Tag: Andre Malan

James Kennedy reflects on CSNI’s 2019 campaign

CSNI finished fourth in the Robinson Services Premier League in 2019, ending on 28 points after winning seven of their 14 league matches – four points and one league position better than 2018.

When it came to cup competitions, they played the eventual champions in both the Gallagher Challenge Cup and Irish Senior Cup and were more than competitive in both matches, losing by four wickets to CIYMS in the semi-final of the former and by three wickets to Pembroke in the quarter-final of the latter.

The Twenty20 Cup was a bit of a write off, finishing bottom of Group B after winning one of their six matches in a group that contained North Down, Instonians and Muckamore.

With a better league performance but without reaching a major final like they did last season, how does skipper James Kennedy reflect on the campaign?

“I’ve heard a lot of people comment that CSNI are the ultimate under achievers and you don’t know what you’re going to get, which I find is a strange label for us to get,” he said.

“We won seven and lost seven, were middle of the road and finished fourth. We arguably could have done better.

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Andre Malan celebrates one of his six half-centuries. ©CricketEurope

“We lost once against Waringstown, once against North Down and twice against CIYMS, which are four games you want to win and play as well as you can, but there was only one of those that we didn’t play at our full potential.

“Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose them, and we lost a bad one to Muckamore which we shouldn’t have done.

“We lost two games in September in the T20 format when we were playing our younger lads. It’s very easy to pull out of those matches but I think it’s important for the integrity of the league and sponsors that every game is played.

“It was a great opportunity for some of our young lads to perform despite losing. So we lost seven and won seven – hopefully we can improve on that next year.”

As previously mentioned, the Stormont side narrowly missed out on deeper progression in the two biggest cup competitions, and Kennedy believes his squad deserve more credit for those performances.

“Last year we had the Challenge Cup final and were very disappointed to lose in that,” he added when asked if he felt his men progressed from 2018.

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CSNI reached the Challenge Cup final in 2018, where they were beaten by Waringstown. ©CricketEurope

“This year, we lost a close game in the semi-final to eventual winners CIYMS, got to the Irish Cup quarter-final and lost a classic to Pembroke, who went on to win it, so you can look at the outcomes of both those matches and say we could have went on to win one of those two trophies, but we didn’t.

“We were a lot closer than we get credit for in those games. The big disappointment this season was that we relied so heavily on Andre (Malan) with bat and ball – he was sensational.

“Elly (Marc Ellison) batted well and Grum (Graeme McCarter) bowled well, but the rest of us, myself included, had a disappointing season with bat and ball.

“That’s something we want to develop more next year and hopefully we can help those guys that do perform.”

Overseas professional Andre Malan was again the best player in the NCU, scoring a region-high 1238 runs at an average of 65.16 and collected 41 wickets.

While it is unknown at this current time if the South African will return for a third campaign in Belfast, Kennedy is disappointed the rest of the squad couldn’t provide more support for Malan.

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Andre Malan batting in the Premier League against North Down

“Andre was fantastic,” he said.

“You are running out of superlatives to describe his form with bat and ball. It was just disappointing we didn’t step up to support him as much as we could have. He is a superb cricketer.

“He was brilliant and is a great guy to have around. Hopefully he can have a good season back home.”

Opening batsman Marc Ellison collected the Larry Warke Trophy for Batting at Saturday’s NCU annual dinner after scoring 699 runs in the Premier League at an average of 49.93.

The only player that could better that tally was team-mate Malan, so it is clear that the platform for success is there at CSNI.

“He had a good season but he will tell you he could have done better,” said Kennedy.

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Marc Ellison. ©CricketEurope

“He batted well and is a great player. There will be more runs in him again next year I have no doubt.

“Hopefully, outside of Andre and Elly, we can step up and add more runs and be more competitive.”

Ireland’s Twenty20 captain Gary Wilson was back at CSNI for the 2019 season after spending over a decade in England with Surrey and Derbyshire, and while his time with the club was limited due to international and Northern Knights commitments, his influence was still felt in the changing room.

