Sutherland stars for North Down
Alistair Bushe (News Letter)
If anyone had written off North Down after a pre-season that went far from smoothly, they will almost certainly be having second thoughts after events at The Green on Saturday.
The reigning Ulster Bank NCU Premier League champions underlined that they are not going to give up their title easily as they started the season with a 161-run thrashing of Carrickfergus. With all the talk about Taimur Khan’s departure, the injury to Alistair Shields and the withdrawal of professional Anwar Ali, the return to fitness of Andrew Sutherland has largely gone under the radar.
The Australian-born left-hander missed the majority of last season with a badly broken finger, but announced his return with a remarkable century in an imposing total of 320 for six. Sutherland was the junior partner as Neil Russell struck 57 from only 52 balls, including five fours and two sixes, in an opening stand of 71, and he later shared century partnerships with Ryan Haire (39) and captain Peter Shields (28) as the entire Carrick attack took a battering.
Sutherland pushed his foot firmly on the accelerator the longer he was at the crease. His first 50 came from 83 balls and he brought up his century in 124, before his last 40 runs came in just 19 deliveries. He finished with 140 from 143 balls, including 14 fours and five sixes.
Much has been written about North Down’s supposed lack of seam bowling potency but Gavin McKenna (2-10) and David Kennedy (3-24) ridiculed that particular theory as they ran through the Carrick top order, as the visitors slumped to six for four.
The only semblance of resistance came from Ryan Eagleson (28) and impressive teenager Alex Haggan (54) and with off-spinner Marty Moreland (3-36) starting the season in familiar wicket-taking fashion, Carrick were dismissed for just 159 in the 45th over.
Meanwhile last season’s runners-up Waringstown eased to an 85-run victory over Lisburn in a low-scoring game at Wallace Park.
Batting first, the villagers were comfortably placed on 85 for two, but once Lee Nelson departed for 43 from 58 balls, it heralded the start of a slump with Nathan Waller (2-23), Neal McDowell (3-48) and Carl Williams (2-23) turning the innings on its end.
Glen Addicott, Waringstown’s South African professional, dug in with 40 from 51 balls before he was ninth man out in a modest-looking 162 all out.
Lisburn were rarely in the hunt in reply. Nelson (2-11) struck twice early on and Addicott (2-22) made the decisive blow, having his opposite number Darryl Brown caught behind for a duck.
Civil Service North secured a tense two-wicket victory over Ballymena at Stormont. The visitors recovered from seven for three and 32 for four as Nigel Jones took four for 15 to post 166 all out. Kaushik Aphale top scored with 50 from 87 balls, his second successive half century, and William Montgomery made 42 from 84.
The CSN run chase was inspired by Charlie Beverland, who struck eight fours in a fine 61 from 84 balls while Andrew Cowden made a typically patient 29 from 80 deliveries. The nerves jangled as they lost three wickets for one run late on but Jones' side got home with 20 balls to spare.
Everyone in the union will wish CSN’s Colin Andrews a quick recovery after he broke his ankle in the field on Saturday.