NCU speculation starts early
Alistiar Bushe (News Letter)
Speculation is already under way about who will be moving where in the NCU Premier League over the winter.
Much of the attention will focus on CIYMS, who are sure to be in the market for new players with Craig McMillan not returning to Northern Ireland after one summer in the NCU.
It is believed CI have set the wheels in motion to bring Ben McCord, the New Zealand all-rounder, back to Belmont next season. However, they have also been linked with moves for a number of other players.
With North Down yet to declare their hand about the future of professional Daniel Harding, the Australian is one possible target for the Belmont hierarchy.
Alistair Shields, the talented young North Down batsman, is also thought to have attracted coveted glances from CI, who are rumoured to have offered him a guaranteed top-five slot next season.
Harding, who finished as the NCU’s leading wicket-taker, has also attracted interest from newly-promoted Muckamore.
Waringstown are expected to bring back South African professional Victor Mpitsang for a second season, while Civil Service North are in talks to retain New Zealander Kieran Noema-Barnett.
However, CSN are also thought to targeting new arrivals, with Gary Kidd, the Waringstown left-arm spinner, one name on their list. Waringstown will also be linked with Derek Heasley, if the former Ireland all-rounder calls time on his spell at CI.
Instonians have yet to make a decision about their professional about 2011. Davy Jacobs has scored heavily on the South African emerging players tour of Australia after leaving Shaw’s Bridge early, and his international commitments could yet rule out a return next year.
No significant change is expected at Lisburn, who will bring Sri Lankan Yasas Tillakaratne back to Wallace Park next year and hope to have the finance to retain Zimbabwean Ryan Ervine.
Carrickfergus are in talks to bring back Ross Gelderbloem for a third season while New Zealand batsman Michael Taiaroa is expected to return for a second campaign. Captain Ryan Eagleson is set to stand down after 10 years at the helm.