“It was great having Gary back,” added Kennedy.

“He’s obviously a great player, is a great guy and it was great having him around, but looking at the schedules it appears we might not have him too much next year either.

“That’s just the nature of where local cricket is going. It’s already happening with the international players, but I reckon it isn’t too far away where the Inter-Provincial players aren’t available and it’s something we will have to get used to, accept it and play the best we can without them.”

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Gary Wilson spent his first season back in the NCU with CSNI. ©CricketEurope

CSNI have gave many young players a chance in the past few years, with Archie Johnston, Matty Foster and Morgan Topping all mainstays in the squad throughout the season.

More were handed opportunities towards the end of the season and throughout the 2019 campaign, and Kennedy believes that will stand the club in good stead going forward.

“We blooded a lot of young people this year,” he said.

“It’s tough coming into the Premier League but they really enjoyed it and they enjoyed being about the squad, and that’s half the battle.

“It’s a massive step up but as long as they can come off that pitch having enjoyed it and learned something from the older players.

“Those two T20’s against Carrick and Instonians in September were the perfect example of giving 13-15 year olds a chance to bat and bowl and they loved it.

“They excelled at what they did and hopefully that’ll be a good grounding for them.”

IN REVIEW: CSNI captain James Kennedy happy with 2018, but wants more consistency next year

CSNI captain James Kennedy is looking for his side to find more consistency in 2019.

The Stormont-based side reached the Challenge Cup final and Twenty20 Cup semi-final, but lost out on both occasions to Waringstown and North Down respectively.

They didn’t quite translate that form into the Premier League, and their poor start meant that it was decided pretty early on that they wouldn’t be challenging for the title.

A resurgence in the middle helped them move into third for a time, but they finished in 5th with a record of 6 wins, 7 losses and 1 no result from their 14 matches.

Here, Kennedy reflects on 2018, praises his star performers and sets out what he wants to achieve next year.

That’s another season over. How do you reflect on 2018?

There were a lot of positives that we can take into 2019. I’m very happy with how our Challenge Cup run went, but obviously disappointed we didn’t get over the line in the final. It’s been well-documented that we are just glad Grum (Graeme McCarter) managed to get through that game and get what was required. Hopefully we will have him fighting fit for next year which would help us as well.

In the league, we were slightly disappointed with the start we had. Throughout the course of the season, we lost four or five games that we probably should have won. Maybe we made bad choices at the time, or maybe some naivety.

I felt as the season went on that our younger players started to develop and learn, and hopefully they are in a better position going into next year.

You had Andre Malan in this year and he turned out to be one of the best players in the league. I’m sure you’re delighted with what you found in him?

Andre was brilliant. He wasn’t just brilliant on the pitch – that record speaks for itself. He did damage with the bat and ball, but he was just brilliant in the changing room. He was a great guy who got along with everyone, and we couldn’t have asked for more.

Hopefully he will be back next year as well, and will have an even better season than the one he has just had.

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Andre Malan

Marc Ellison also hit over 1000 runs. How important was he?

Elly is a superb player. We are running out of superlatives for him.

The argument can be that Elly and Andre did most of the work, and the rest of us need to step up and raise our game by another couple hundred runs. There was a bit of a tinkering period this year. We played around with the batting order to see who should go where.

We have learned a lot of things about a lot of people, and hopefully next year we will have something a bit more stable and will be able to support Elly and Andre much more.

The likes of Morgan Topping and Matthew Foster had good seasons. Are you expecting your array of young players will be even better with more experience?

Andre and Elly are the two guys that everyone will come away talking about because of the seasons they had, but our young guys developed so well.

Matty Foster and Archie (Johnston) were in the team for the whole season, and Matty in particular had a fantastic season. He could have bowled his 10 overs every week if it wasn’t for the ECB rule that he can only have seven at the start. He had a super season.

