Ruhan Pretorius has been in fine form for high-flying North Down this season and he is hoping to carry that into the Inter-Provincial Series with the Northern Knights.
The T20 Trophy gets underway tomorrow for the Knights, who are defending champions, when they travel to Bready to face the North West Warriors (1:30pm start).
Pretorius has scored 195 runs in seven innings so far at club level, helping the Comber side to a second-placed spot in the Robinson Services Cup and a LVS Twenty20 Cup final against CIYMS on Sunday.
The 29-year-old is one of many talented all-rounder options in the Knights squad, with the likes of Shane Getkate and Mark Adair also included, and Pretorius, who has collected 10 wickets this season, could also have an important role to play with the ball.
“I’m feeling confident,” he said ahead of the series.
“I’ve had a couple of scores and as everyone would say, I’m looking for time in the middle.
“I read the article with Princer (James McCollum) and I would 100% agree with what he said in terms of at this time of the season you’ve usually played more than 25 games and now you’re just searching for time in the middle.
“Even though I’m hitting it pretty well and you can hit it as well as you want to in the nets, you’re looking for the time in the middle.”
Pretorius’ runs have come at an uncharacteristic strike rate of 86.3 but his average of 39 is very healthy and he has helped the team to six wins from seven games in all competitions.
He is looking to speed up his innings and feels he could be in a better spot now after hitting 58* against CSNI last weekend.
“I’ve been getting starts which is good and getting myself in with the odd 20 or 30 and then a few fifties that I’ve had.
“It’s been good in the sense that I’m getting myself in and now it’s just about getting a better strike rate because I have been eating up balls.
“I will be the first person to say that I have been batting really slowly and in some sort of way I think it can put other guys under pressure.
“At some stages it has been me trying to bat quickly but because of the lack of cricket and first time not having cricket for the whole year, I’ve been playing catch up.
“I was saying to Johnty that even when I’m in the middle and trying to score, I’m hitting the ball straight to fielders or missing the ball that I’m used to hitting.
“I have spent a few innings batting through and at the weekend I got more time in the middle, so hopefully that has got me back on track and where I want to be.”
He has been opening the batting with Ireland international Paul Stirling for the last two games, with the pair putting on a stand of 71 at Stormont on Saturday.
Stirling will play his only game for the Knights this season on Thursday and Pretorius has been able to enjoy the best seat in the house for his 76 runs from 44 deliveries across two games.
“It’s been entertaining.
“It’s amazing to stand at the other end and watch one of the best Twenty20 players in the world.
“You have a front row seat so it has been cool to watch him play. You can also ask him any question and he will try to help and give advice where he can.”
The pair will walk out together in the final against defending champions CIYMS at The Lawn on Sunday in what promises to be a thrilling encounter.
The clubs play each other twice in as many days with a league fixture on Saturday and Pretorius is looking forward to the challenge.
“We have got ourselves into a final on Sunday against a team that deserve to be there because they are a team that wins trophies and that can be hard to do.
“We will have to be at our best even though we have the likes of Stirlo and Youngy.
“They also have guys that can win games for them so it’ll definitely be a good game.
“Hopefully the weather goes in our favour and we get a full game in.
“We have cricketers who have been hitting the ball as well as I’ve ever seen them like Ally (Shields), Ryan Haire, Peter Eakin – the boys are really hitting it well.
“Carl Robinson has been in super form with the ball and Youngy too. We can also mix it up with the likes of myself, Peter Eakin and Peter Davison.
“We have a good bowling attack and it’s about switching ourselves on.”
His immediate attention will be on Thursday’s game against the Warriors in what is just his third for the Knights.
Pretorius has played in 62 First Class matches where he has hit 2610 runs and taken 157 wickets so his big-game experience could prove crucial.
He qualifies as a local player at the end of next year so every game up to that point will be a chance to impress Ireland’s selectors, but the team result is more important to him than any personal goals.
“Even when I play for my club, I’m trying to play to the highest potential that I can.
“I think when I stop doing that it’ll be the time to give up cricket. Every time I step over the line is an opportunity to go and show the talent that has been given to me.
“ I would love for the T20 and 50-over series to go as well as possible but if I can win games for the Knights wherever I bat or bowl, that’ll show my performances.
“It’s more about winning games for me than doing well myself.”