Lisburn’s cup hopes vanish after bizarre decision at the toss

Action from Muckamore's Challenge Cup game with Carrickfergus at the weekend
Action from Muckamore's Challenge Cup game with Carrickfergus at the weekend

There is a plausible argument that Lisburn’s hopes of reaching the Arthur J Gallagher Challenge Cup semi-finals effectively ended at Saturday’s toss.

Facing a Waringstown team without a single frontline seam bowler, Lisburn skipper Adam Berry called correctly but inexplicably opted to chase on a dry Wallace Park surface, leaving his batsmen at the mercy of the best spin attack in Ireland. His opposite number Lee Nelson could hardly contain his surprise, or privately, a relieved grin.

It would wrong to savage Berry, the youngster is an intelligent cricketer, and the decision to bowl was almost certainly made at the behest of senior players influenced by the league game between these clubs when Lisburn impressively came close to chasing down Waringstown’s 266.

By remarkable coincidence the villagers totalled exactly 266 again, but that is where the comparison between the respective matches ends.

At 30 without loss, and Robert Rankin and Richard Simpson comfortable against an opening attack missing the injured Cobus Pienaar and unavailable Phil Eaglestone, Lisburn were apparently making serene progress.

But in the space of five overs they lost five wickets for just seven runs. Rankin was lbw swinging across the line to Nelson and then two overs later Simpson bowled attempting to force off the back foot.

The damage was largely self-inflicted, professional Cody Chetty encapsulating Lisburn’s demise by recklessly driving Gary Kidd to cover before he had scored. The last realistic hope, Steve Lazars, was soon gone too, caught behind by Marcus McClean, as Kidd went on his merry way, taking 6-12 in nine overs. His partner in crime, Kyle McCallan, wasn’t even required to bowl.

With Nelson taking 3-30 and teenager Jack Carson removing top scorer David Simpson for 19, Lisburn were dismissed for 79 in just 28.1 overs.

Earlier Lisburn, aside from gifting Waringstown 42 extras, had the visitors concerned at 72 for three and then 96 for four.

James McCollum was beaten by a beauty from Callum Atkinson in the second over, Adam Dennison edged behind and Nelson went cheaply to David Simpson. Hall looked in superb touch for his 42, but Lisburn were arguably in the ascendancy when the opener mistimed Richard McConkey to mid-on.

The tie was in the balance but Greg Thompson inevitably produced when he needed to, his 55 from 64 balls containing seven boundaries and including a match-defining partnership of 83 with the busy David Dawson (26).

McCallan, who struck three sixes in his 44 from 48 balls, then added 57 for the seventh wicket with man-of-the-match Kidd (22) to take the game out of Lisburn’s reach.

With at least three key players missing, this was some statement of intent from the villagers.