Mark Adair capped off what has been a special 10-day run in his young career by picking up the ‘Man-of-the-Match’ award in CIYMS’ 98-run Gallagher Challenge Cup final win over Instonians at The Green.
The 23-year-old came to the crease with CIYMS on 97-5, and alongside Ryan Hunter put on a partnership worth 110 for the sixth wicket.
Adair contributed 63 of those, and while he wasn’t able to showcase his impressive bowling skills with Cricket Ireland deciding he needed to rest after a rigorous recent schedule , it was his class with the bat that secured him the award.
“The pitch did get better to bat on,” he said after his side’s early troubles. “The guys up top had a real tough time of it.
“Batting with ‘Hunts’ was great because he was rotating strike nicely.
“We took it over by over and we tried to go at three or four runs an over, and if you get the chance to go for a boundary then don’t be afraid.”
The Challenge Cup is widely-regarded as the most prestigious trophy in the local game, and this was Adair’s first time lifting it after a spell in England with Warwickshire and home club Holywood.
He praised the effort of his team-mates that navigated a tough route to the final by picking up wins over Lisburn, Carrickfergus and CSNI.
“The Challenge Cup is played throughout the year and you get the games in between league games,” he said. “The boys stuck together all year round and we didn’t get the easiest draw.
“Getting to the final and winning comprehensively - we are very happy.”
Adair seems to thrive on the biggest stages and he is going to be a crucial member of CI’s side as they go in pursuit of another Premier League title and their first ever Irish Senior Cup.
“Every game is going to be a big occasion from now on and we are coming into the business end of the season.
“These games are all going to matter, whether that’s a cup final or a league game. We just need to keep racking up the wins.”
He was part of Ireland’s Test squad that performed admirably against England last week at Lord’s, picking up figures of 3/32 as they dismissed their hosts for just 85.
Adair also collected another three wickets in the second innings, including the scalp of Joe Root for the second time in the match, and says the occasion was special.
“Lord’s was amazing,” he said. “I don’t really think you can put it into words.
“That morning on day one, walking through the Long Room getting that applause was something I will always remember.”