Destructive batting from Greg Thompson propelled the Northern Knights to an eight run victory over Leinster Lightning in Pembroke on Monday evening and into pole position to lift the Inter-Provincial Twenty20 Trophy.
With an overnight downpour and morning rain in Dublin resulting in the earlier game between the North West Warriors and Munster Reds being cancelled, the Knights eventually got underway for a 13-over game just under two hours after the scheduled starting time.
Batting first, their innings got off to the worst possible start when Shane Getkate was bowled by Tyrone Kane first ball and his opening partner James McCollum would follow shortly after, bowled by Peter Chase to leave the Knights 2-2 after one over.
Murray Commins (17) and Gary Wilson (21) began to rebuild but it was Waringstown captain Thompson that grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and blasted 65* from just 31 balls, including four fours and six maximums.
Thompson has been in the form of his life this season with the bat, hitting 570 runs for club in all competitions - a total which can be bettered only by two overseas professionals and is just under 200 better than the next Irish-qualified player.
He has long shown his versatility and ability to step up in big games and pressure situations - look no further than his recent half-century against Malahide in the Irish Senior Cup to drag Waringstown to what was ultimately a winning position alongside Lee Nelson.
The 31-year-old has been in the Ireland squad before, making his ODI debut over a decade ago against Bangladesh and has played 11 times in total, and now is absolutely the right time for his reselection if an international career is something he wants to pursue.
These festivals and Inter-Provincial matches offer us the chance to watch the very best players this country has to offer playing against each other, and Thompson is the one that comes out above anyone else from the past few days of action when you also take into account his 37* against Munster on Sunday.
Ireland will be gearing up for a Twenty20 World Cup qualifying campaign in October and November, which will be held in the United Arab Emirates, and Thompson’s name is one that should certainly feature in that touring party.
His blistering innings seemed like it would be in vain at one point as Leinster flew out of the traps in chase of their 139 target with Gareth Delany (36) and Andrew Balbirnie (44) putting on 73 for the second wicket in just 26 balls.
CIYMS spinner James Cameron-Dow was the match-winner for the Knights with the ball, running Delany out before claiming three wickets to obliterate Lightning’s middle order and they eventually finished on 130/9.
They now sit top of the Trophy standings heading into August’s Twenty20 Festival in Bready and will more than fancy their chances of turning that position into some silverware and winning this tournament for the first time.