Gary Wilson pleased with the form of CSNI
CSNI head into the LVS Twenty29 Cup semi-finals as the form team after making their way through the league phase unbeaten.
The Stormont outfit ended up on 26 points - 10 ahead of Carrickfergus in second - to finish as the only side who didn’t lose a game and set up an encounter with defending champions CIYMS today.
Gary Wilson’s side have been extremely impressive, starting off with a nine-wicket victory over Instonians on the opening day and they didn’t look back from that point onwards.
They’ve made serene progress to this stage with last Friday’s 11-run win at home to Waringstown the only match that has felt like a tight contest. Wilson has been delighted with the performances put in by his squad but he wants to turn that momentum and form into silverware.
“We played some pretty good cricket but I don’t think we played our best for some of it,” he said. “You want to be playing your best cricket towards the end of the competition and I think we did that.
“It was a good win first up against Instonians but it was pleasing to see the performances we put in at the back end when we had already qualified. There’s no point in playing your best cricket at the start.
“You want to be playing it at the back end when there are trophies up for grabs.
“It has been a while since our club won a trophy and for a club of our size that’s probably not acceptable. We want to start winning trophies again.”
CSNI last picked up the Twenty20 Cup back in 2014 when Griffin Nieuwoudt (82*) and Jason van der Merwe (48) - who will be on the opposition today - helped them reach 162-6 before Ben Adair (3-24) starred with the ball in a 12-run win over North Down.
They have only reached the semi-finals once since then and that ended in a heavy 51-run defeat to North Down three years ago.
It is a new look CSNI side even since that game and Wilson feels their success this season has been a mix of personnel and intent.
“We try to play a positive brand of Twenty20 cricket,” he added.
“It helps when you have some good players. The way Ross (Adair) is striking the ball at the minute and Luke (Georgeson) has played very well too.
“Thommo (Stuart Thompson) has started well and we have some very good players.
“Our bowling attack is pretty strong as well and is arguably stronger than our batting.
“Twenty20 is a funny game and anybody can beat anybody on their day, so we just have to approach it with the same positivity on Saturday and hopefully we play well.”
Ross Adair has been one of the standout performers in the competition this season, scoring 252 runs at a strike-rate of 171 across six matches which has allowed CSNI to get off to a flying start more often than not.
He has put himself in prime position for a Northern Knights recall when the Twenty20 action gets underway later this season and could have a big say on proceedings this weekend.
“He’s an excellent striker of a cricket ball,” said Wilson. “The way he has fitted in at the club has been super. It’s as much about having good people around as it is having good players.
“Everybody has taken to him really well and we are all really pleased for him that he’s playing so well. Hopefully he can take that into the Inter-Pro series if he gets picked for the Knights.”
His opening partner Luke Georgeson - a new signing ahead of the 2021 campaign - has been just as impressive by hitting 226 runs while picking up seven wickets.
He has cemented his place in the Knights team and Wilson is already determined to get him back next year.
“He’s down at the club almost every night doing his coaching and I don’t have a bad word to say about him,” he added.
“He’s fitted in so well and is very mature for a 22-year-old bloke. He already feels at home at the club and we will be looking to tie him up for next year as soon as possible.”
CSNI have already beat CIYMS this season - a 19-run triumph on May 13 - but Wilson feels they could enter as underdogs against a team that have been the form side in recent years.
“They are a good side,” he said. “They’ve been the team to beat over the last five or six years in the NCU and I’m not expecting that to change this year.
“I presume they’ll head into the weekend as favourites but we are quietly confident that if we can play our best cricket then we will be good enough.”
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