Jeremy Bray's 82 ensures 19 runs win for CIYMS over CSN
Alistair Bushe (News Letter)
For a team touted by many as the NCU Premier League champions in waiting, it wasn’t quite the eye-catching display CIYMS might have wanted at Stormont on Saturday.
But opening days of the season aren’t usually a time for show-boating and the most important thing about the 19-run victory over Civil Service North was the four points to get the new-look Belmont side off the mark.
To be fair to CI, they had the worst of the conditions after they were inserted in helpful bowling conditions by Nigel Jones, the CSN captain, in a game starting at 11am to enable both players and supporters to watch the Heineken Cup semi-final.
Initially, it looked to be going horribly wrong for CI. Chris Dougherty fell for just a single on his NCU debut and the returning Barry Cooper saw his stumps rearranged by Jones. When Taimur Khan became John Costain’s second wicket, CI were 26 for three and apparently deep in the mire.
But the innings, and on reflection the entire match, hinged on the 84-run stand between Jeremy Bray and Ryan Butterworth for the fourth wicket. It was a no frills particular, as Bray in particular reined in his natural attacking inclinations on a pitch that was never easy to bat on at any stage in the day.
Butterworth, who struck two sixes in 35 from 66 balls, was eventually one of three wickets for Alistair Graham (3-47), and when CI slumped to 126 for six, there was a real danger they could be dismissed for under 150.
Bray however, was the glue that held the innings together. He reached 50 in 99 balls before eventually being bowled by Graham for 82 from 127 balls after striking seven fours and two sixes. A total of 180 for nine was probably slightly above par.
CSN were without South African professional Griffin Neiwouldt, who is still waiting on the processing of his visa application, but they had CI worried as a first-wicket stand realised 52 runs.
Stephen McChesney, the left-arm spinner, removed the dangerous Regan West, on his way to taking three for 24, as a spirited CSN lower order came up 19 runs short as they needed 10 runs per over in the closing stages.
So CI have passed their first test. But we will know a great day more about their title credentials after next week’s Premier League game against Instonians at Shaw’s Bridge.