CIYMS remain cup kings
Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
CIYMS remain the cup kings in the NCU as they won the Gallagher Challenge Cup for the fourth time in six years with an emphatic 127 runs victory over North Down.
They also became the first team to dismiss North Down opener Aniruddha Chore in the competition and if there was any doubt about the result, then that wicket ended it.
At halfway, however, a total of 269, inflated by 12 penalty runs because of the hosts’ slow over-rate, looked a winning one, such is the strength of the CIYMS bowling attack. In the end, James Cameron-Dow and Trevor Britton were not even required as Mark Adair ripped through the tail to finish with four wickets, Nigel Jones and Graham Kennedy each picked up two, the latter in an impressive spell of slow left arm bowling.
It was Jacob Mulder, however, who got the prize scalp of Chore, caught at cover, the first bowler to get his wicket since Pavan Karthik for Woodvale back on July 10.
There was always something in the excellent Comber wicket for the bowlers which probably explains why Chore still finished as the game’s top scorer with just 54 and despite CI posting the second highest first innings total since the final permanently went to a one-innings match in 2007, captain Jones was the only one to reach 50.
Jones’ all-round performance was enough to win him his third man of the match award – his first was back in 2008 as a Civil Service North player - equalling Andrew White’s record tally. And although now 39-years-old there is no sign of, or reason for, him stopping anytime soon.
He continues to lead by example with the ball, his persistent back of length bowling constantly giving the batsmen problems and having been a top order batsman for many years, he has taken up the role of finisher in this team and he is consistently doing that as well.
Coming to the middle yesterday at 126 for four with 19 overs left, he hit 51 from 50 balls with four fours and three sixes and although he was out immediately after reaching the landmark, CI still scored 35 off the last 20 balls with Mulder hitting three fours and a six while Allen Coulter also cleared the boundary with the final ball of the innings.
The backbone of the innings was provided by another batsman excelling in his new role, James Cameron-Dow at No 3 scored 43 from 77 balls although he was enjoyed two lives in successive overs, the first the most unusual case of an umpire reversing his decision after a batsman's appeal!
He was given out stumped, an apparently straightforward decision when wicket-keeper Chore took off the bails with Cameron-Dow well out of his ground. But it was the delivery after a no-ball so JCD was quick to point out to the umpire that it was a free hit and you cannot be given out stumped from a free-hit.
Having survived that, he then gave a chance, on 17, to long-leg but that catch was spilled as well and he was able to frustrate the North Down attack for another seven overs, his rearguard mode having been transformed into an attacking one at the drinks interval.
At halfway, North Down captain Alistair Shields thought they were still in the game but the extra 12 runs for being two overs short of the required over rate certainly exaggerated their task.
It was made even harder by the self-inflicted first wicket in the fifth over when Shields set off for a single into the covers but was sent back by his partner and John Matchett’s throw to David Miller left the skipper out of his ground.
Two wickets in two balls in Jones’ third over piled the pressure on the home side and when Kennedy did the same, to remove Stuart Nelson and the experienced Ryan Haire, North Down were 94 for five and again relying on Chore.
He brought up his seventh consecutive 50+ score in the 25th over but four overs later his phenomenal undefeated run came to an end, 532 runs after it started.
Everyone, including the most loyal North Down supporter knew that settled the contest and CI’s sequence of cup final triumphs is becoming just as impressive.