Ian Callender (Sunday Life)
A MEMORABLE innings by Civil Service North captain Gary Wilson maintained his side’s unbeaten start to the season and sends them into today’s Lagan Valley Steels T20 Cup final at the Lawn (2pm) as favourites.
Their opponents will be Carrickfergus who won a rain-interrupted match against Lisburn by eight runs with South African professional Jacques Synman taking three wickets in the last over to halt Lisburn’s late charge.
But it was former Ireland T20 captain Wilson who played the innings of the day and will be still be remembered when the innings of the season is talked about as CSN, who needed 104 from the last eight overs to knock out holders CIYMS, did it with an over to spare.
Wilson scored 89 of the runs from 30 balls, to finish 108 not out with nine fours and seven sixes as the star-studded CI attack didn’t know what hit them.
Skipper Nigel Jones, a former international team-mate of Wilson, had conceded just 10 runs in three overs with the new ball but when he returned to bowl his last over, with CSN still needing 37 from three overs, it disappeared for 24, with Wilson thumping three sixes and a four.
It was all over six balls later with Wilson, finishing the match with another maximum – what else? – to the scoreboard which could scarcely keep up with the scoring rate.
It was effectively a one-man show for those last eight overs after Paddy Beverland had followed Ross Adair, Stuart Thompson and Luke Georgeson back to the pavilion and at 66 for four after 12 overs in reply to CIYMS’ 169 for five, it looked game over.
Jones must have thought so, especially after his innings of 40 not out from 18 balls – a marginally better strike rate than Wilson! – had again virtually single-handedly has helped the visitors to score 44 from the last four overs.
Chris Dougherty was CI’s top scorer with 60 from a respectable 42 balls and Matthew Foster was CSN’s most successful bowler but everything that happened in the first 32 overs was totally overshadowed by Wilson’s innings,
Fittingly, the top two after the group stages will contest today’s final although it wasn’t straightforward for Carrickfergus either even after Jeremy Lawlor’s 78 from 45 balls in his side’s total of 173 for four.
Lisburn were happy with their first seven overs, reaching 51 for one in reply, but then the rain arrived and when the game resumed they had the stiff target of scoring another 75 from 40 balls. But here too, the captain led from the front and Adam Berry kept his side on course and when 19 came off the 13th and penultimate over, Lisburn needed just 15 to win.
But Carrick skipper Michael Gilmour had held back his professional to bowl the last over and after removing Boyd Rankin with his first ball he followed up with the wicket of Berry with his third and next ball Mark Berry was also caught as the innings folded quietly.
It gives Carrick the chance to finally win the T20 Cup, 16 years after the Eagles were beaten finalists in the very first edition.