Luke Georgeson the clear winner of NCU awards pick after dream debut
The Northern Cricket Union’s senior season recently featured the final round of Robinson Services Premier League fixtures.
Waringstown have already sealed the title while Cliftonville Academy, Lurgan and Drumaness Superkings were crowned champions in the three leagues below the top flight.
CIYMS picked up the prestigious Gallagher Challenge Cup for a fourth time in six seasons and Carrickfergus won the LVS Twenty20 Cup in what was likely the best game of the year against CSNI at The Lawn.
With the season coming to a close, it can only mean one thing – it’s time for our annual awards.
Putting the focus in the main on the Premier League, we will hand out a variety of team and individual awards to mark another fantastic season in the NCU:
Player of the Year
Luke Georgeson (CSNI)
Although only 22, Georgeson arrived in the NCU with a lot of expectation after representing New Zealand in an Under-19 World Cup and videos circulated on social media of him dismissing international star Ross Taylor - but he far and away exceeded them all.
The all-rounder scored seven half-centuries and blasted 115 from 61 balls against Carrickfergus last month to move up to 868 runs from 22 innings.
He averages in excess of 57 in his maiden NCU campaign and has also picked up 31 wickets in 22 matches – a number that can only be bettered by Lisburn’s Josh Manley when it comes to the fast-bowling department.
Georgeson will almost certainly return to Stormont next season and it’s scary to think what a winter playing with the Wellington Firebirds – who offered him a professional contract in June – will do for his progression and development.
He didn’t only perform at club level. Georgeson also scored a maiden List A century for the Northern Knights against Munster Reds and is deservedly Player of the Year.
Batsman of the Year
Andre Malan (Waringstown)
I didn’t think it would be possible for Malan to impress more than he did across his two seasons with CSNI in 2018 and 2019 - but somehow the run machine found a way.
The South African only played in 14 matches but still ended up on 937 runs with four centuries and four half-centuries, resulting in an average of 78.08.
He began the season by scoring 27 and 21 before going into overdrive, hitting 82 against CIYMS and starting the Premier League season with 110 at The Lawn in a win over Instonians.
Scores of 99, an incredible 174 against CIYMS and another 153 in that scintillating display against Carrickfergus followed as Malan further added to his reputation of being the best on display in the NCU over the past few years.
Bowler of the Year
Ben Adair (CSNI)
Adair played a crucial role in helping CSNI reach the LVS Twenty20 Cup final, picking up 10 wickets on their route to that decider against Carrick.
He topped the wicket-taking charts after the T20 phase of the season and is still sitting in the number one spot with one game to go, collecting 35 in 24 to match his best-ever return in a season.
The spinner’s best figures of 6-28 came against CIYMS in July, while Adair also got three against Waringstown, Armagh and Carrickfergus.
Adair contributed in almost every game – there were only five where he didn’t get at least one wicket – in what has been a remarkable campaign.
Team of the Year
Waringstown 1st XI
Any team that can go on a winning run of 11 consecutive matches in perhaps the strongest Premier League in recent times is always going to be the front-runner for this award.
Lee Nelson’s side were heavily beaten by North Down in their second match of the season on June 19 but they haven’t tasted defeat since and stormed to a 31st top-flight title.
Their recruitment over the winter was superb, bringing in Andre Malan as overseas professional and all-rounder Graham Hume from Coleraine...and that pair played a huge role in the success.
Dominating with the bat has been the story of Waringstown’s season as they piled on 300-plus runs on four occasions and also posted 420-6 – a joint club record – against Carrickfergus in July, with all of their key men contributing throughout the campaign.
It would have been interesting to see how they fared in the Challenge Cup if they hadn’t been eliminated for fielding an ineligible player, but they’ll no doubt be targeting that competition again next season.
Signing of the Season
Aniruddha Chore (North Down)
This is a competitive category with the likes of Jeremy Lawlor and Graham Hume putting in a number of impressive performances, but the award goes to North Down’s Chore.
The 29-year-old was averaging over 100 at one stage in the season after a July in which he scored 561 runs in seven innings, including five unbeaten knocks and two centuries against CIYMS and Lisburn.
Having scored 115 in just his second Premier League game against Waringstown, Chore flicked a switch and everything he touched turned to runs.
From when he hit 80 at home to Woodvale on July 10, his scores read: 140*, 69*, 121*, 63*, 85* and 54, when he was finally dismissed in the Challenge Cup final against CIYMS.
Another 83 last weekend means he is sitting on 1,081 runs for the season at an average of over 76 and it’s almost hard to put into words just how impressive Chore, who also tops the wicketkeeper dismissals charts, has been.
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