Archie made the gloves his own and hit a nice 50 against Instonians. The guys that came in like Morgan and Arny batted very well, and will hopefully push on next season now that they have more experience in the Premier League.

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Foster bowling against Carrickfergus

Looking to 2019, what are the goals?

CSNI for years have been known as a cup team, and we are a dangerous proposition for anyone on our day, but it’s just trying to find that consistency and get away from the tag that we are a cup team.

I believe that we can be more than that. We just have to raise our games for every single game, rather than the cup games that we have a good record in. It would be great if we can take that into the league and see if we can push up a bit.

There were a few games that we definitely should have won but lost, and that would have put us in a higher standing in the league if we got over the line. We are looking to win those silly games that we lost, and we will be a lot higher in the league.

JM Sport NCU 2018 End of Season Awards

2018 was another fantastic cricket season in the NCU, and it’s now time to hand out some awards.

Waringstown won another four trophies, while CIYMS picked up their first Premier League title since 2012.

Lisburn also had a fantastic season, sealing their return to the top flight at the first time of asking, and Templepatrick won 14 matches in a row to win Section Two.

Here, Johnny Morton picks winners from a variety of categories.

NCU Player of the Year.

I have to go with Adam Dennison.

The 21-year-old scored 1335 runs at an average of over 50 and a strike-rate of almost 100 in what has been a summer for batsmen to cash in on good wickets.

He hit four centuries (only Andre Malan had as many in the top flight), and the partnership he formed with James Hall was extraordinary.

Notable mentions: Allen Coulter, James Hall, Ruhan Pretorious, Andre Malan, Marc Ellison

Innings of the Year

Going on the batting that I personally witnessed this season, it has to go to Dennison.

His 145* to see Waringstown home in the Challenge Cup final was something else, with the score coming from 130 balls and including 12 fours and seven sixes.

Marc Ellison’s 139* on the same day deserves a mention, as does Andre Malan’s 140* against North Down and Michael Gilmour’s 135* on The Mall against Armagh.

Other notable mentions: Shadley van Schalkwyk (142 vs Muckamore), Chris Dougherty (122 vs North County)

Bowling spell of the Year

 My bowling spell of the year turned out to be in the second match I covered all season, and it goes to Lisburn’s Mark Berry.

With Derriaghy cruising towards victory in the Challenge Cup first round, Berry returned to pick up three quick wickets to help bring Derriaghy from 125-1 to 144-8 in a chase of 172.

It was the tightest match I think I actually watched all year, and Berry’s 4-33 almost snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

Notable mentions: Allen Coulter (vs CSNI, first spell vs Waringstown) Andre Malan (vs North Down).

Overseas professional of the Year

This answer was easy up until about a month ago, but I am still going to opt for CSNI’s Andre Malan.

Ruhan Pretorious has shot up the run charts in recent weeks with consecutive centuries, including 188 against Armagh, but Malan’s consistency and quality can’t be overlooked.

In his debut season in the NCU, Malan scored 940 runs (4 centuries and 4 fifties) at an average of 47, and was leading the wicket-taking chart with 43 before he left prior to the conclusion of the season, which is magnificent considering it has been a glorious summer with most wickets hard as the road.

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Andre Malan

Notable mention: Shaheen Khan

Captain of the Year

Waringstown’s Greg Thompson made some brave calls this year, and one that sticks out most is bowling first in the Challenge Cup final.

Most of the ground would have batted first, but choosing to bowl and winning the trophy shows he is a superb captain and has great judgement in pressurising situations.

He led his side to yet another Irish Senior Cup crown, plus two Twenty20 trophies in what was a superb campaign for the Villagers.

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Thompson with the Twenty20 Cup

Notable mentions: Nigel Jones, James Kennedy, Michael Gilmour, Adam Berry, Ross Bryans

Club of the Year

Waringstown obviously had another fantastic year, but my club of the year is Templepatrick.

