Respect. Community. Karma. Solid foundations. Progress.

These were the words going around in my head as I drove to Bready for their clash with Newbuildings. I just knew it was going to be a good game. I felt it in my bones.

I almost bounced out the door despite the dank, grey day. It’s been a strange few years, and almost inadvertently the North West has hit on a winning formula.

I’ve fallen in love with T20 having been at best lukewarm to the format in years gone by. Coloured clothing, over by 5 o’clock, exciting games and the evenings my own if only there was anywhere to go.

Bready entrance

The clubs seem happy. There’s genuine hope. I’ve been cynical at times, worrying about the future of the game in these parts. Clubs folding, numbers dwindling, standards in decline. But one of the unseen consequences of the pandemic is the opportunity for the clubs – with support from the Union to reset and re-engage. There’s honesty that there is much work to do, but there a wonderful chance to do so as people re-evaulate their lives.

During the past year one of the feel-good stories was the ‘Cricketing Cooks’ at Bready. It did your heart good to see the meals being distributed to the elderly and vulnerable in the Bready area.

I have never been much into religion. A failed Christian I suppose. But with my wife a Buddhist I bought into the concept of Karma and Giving Merit. Good things happen to good people and I just sense this could be the way with Bready. Two wins, two last over finishes.

Bob Rankin in his jeep

I’ve always been an admirer of the way the club go about things on and off the field. Solid foundations. No quick fixes. Doing things the right way. Respect for their elders. Adding, developing, growing. The newest addition, a three-lane practice area.

It's no fluke that they field four men's teams, a women's team, and youth teams at all levels.

I played against Bready teams a lot, and you always knew you were in for a tough battle. If you won, you deserved it. No gimmees. Their successful formula in the Intermediate leagues was a mixture of talented youth but with a spine of hardened experience, who would guide the youngsters firmly but fairly through their cricketing education.

I still chuckle when I think of Bob Rankin and Ernie O’Neill in the top field on one of those bitterly cold, windy days. We had been stealing singles – had to have been Dessie Brolly – and Bob wasn’t amused. He had seen enough. “Right, all jumpers in the jeep!” The youngsters had to remove the fleecy tops in less than optimal conditions. It worked. They were certainly more active in the field. Lesson learned.

That formula continues with players of the quality, calibre and experience of Geoffrey McConnell, Mark Olphert, the Allens, Trevor Hamilton and others playing an invaluable role in the club’s future.

Steve Lazars and Davy Scanlon

This week the thread running through matches has been for me second chances and comebacks. It started with the incredible Wolves knock of Shane Getkate who hit 8 sixes in his 74 from just 40 balls. Shane had been ‘dead’ for five minutes back in 2011 when his heart stopped three times while playing in an Under 19 game in England.

I always think of him as ‘Lazarus’ Getkate, and it was coincidental that Steve Lazars was to play such a pivotal role on Saturday. I just sensed he would. That’s why I took a photo of him and Davy Scanlon before the game. It wouldn’t be the last I took as the pair produced a match winning partnership to deny Newbuildings.

I’d in my head a move theme where I was thinking of Newbuildings as Clubber Lang/Mr T in the Rocky movies. Lean, mean, hungry for success. I didn’t quite think it was right as the club, now in their 10th year, look to upset the establishment. Then, bang, a lightbulb moment. Newbuildings, ‘The Afghanistan of the North West’. I liked it.

They aren’t far away from being a real force. One quality all-rounder. I suppose you could say that about nearly all North West sides.

Wicket for Ian Young

Back to Bready, and the comeback theme continued, because as well as Lazars, Ian Young was the stand-out bowler. A brother of Craig, ‘Chinky’ suffered a horrific injury, almost losing his leg, a few years ago and it’s been a long road back. Great to see and it gladdens the heart to see him doing so well.

Champagne moment was Davy Scanlon’s reverse swept six a la Kevin Pietersen. Don’t think I’ve seen one go for six in these parts. I laughed. Two thoughts. First was feeling sorry for his team mates who would have to listen to him about it for the next few weeks. Secondly, was what would have happened if I had tried it. Toss-up between playing the ball onto my face, or getting bowled.

I can still hear a West Indian fan in Barbados howls of laughter as I tried to work out how to play Sulieman Benn. “Hey man. You batting in roller skates or boots?” Thankfully my ordeal didn’t last too long.

At Burndennett, Aidan Logue was in the runs. Another good news story. Young Aidan underwent heart surgery last year, and the talented left-hander, son of former Irish international Julie, is obviously in fine fettle.

Julie and Aidan Logue

Innings of the day was a battle between two former Irish youth internationals for the honour. William McClintock, energised by the change of coach at the Warriors, hit eight sixes to lead Donemana to victory. I do hope he is a success for the NW. The Warriors need a strong Donemana.

At Burndennett, another former Irish youth international went one better. Stevie Moore hit nine sixes as Glendermott beat Burndennett. He joined the Rectory side after Drummond folded.

It was the good news story of the week as Drummond began again the journey back into cricket. It’s a remarkable effort, the result of a lot of hard work by a lot of people, Jason Scott and Davy Scanlon among them. Karma again.

Good things happen to good people.