Defending Twenty20 Cup champions Waringstown breezed to a comfortable five wicket victory over CIYMS at Belmont on Thursday evening thanks to another superb innings from captain Greg Thompson.
The home side were without five senior players - most notably Mark Adair who will be in Ireland’s squad for a two-match series against Afghanistan at Stormont on Sunday and Tuesday.
Regular opener John Matchett was also absent so Jacob Mulder was promoted up the order to bat alongside Chris Dougherty but unfortunately for CIYMS the Irish international couldn’t replicate his fifty against Carrickfergus last time out and was dismissed by Haseeb Azam in the first over.
Overseas professional Obus Pienaar - who was facing his former club - kicked his innings off with a bang by hitting two massive sixes off James Mitchell’s first over and the pair got their side to 41-1 after the first powerplay.
When Pienaar was trapped LBW for a brisk 30 by Phil Eaglestone and Dougherty followed two overs later bowled by McCallan for 25, the innings lost all momentum.
Wickets fell at a frequent rate with Azam returning late in the innings to pick up his first five wicket haul in the NCU as CIYMS were limited to 118-9 after their 20 overs.
The Belfast side got their defence off to the perfect start when James Hall was caught off the bowling of James Cameron-Dow and that would get even better as James McCollum, who will likely have a big role to play against Afghanistan, bowled by Nigel Jones for 1 to leave Waringstown 30-2.
Thompson has started this season in startling form by scoring 306 runs in three league matches and he continued that destructive run by blasting another half-century from 29 balls which included five consecutive fours in the 14th over.
He was dismissed for 57 by Cameron-Dow but it wasn’t enough to stop Waringstown strolling to what was a straightforward victory in the end.
In truth, this match and many of the Twenty20 contests have a flat feeling to them and it isn’t a spectator-friendly event watching under-strength teams - whether that be through injury or unavailability - battling it out. .
These are the two best teams in the Union going by last years performances and the recruitment done over the winter months but it didn’t feel like a game of massive importance as it should when the two powerhouses of NCU cricket face off.
The competition does give young players a chance to impress at the highest level and those experiences are crucial for their development and progression, but we need to find a way of making this tournament feel more important and prestigious rather than playing just for the sake of it.