With Waringstown set to kick off their 2019 Robinson Services Premier League campaign against Muckamore on Saturday, captain Greg Thompson is hoping his side can adapt better to red ball cricket than they did last season.
The Villagers won four trophies in 2018, including the Challenge Cup and Irish Senior Cup, but could only watch on as CIYMS stormed to the Premier League crown by a margin of 20 points which included two victories over Waringstown.
“The Premier League is getting tougher and tougher to win,” said Thompson. “Most teams have gone out and strengthened so it will be a tough one to win, but we enter every competition with the same mindset of hopefully performing well and trying to win it.
“I think we could probably adapt better to red ball cricket. We have proved for the last few years that we are very adept at playing white ball cup games, but we could focus a bit more on our red ball skills and delivering a bit more often.
“The thing last year was the volume of games. We went the distance in all of the cups and that probably took its toll and we probably ran out of steam in the league. You never want to do that. You want to be able to compete in every competition until the end.”
Waringstown tend to have a packed schedule most summers given their success and have added David Dawson to their squad alongside overseas professional Haseeb Azam. Multiple youngsters have left The Lawn in recent times in order to gain more first team experience, but Thompson is confident that the next generation at the club will have a big impact in the near future.
“We struggle more than we should because there are cricketers like Morgan Topping, Aaron Wright, Jonny Waite and Jack Carson that in theory could be in our squad,” he added.
“I think they’ve made the right decision and they are getting great experience and exposure elsewhere. That has probably had a knock-on effect to us, but the crop of youngsters underneath that are coming through and are hopefully one year closer to putting in match-winning performances.”
23-year-old James McCollum was rewarded for his form at Waringstown and the Northern Knights with an Ireland debut against Afghanistan earlier this year and is in the squad to take on England at Malahide on Friday.
McCollum is a big-game player and hit two half-centuries in the Challenge Cup and Irish Senior Cup finals last season, and Thompson says he is a role model for the younger players with international ambitions.
“I’m delighted for him. We will probably miss James in terms of availability at times this year,” he said. “Waringstown and his home club Lurgan can take great pride in producing a Test cricketer.
“On one hand we hope to see him as much as possible because it’s great to have a player of his quality, but if we don’t it means he is blazing a trail for Ireland that our youngsters will hopefully go on to emulate.”