Chris Doughery believes that if CIYMS play to their absolute best in Friday’s NCU Challenge Cup final at The Green, he will be lifting the famous trophy tonight.
The Belmont club are narrow favourites against Instonians after assembling probably one of the best squads seen in the NCU’s top flight.
If you are an Instonian, you may just worry that CI’s name seems to be on the trophy after the way they negotiated tough ties against North Down and Waringstown.
Dougherty probably won’t ever forget the semi-final against Waringstown at Belmont, where his 132 and successive boundaries off the final two balls of the match from James Cameron-Dow secured a remarkable three-wicket victory.
“That was one of the best games I have played in,” said Dougherty. “We had lost Rassie (van der Dussen) and once we were five wickets down they were probably huge favourites but Nathan Burns and James Cameron-Dow supported me right to the end. It was great to get over the line, we never gave up and showed great fight. It was great to see we can do that against a side like Waringstown.”
Since then though CI have had their problems. Waringstown gained immediately revenge for that cup defeat with a crushing win at Belmont in the league the following Saturday and then Carrickfergus beat Dougherty’s men in the shock result of the season so far.
Injuries have undoubtedly played their part in CI’s slight slump in form but Dougherty is confident they have overcome the worst.
“Over the last month we have had guys with niggles, JT (Johnn Thompson), James and Jonesy, and Trevor Britton as well,” he continued. “We have lost a game to Carrick that could be costly in the league but we still have times to put things right there.
“The players all played on Saturday against CSNI and came through ok.”
Dougherty doesn’t duck the question about his intentions at the toss if the weather is dry.
“We have got 250, 260 there in the last two games and it’s usually a good wicket at Comber,” he said. “We will probably look to bat again and try to do a similar sort of thing. Hopefully we can get a good start and the likes of JT will be coming in at the back end of the innings to pile up the runs.”
There will be no danger of CI underestimating their opponents. The clubs have yet to be play each other this season because of the vagaries of the fixture list, but Dougherty quickly identifies the potential dangermen.
“James Shannon and Andrew White are obviously the two best players they have. But they have Neil Russell and Nikolai Smith who are aggressive with the bat.
“Zach Rushe seems to be doing well again with the ball and Stephen Bunting is dangerous. They have five or six really good cricketers.”
CI’s focus though, will be on their own game.
Dougherty said: “Everyone a the club is really looking forward to it. It’s a massive day for the club.
“If we play to our best we believe we will win.”
CIYMS: (from) Chris Dougherty, Rassie van der Dussen, Nigel Jones, Johnny Thompson, John Matchett, Aaron Johnston, Nathan Burns, Trevor Britton, James Cameron-Dow, Stephen Dunn, Jack Beattie, Ben Smith, Adam Beattie.
Play is scheduled to start at 11am and the umpires are Phil Thompson and Mark Hawthorne. If play is washed out today, it will be replayed tomorrow Forecast: Early rain clearing to heavy showers, some of which could be thundery. Maximum temperature: 16 degrees. Chance of rain: 90 per cent.