Their 1sts didn’t lose a single game all season (three trophies) which is quite remarkable, while their 2nds won Junior League 4 and 3rds were promoted from Junior League 7.

The youth also thrived, with the U-13’s and Under-15’s both winning their leagues. The future is bright at The Cloughan.

Other notable mentions: CIYMS, Lisburn

Young Player of the Year

If Dennison is Player of the Year, the 21-year-old has to be Young Player of the Year as well.

His performances and statistics put him so far ahead of any player in and around his age, and he would fit seamlessly into the likes of the Ireland Wolves right now and is definitely good enough to be a full international.

Second place for me would be Aditya Adey, while Morgan Topping makes up the top three.

Signing of the Season

Carrickfergus conducted a shrewd piece of business when they brought in Matthew McCord from Cliftonville.

He made his First Class debut for the Northern Knights earlier in the summer, and was included again in the most recent squad for the game against the Leinster Lightning, showing he is obviously highly-regarded.

The opening bowler took 27 wickets at a strike-rate of just under 30 and an economy of 4.63, with best figures of 5-36 in what was a solid season for Carrick.

Notable mention: Morgan Topping

Player to watch for 2019

I am going for someone from CSNI, and that player is Matthew Foster.

The teenager has been a regular this season and stepped up to open the bowling in Graeme McCarter’s absence after the Challenge Cup, and his spell against Carrick at Stormont was exceptional without much reward.

Taking 20 wickets at this standard at his age is brilliant, and with another season under his belt at the top level, I expect big things from him next season.

Carrickfergus’ 17-year-old Max Burton played one of the best innings this season with his 104 from 44 balls against Armagh, so he is another one to look out for.

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Foster bowling against Carrickfergus

Bold prediction for 2019

CSNI have impressed me this season, and if they keep their squad together I think they will win either the Challenge Cup or Premier League next year. You heard it here first.

They have a good record in the Challenge Cup, winning it twice in the last five years and got to the final in 2018, and they are a powerhouse in white ball cricket.

Their league form improved towards the end of the season, and if they can get Andre Malan back and Marc Ellison stays at Stormont (teams would be silly not to enquire about his services after a fantastic season), combined with their young players having another season at the top flight, they are capable of something special.

Add to that the odd appearance from Derbyshire and Ireland T20 captain Gary Wilson and the leadership of James Kennedy, plus any winter signings they bring in, CSNI could have the perfect formula to lift some silverware.

I also believe that James McCollum will play a part in the Lord’s Test against England for Ireland come 2019.

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James McCollum has had a great season for the Northern Knights

Andre Malan open to CSNI return in 2019

South African professional Andre Malan was one of the standout performers in the NCU last season, scoring 940 runs (four centuries and four fifties) and taking 43 wickets.

The 27-year-old returned to his homeland last month, but he could be potentially making a welcome return next season.

If the Stormont-based side can bring Malan back, they have a great chance of picking up silverware in 2019.

Marc Ellison leads by example at the top of the order, while an array of young stars now have another season under their belt at the top flight.

Here, Malan takes time out of a busy schedule to talk about his first season in Belfast, how special he thinks CSNI is as a club and most importantly of all, if he will be back next year.

How did you find your first season in the NCU?

Very enjoyable. The weather was brilliant and the cricket was of a good level.

I’m sure you’re delighted with how you played personally?

Yes. I wanted to work on some aspects of my game and I am glad with how I progressed throughout the season.

It seemed like you fit in really well at CSNI. Did you enjoy the club?

I did enjoy the club. I made some good friends and the club chairman, Ivan McMinn, is an exceptional human being.

Do you feel they are capable of pushing on and achieving something special?

Yes. Hopefully CSNI can build from this past season and make the right decisions when it comes to crucial aspects of the team and the future of CSNI’s cricket.

Time for the one everyone wants to know: Will you be returning/planning to return in 2019?

Good question. It all depends if CSNI would want me back for another season. We will see how it unfolds.