To watch Greg Thompson flail Graeme McCarter to all parts of Stormont on Saturday was to wonder why the Waringstown all-rounder hasn’t been given an opportunity in Ireland’s limited-overs sid.
This was the man whose brilliance probably decided last September’s Irish Cup final in the villagers’ favour, and this stunning innings, an unbeaten 80 from just 56 balls against Civil Service North, was a reminder that he is the best ‘finisher’ in Irish club cricket.
Sadly, performances in club cricket north of the border are largely a moot point as far as Ireland’s selectors are concerned. What was most impressive about Thompson on Saturday was that not a single other batsman on either side scored at anything like the same rate.
On a venue where Waringstown had been beaten in each of the last two seasons, despite a fine half-century from James Hall they were struggling at 179 for five after 45 overs batting first.
That was the signal for Thompson to cut loose. Shane Getkate (0-32 off three overs) was treated brutally and McCarter, so impressive since his arrival from Coleraine, had no answer as Thompson mixed typically audacious sweeps with formidable brutality.
The unbeaten 75-run partnership with David Dawson came in less than eight overs, the latter a virtual bystander on 10. Those closing five overs yielded a match-winning 56 runs. Thompson struck eight fours and two sixes and from nowhere Waringstown had 235 to defend.
Fresh from their superb run-chase against CIYMS the night before in the Lagan Valley Steels Twenty20 Cup, CSNI started positively, 40 without loss after 10 overs hinted at their new-found confidence but thereafter openers Andrew Cowden and Dylan Agnew slowed up and only put pressure on those coming behind.
Just 21 came in the next 11 before Cowden was caught at mid-on off the impressive young seamer James Mitchell and Agnew aimed an ugly heave at Gary Kidd (2-14) and was bowled.
It was hard not to feel sympathy for Jason van der Merwe. He was intent on recklessly attacking every delivery, but then it wasn’t his fault that CSNI were so far behind the rate.
He was stumped by wicketkeeper Marcus McClean as he charged Kidd, but for a while Mansoor Amjad, fresh from his remarkable unbeaten 98 against CI, worried the villagers, hitting six boundaries in effortless fashion.
At 116 for three after 34 overs, and the Pakistani going well, it was an even game, but after Getkate was lbw to Lee Nelson (3-26), the wheels came off and how.
Mansoor (43 from 44) went soon after, a fine edge through to McClean off Waringstown’s best bowler, Hall (4-38).
From 142 for four, CSNI lost their last six wickets for just 17. A game that had appeared to be on a knife-edge was over in the blink of an eye. A 79-run margin said little about what went before.