Lee Nelson hails impact of Andre Malan
Johnny Morton (News Letter)
The Premier League returned with a bang on Saturday as over 2,000 runs were scored across four matches and three players registered centuries.
One of those magnificent hundreds came at The Lawn as Andre Malan (110*) helped Waringstown reach 309/5 from their 50 overs before recording a 47-run victory over Instonians.
Malan was a standout performer in his two seasons at CSNI where he scored 2,178 runs and he has picked up where he left off at his new club by immediately hitting the ground running.
The 29-year-old also collected figures of 3-49 from 8.5 overs and captain Lee Nelson has been understandably delighted with the early contributions of his overseas professional.
“You know what you’re getting with him,” he said.
“He performs week in, week out and the signing of him and Graham (Hume) has added a lot more steel to our middle order. Over the longer format that is going to be crucial.
“I think it’s always a benefit when the professional has played over here before.
“He knows the grounds and bowlers so that makes it easier for him to settle in.”
Although Malan was star of the show, he was well supported by Adam Dennison (78) and Nelson (45) who put on 79 for the first wicket, setting the platform for the likes of Malan and Greg Thompson (20) to attack late on.
Dennison topped the NCU run charts in 2018 when he amassed 1,335 at an average of 51.35 and the return to a longer format has allowed him to produce his best once again.
Still only 24, Dennison has been opening the batting successfully for Waringstown for so long that you can often forget just how young he is.
He struggled for form in this season’s Twenty20 Cup but Nelson is confident the batsman is going to have a big say for the remainder of the campaign.
“Form is temporary and class is permanent, and he has scored an awful lot of runs for somebody so young,” he added.
“It happens to all players and it was only a matter of time before he was back in the runs and it’s great to see.”
North West Warriors all-rounder Graham Hume – who shared the new ball with Malan – picked up two wickets late in the Instonians innings to end his afternoon with figures of 2-29 from seven overs.
The South African signed for Waringstown from Coleraine during the off-season and as Nelson explains, he has added a further cutting edge to their bowling attack.
“He has been brilliant,” he said. “We couldn’t have asked for anything more from him – he has been brilliant to have around the place.
“It gives us a totally different dimension having him open the bowling and coming in the middle order.
“Not having Gary Kidd makes our bowling a little bit different to what it has been in previous years.
“We are perhaps more seam reliant this year than we have been in the past 10/15 years, so it has been important.
“It’s going to be a tough year because the league is as strong as I can remember. Every team is going to be difficult to beat.”
One of the most encouraging aspects of the victory for Nelson will be that they were able to score in excess of 300 even without Irish international James McCollum, who sat out due to injury.
They’ve an extremely dangerous batting order that gives Nelson a multitude of options but it’s also important to the captain that he continues giving the next generation their opportunity.
“I do think we have a lot of depth there and the young players coming through are putting their hand up,” he said.
“Michael Waite came in yesterday and fielded brilliantly and bowled a couple of overs.
“We have four or five players in the second XI that we will look to rotate this year because it’s important for Waringstown to bring through their young players and we will look to do that over the course of the season.
“You don’t want anybody to be complacent at any position in the order.
“If you want to bat in the top four or five you have to be performing and scoring runs.
“The competitiveness for places and for positions is high and that benefits people because you get more out of them.”
After a tough Twenty20 campaign in which they finished seventh, Nelson is looking forward and will be hoping they can challenge yet again at the top.
“It was important (the win) for the morale of everybody,” he added.
“The Twenty20 was a bit of a struggle for us with a couple of washouts and a couple of games where we didn’t perform as well as we could have.
“We have always been a better 50-over team anyway and with the arrival of Andre it’s no coincidence that his performances have led to wins as soon as he came in.
“We look a far stronger team with him in it and have much more depth.”