North Down captain Alistair Sheilds hoping to build on cup success

North Down captain Alistair Shields is hoping his side can use the success they achieved last year as a springboard heading into the 2021 season.

Saturday, 8th May 2021, 6:00 am

The Comber outfit ended their five-year spell without a trophy by storming to the Robinson Services Cup title on home turf and get their new campaign underway in the LVS Twenty20 Cup away to Carrickfergus on Saturday afternoon.

“I spoke to quite a few people about wanting to get over the line in one of those finals and it felt like we were serial bridesmaids for a while,” he said.

“Getting over the line last season will hopefully act as a catalyst and one will bring many more.

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North Down's Alistair Shields.

“I appreciate there is a lot of hard work that needs to go in to get us to that point and the one thing we can take from it is the confidence we can mix it with the best teams and come out on top.”

There will be a slight new look to the North Down side Shields will be leading out with overseas professional Ruhan Pretorius, Jamie Magowan and Aditya Adey all departing The Green.

They’ve brought in Sri Lankan Gayan Maneeshan as a replacement for Pretorius while also adding wicketkeeper Aniruddha Chore and fast bowler Tom Mayes from South Africa who holds an Irish passport.

All three are set to make their debut at Middle Road and Shields is excited by their potential.

“They were all a bit of the unknown when we signed them but there comes a point when you need a bit of a change,” he added.

“Gayan shapes up very well in the nets and I would expect him to score well. He seems like a great athlete in the field too so he will settle in well.

“Aniruddha looks like an excellent keeper and I’ve no doubt he will score heavily too.

“He has played a little bit of Ranji Trophy stuff going back a few years ago before he moved to Oman and onto Belfast. He comes with a good calibre and from what we’ve seen of him in the nets and the practice games there is no doubt he will be a good asset.

“Tom was the biggest unknown I suppose but we got a recommendation from a couple of our sources in South Africa that he was a promising opening bowler.”

Each club faces seven Twenty20 matches this month before a semi-final on June 5 and the final a day later, and Shields says a quick start will be vital.

“If you don’t hit the ground running in that you could be out by week three or four,” he said.

“You can also start to cement your place in the semi-finals so we will be looking to do that and kick on from there.”

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