Britton injury can't mar North victory over South
Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
ANDY Britton has been ruled out of Ireland’s four-day game against South Africa at Coleraine with a suspected stress fracture of his foot. No replacement has been called in and Ireland will select from 12, with Gary Wilson released by Surrey to play, when the match finally gets under way. The first day’s play was lost to rain.
Britton, the Limavady pace bowler, may have been playing with the injury for the last fortnight, including at Oak Hill last week, when he made his return to the Ireland side, after an absence of three years. He sat out yesterday’s inter-provincial but was not missed, North completing a comprehensive seven wickets victory to square the two-match series.
It needed only a cursory glance at the yesterday’s line-ups to reveal that South would struggle to follow up their success at The Lawn three weeks ago. They made no fewer than six changes to the team that romped to a 98 runs victory in the first inter-provincial for seven years with this week’s international the main priority.
So Alex Cusack did not even turn up at the ground, Max Sorensen did but was not included in the final 11 and missing from the game at Waringstown were John Mooney and Tim Murtagh. The inexperienced and, as a result, much weaker bowling line-up could put up only minimal resistance as North reached their victory target of 238 with 19 balls and seven wickets to spare.
The immovable object, yet again, was Ireland’s newest international James Shannon, rewarded for being in the form of his life and, for the moment, he shows no sign of slowing down.
After finishing 99 not out in the NCU cup final two weeks ago, he has scored 60 and 58 against North Down, 59 on his Ireland debut and yesterday made it five half centuries in a row with an undefeated 95, finishing the game with his fourth six, to add to eight other boundaries. He faced just 91 balls.
At the other end, keeping him company for the final 131 runs, was Lee Nelson who reached his own 50 off just 42 balls with four fours and a six as Albert van der Merwe, second in experience only to skipper Kevin O’Brien in the South team, bearing the brunt of the pain.
South gave senior debuts to opening bowler Tomas Murphy and all-rounder Joe Carroll while former Under-19 international Eddie Richardson shared the new ball as O’Brien held himself back till almost halfway.
By that stage, North had laid their platform for Shannon’s late charge with Chris Dougherty and Nigel Jones putting on 50 for the first wicket, the former the more convincing but, again, he was frustratingly out just before his own half century, leg before to an O’Brien yorker.
Pick of the NCU bowlers was Gary Kidd who is enjoying a renaissance of his own. The slow left armer hasn’t played for Ireland since April 2010 but for both Waringstown and at representative level he is showing a welcome return to form. He was brought on for his second spell in the middle of the batting powerplay and with the last ball of his second over, bowled Andrew Poynter, immdediately after the Clontarf international had brought up his 50.
Kidd followed up with the wicket of Poynter junior and had figures of two for 14 in his final six overs. The one batsmen he couldn’t get out was O’Brien who finally got back among the runs and missed out on a deserved century by just one run, holing out to the Nelson on the point boundary after hitting seven fours and two sixes from 103 balls.
Let’s hope he is saving that century for Coleraine this week - if he gets the chance!