Hoping to end season on a high?
THE 2015 season will hope to work its way up to a climax over the next week, but this dampest of summers has been a bit of a damp squib.
Full of hope after an excellent World Cup, and with a brand new coach to boot, it was a traditional enemy which ruined the party.
Both the prestige ODIs were ruined by rain, and leading players complained that the soft Irish pitches on which they were raised were the main reason the batsmen underperformed at the World Twenty20 qualifier.
Last week at Stormont there was a short period when Steve Smith must have feared that his first game as official Australian captain was going to go badly wrong.
They may even have been getting ready the Aussie equivalent of the Graham Taylor turnip front page when the Irish lower order fell apart and handed them back the win.
But overall it was a heartening performance by an Irish side that played some very good cricket against the ODI world champions.
Heading into a winter when they go toe-to-toe with the team that will be their most significant rival in the next few years, Zimbabwe, there is much to hearten in the continuing brilliance of Ed Joyce, Niall O’Brien and Tim Murtagh.
More importantly, the likes of Andy McBrine showed why he has usurped George Dockrell and Stuart Thompson hinted at why successive coaches have persevered with him.
This weekend is the highlight of the club summer when Waringstown host Merrion in the Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup final.
The Dublin side are making their fourth appearance in the last six finals, but only won the first, against Railway Union, back in 2010.
It has been a tough run for them this time, beating CIYMS, YMCA, North County and CSNI on the way, while Waringstown had the easier route of St Johnston, Co Galway, Clontarf and Pembroke.
There has been much muttering this week – but not much from Merrion, to be fair – at what is widely seen as sharp practice by Waringstown.
Professional Ruan Pretorious, who made 112 against Pembroke in the semi-final, has been called back to South Africa by his state side.
But Waringstown have signed up Jean de Villiers, a gun pro with Northerns and Titans in South Africa. He spent this summer in the Lancashire League where he scored 835 runs and took 65 wickets.
Cricket Ireland competition rules permit any player registered with the provincial unions, but NCU regulations say a player such as de Villiers must be registered by May 15th.
There is an exception to this, but it doesn’t seem to cover Pretorious’s case:
“The Registrations Committee may allow a replacement player to be registered on a later date where it is satisfied that the player originally registered has become unavailable as a result of serious injury or international selection by his home country.”
Another version of the NCU regs state that “state or provincial selection” can also be considered but it isn’t clear which version takes precedence.
Former Ireland spinner Matt Dwyer told CricketEurope: “Allowing a player to be registered so late in the year sends out the wrong message and I would say that no matter which club was looking to do it.”
Merrion will hope to win the Bob Kerr Cup on the field, but they may yet win it in the committee rooms.
Today: Hanley Energy IPC: North-West Warriors v Leinster Lightning, Bready
Saturday: Irish Senior Cup final: Waringstown v Merrion, The Lawn, 11:30; Irish National Cup final: Drummond v Rush, Bready
Sunday: Leinster Div1: Railway Union v Merrion, Clontarf v North County, Pembroke v Cork Co, Malahide v YMCA; Div2: Rush v Leinster, Hills v Phoenix, YMCA2 v Balbriggan