Waringstown will welcome Irish international James McCollum back for their double-header this weekend.
The Villagers host Lisburn in the Robinson Services Cup (12pm) tomorrow before Sunday’s LVS Twenty20 Cup semi-final against North Down (2pm), also at The Lawn.
McCollum has spent the last few weeks at the bio-secure Ageas Bowl in Southampton where he was part of a 22-man squad selected for a three-game series against England.
The 25-year-old wasn’t involved in any of the fixtures with selectors instead opting for Gareth Delany to partner Paul Stirling at the top of the order.
Due to a mix of international commitments and injury, McCollum was only able to make six appearances for his club in all competitions last season but underlined his class by scoring 140 from 108 balls in the Premier League against CSNI.
He should now get a run of club fixtures with no Ireland games on the calendar for the immediate future and all Inter-Provincial cricket taking place during the week.
Captain Lee Nelson is delighted to have McCollum back and says it will be a massive boost.
“It’s massive,” he said.
“It gives us that bit more depth to the order and obviously his record and ability speaks for itself so it’s great to have him back.”
McCollum will be coming up against Ireland team-mates Stirling and Craig Young on Sunday in what will be a hotly contested cup clash.
It will be Stirling’s debut for his new club and Nelson says they will have to take any chance that he offers up.
“You can’t ignore the fact he is playing!” he added.
“We are going to have to try and attempt to at least come up with something.
“He has that much ability that I don’t think anyone can sit down and have a specific game-plan for anyone like that.
“We have to make sure we bowl our best balls and field to the best of our capabilities, and if we do get an opportunity we have to take it.”
One man that could be crucial early on is James Mitchell, who took 4-15 in a comfortable victory over Woodvale last Saturday.
The 23-year-old has started the season in fine form and bowled an impeccable final over in Waringstown’s Robinson Services Cup victory over North Down a couple of weeks ago.
“He seems to be getting fitter and stronger and that seems to be helping him,” said Nelson.
“Every year he seems to add an extra yard of pace and I think he has done that.
“He’s just getting a bit older and wiser. He’s doing really well and we have no complaints.”
Waringstown have an exceptional record in the competition and beat Sunday’s opposition in the 2017 and 2018 finals.
They’ve reached the final in every season since 2015 but Nelson knows to maintain that record they’ll have to perform somewhere near their best.
“North Down vs Waringstown games for me are still the biggest of the whole lot,” he added.
“The rivalry from down the years and I’m sure they would say the same that it’s the biggest game.
“There’s never a whole lot in them, especially in T20 cricket, so it certainly builds for an exciting game.
“I would imagine there’ll be a decent crowd in.
“We have always had a good record in this competition and realistically at home, it can be difficult for sides to come and win at The Lawn.
“We want to make sure that we make ourselves as difficult to beat as possible.
“We know they are a very good team with exceptional players in it, but we have to make sure that we make it difficult.”