James Cameron-Dow thriving after CIYMS reshuffle
James Cameron-Dow will return to Ballygomartin Road today for a Robinson Services Premier League fixture against Woodvale just six days after scoring his first CIYMS century there.
The 31-year-old struck 104 in last Sunday’s 90-run Gallagher Challenge Cup quarter-final victory and brought up a maiden NCU hundred in the process.
Cameron-Dow, who is more known for his left-arm spin, has been promoted up the batting order to number three in the absence of Irish international Mark Adair and has been thriving in his new role. He scored 71 against Carrickfergus last month before following it up with 54 in a league defeat to Waringstown.
Having hit 41 on Test debut for Ireland against Afghanistan in 2019, his batting ability has been clear for some time, but not even Cameron-Dow expected himself to be reaching this landmark.
“We have had a tricky first couple of rounds in the Challenge Cup with two Premier League teams so it was great to progress to the next round,” he reflected.
“From a personal perspective, it was my first hundred in Northern Ireland and it’s fantastic to get that achievement.
“It’s probably something if you asked me last season or the season before I would say it wasn’t on the cards and I suppose even if you asked me a couple of weeks ago it wouldn’t have been on the cards in the near future.
“It was a really special moment and I really enjoyed it.”
CIYMS have rarely been at full strength this season with Adair and new signing Graham Kennedy involved with Ireland while captain Nigel Jones has had coaching commitments with Leinster Lightning and fast bowler Allen Coulter is currently injured.
That has put more importance on the role of Cameron-Dow but as he explains, there isn’t any pressure when walking to the crease.
“I wouldn’t say it’s more responsibility,” he said.
“I think it allows me to play more of my natural game and probably without expectation. I certainly feel like there’s not much expectation.
“I feel like I can walk out to bat, do what comes naturally to me and nobody really expects a huge amount.
“You have Jay (van der Merwe) and Jonesy coming in behind me and Doc (Chris Dougherty) or Matchy (John Matchett) batting with me when I walk out to the crease. I’m certainly the least expected of the batters to do well!”
Cameron-Dow was the joint-highest wicket-taker in the NCU in 2019 after picking up 47 in 29 matches but the off-spinner has had to deal with fluctuations of form and confidence during the current campaign.
He came out of the Twenty20 period with nine wickets but has felt his bowling isn’t where he wants it to be and is working to get back to top form.
“Sunday was probably one of the better days I’ve had with the ball but I’m really missing the regular training and long spells in red ball cricket which I relied on heavily to get me some rhythm and form,” he added.
“I was training three or four times a week with the Knights which I’m not able to do at the moment so I feel like I’m short of rhythm but Saturday-Sunday cricket helps me and the more I play of that the better I feel with the ball.
“Hopefully Sunday was the start of a pathway back to where I want to be.
“There was a little phase where I didn’t bowl a ball in practice in about three weeks so you feel decent at one point one Saturday and then the next I stand at the top of my mark before bowling the first ball of my spell thinking where is this going to go, which is a horrible, horrible feeling.
“Sitting in the changing room after Saturday’s game (vs North Down) where I got hit in front of all three by a full toss after bowling seven overs of absolute rubbish and I was thinking I hate this game!
“Then going into Sunday it’s completely different and you’re sitting at Woodvale in the sun with a winning beer and feeling fantastic about life.
“I’ve got through ups and downs in the past and will have to go through them in the future. It doesn’t make it any easier to go through them and Saturday was really bottom of the bottom.
“It only takes 24 hours until you’re then top of the top. You just have to stay strong and try to keep the peaks and troughs as shallow as possible.”
Cameron-Dow is also busy away from playing duties as he has taken on a new role as Director of Youth Cricket at Instonians.
“It has been absolutely brilliant,” he said
“Summer camps are running right through until the middle of August and we’ve been into schools, so there has been loads going on.
“We are trying to build up a big number at the young levels which will hopefully produce some really good players as they get older and move into the senior club.
“I’ve been really enjoying that and it’s a good challenge. It’s been busy and it’s been really good.”