Ireland inspire new T20 sponsor
Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
THE Northern Cricket Union have a new sponsor for their Twenty20 competitions and the chief backer admits it was Ireland’s success at the recent World Twenty20 Qualifying tournament which made up his mind to put his money into the local game.
Lagan Valley Steels will sponsor the T20 Cup, Trophy and Shield for the next three years and Tommy Anderson, the company’s chief executive, who just happens to be the Waringstown club president, is looking forward to seeing some of Ireland’s World Cup heroes bring their skills to the competition.
“I have always been excited by the 20-over game and Ireland’s qualification in Dubai has given it a terrific boost, said Mr Anderson, a former chairman of Lisburn Distillery FC.
“I’m delighted Lagan Valley Steels is able to support local cricket. The game has made remarkable strides in recent years and I have no doubt it will go from strength to strength.”
Three of the victorious Ireland squad, Andrew White and Rory McCann of Instonians and Nigel Jones of Civil Service North, will be in direct opposition in the opening round of matches on Bank Holiday Monday May 7 when the team meet at Shaw’s Bridge. The other Group A game is between holders North Down and CIYMS.
The eight Premier League teams have been divided into two groups with the top two in each section going through to the semi finals. The opening day games in Group B are Carrickfergus v Waringstown and Lisburn v Ballymena.
Lagan Valley Steels will also sponsor the T20 Trophy for the eight Section One teams and the T20 Shield for the next 14 teams.
Meanwhile, Paul Stirling’s storming finish to the qualifying tournament in Dubai has sent him soaring into the top 40 in the T20 world rankings. The Ireland opening batsman finished as the highest runs scorer after his match-winning 79 in the final. Captain William Porterfield is also in the world’s top 50 at No 44.
Trent Johnston’s heroics with the ball has moved him up seven places to 15th in the world, above Pakistan’s Umur Gul while George Dockrell (24th) and Boyd Rankin (28th) are also in the top 30.
Ireland are eighth in the Twenty20 Championship table which, if the placings remain unchanged by the time of the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka in September, will send Ireland into their group game against West Indies (in 9th) as favourites.