semi-final.
While Waringstown were cautious with the bat after losing a crucial toss, CSNI, inspired by the unlikely buccaneering figure of captain Andrew Cowden, threw caution to the wind from ball one.
Cowden smashed Cobus Pienaar through the covers in the opening over of a run chase that saw the visitors requiring 194 in 33 overs and when Wayne Horwood lofted the professional back over his head for six, Waringstown were realising this was a pitch nowhere near as difficult as some of their batsmen made it look.
Horwood and Cowden (29) eventually fell but Waringstown were shoddy in the field, uncharacteristic misfields, unnecessary overthrows and a match-defining drop when Mansoor Amjad, the Pakistan professional, was just nine.
Tempers were frayed in the field too, captain Lee Nelson, Greg Thompson and Kyle McCallan all becoming involved with Jason van der Merwe, prompting intervention from Alex Adams and Howard Bingham, the umpires.
Together with Shane Getkate, Mansoor took part in a partnership that delivered to Waringstown’s bowlers as big a pounding as they have taken in years.
The fourth-wicket pair plundered 97 runs in just 58 balls. Getkate was stunning, effectively ending Waringstown’s resistance when he swatted Kidd for successive sixes over long-on, a trick repeated by Mansoor twice, once against Phil Eaglestone over mid-wicket and then lofting McCallan twice over long-on to secure victory with 5.2 overs to spare.
Mansoor was unbeaten on 71 from just 58 balls, including five fours and four sixes, though his blistering run-rate was surpassed by Getkate’s dazzling 46 from just 24, with four fours and three maximum.
This was his most impressive, and probably most important, innings for the club.
Contrast this swashbuckling style with Waringstown’s innings that was riddled with self-doubt, driven by perceived demons in the pitch that didn’t exist.
Cowden, with all due respect, should not have been allowed to bowl five overs for 23 runs, and it was only when the impressive David Dawson , who struck two sixes in an unbeaten 32 and McCallan (20 no) got together to smash 49 in just 25 balls for the seventh wicket that the villagers released the hand-brake.
While hauling Waringstown to respectability, Dawson and McCallan inadvertently provided the aggressive template for CSNI to follow.