Tag: North Down

Who improved the most in 2019?

While overseas professionals dominated in the top-flight this season, there were some massive improvements made by a number of local players.

Looking at the statistics, Andre Malan top-scored in the NCU with 1,238 runs while CIYMS spin duo James Cameron-Dow and Jacob Mulder both picked up 47 wickets – the highest total in over a decade.

With the help of those statistics compiled by CricketEurope, we take a look at three players who really stood out in 2019 and improved massively from 12 months ago.

Peter Eakin

In the space of one season North Down evolved from finishing sixth in the Premier League table to being genuine title contenders, and looking at the final standings it was a lot closer than it actually felt through the majority of the campaign.

A big reason for their transformation in such a short space of time was the form of all-rounder Peter Eakin, who scored 366 runs at an average of 45.75 in the Premier League along with 25 wickets in 14 matches.

Averaging 14.56 with the ball – the second best in the league – established him as the premier local all-rounder in 2019 and his form helped propel North Down up the table, and if he can replicate or better that next season, the Comber men will fancy their chances of winning some silverware.

Looking at Eakin’s statistics in 2018, he scored just 109 runs in the Premier League, so he deserves massive credit and all the plaudits he is rightly receiving for turning that around so dramatically.

He also more than tripled the amount of wickets picked up in the league from 2018 (7) and was handed even more responsibility by captain Alistair Shields, opening the bowling on many occasions with the likes of Craig Young missing through international commitments.

Overseas professional Ruhan Pretorius has shouldered most of the expectations for the past few seasons, but with Shields, Eakin, Young and the likes of Stuart Nelson improving in the top order, it makes for interesting times at The Green.

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Peter Eakin batting against Waringstown. ©CricketEurope

Ollie Metcalfe

There is no better batsman in the NCU than Metcalfe at his age group and the progression he made again in 2019 was quite remarkable.

In 2018, Metcalfe averaged 13.75 in the Premier League and scored his 297 runs in all competitions at a strike-rate of 70.63, but fast forward 12 months and his statistics are impressive for someone still developing and making their way in the game.

Opening the batting for Instonians, Metcalfe sits 16th in the runs list for 2019 after hitting 550 runs in 23 innings at an average of 25, but he has also improved his power hitting and is playing with more freedom as illustrated by a strike-rate of 92.44.

An Irish Senior Cup century against Cork County (123* from 103 deliveries) was the highlight of his season while he his other score of over 50 came in the same competition against Rush (53).

He also impressed in the Gallagher Challenge Cup final against CIYMS, hitting 48 while wickets fell around him and he was also able to show that day that he can adapt to different situations, scoring his runs from 73 deliveries to help give his side a chance at the time before they eventually went down by 98 runs.

Metcalfe is a very exciting prospect, not just in terms of club cricket but looking further into the future for international honours.

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Metcalfe batting the Gallagher Challenge Cup final. ©CricketEurope

John Matchett

Matchett formed one part of a superb opening partnership with Chris Dougherty this season as the pair set a platform for CIYMS to win four trophies and have the best campaign in their history.

His ability has never been in doubt but this was the season that Matchett really announced himself properly, hitting 838 runs at an average of 33.52 and a strike-rate just under 100 (99.76).

What was even more remarkable was his consistency, registering eight fifties in 28 innings – a number only Ruhan Pretorius could match – while also scoring two centuries.

He was on absolute fire for the last few weeks of the season, hitting two half-centuries in one day as CI lifted the All-Ireland Twenty20 Cup crown and he blasted 72 from 45 deliveries to help his club tie with Instonians to seal another Premier League trophy.

The shortest form of the game is the one where he seems to thrive most, scoring 276 runs in T20 cricket at an average of 55.20 and strike-rate of 142.27 – the kind of form that might make Northern Knights head coach Simon Johnston take action next season.

All those statistics have improved beyond sight from 2018, where he scored 526 runs in all competitions at an average of 25.05.

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John Matchett. ©CricketEurope

*Let me know who you think were the most improved players in 2019 via email (johnnymorton003@gmail.com) or on Twitter!*

JM Sport 2019 End of Season Awards

The 2019 season is drawing to a close and it has been four months of exciting,
dramatic action in the Northern Cricket Union.

CIYMS picked up four trophies, Muckamore were ultimately relegated from the Robinson Services Premier League and Woodvale secured promotion to the top-flight for the 2020 season.

It is that time of year again where we hand out the JM Sport End of Season
Awards in a range of categories. Let’s begin.

NCU Player of the Year

Winner – James Cameron-Dow

Honourable mentions: Jacob Mulder, Chris Dougherty

This was maybe the toughest category to decide out of all that you will see in this
article due to how well CIYMS played this season and how many contributed to
their success.

Cameron-Dow, just like Mulder, picked up 47 wickets throughout the season in
all competitions while Dougherty scored a wonderful 916 runs while playing a
part in 43 dismissals behind the stumps.

With overseas professionals excluded from this (their own category coming up), I opted for Cameron-Dow who picked up his wickets at an average of 14.32 in 29 matches with a strike-rate of 22.

His economy was also 3.91 and he rated just slightly better than his spin twin
Mulder in those categories, but there was barely anything in it which is further
illustrated by the fact his best figures were 4-10 and Mulder’s were 4-11.

Cameron-Dow also chipped in with some important runs down the order – none
more so than in CIYMS’ first league meeting with North Down that had a big say on the title even if it didn’t feel like it at the time.

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Cameron-Dow helped CIYMS to four trophies in 2019

 

Innings of the Year

Winner – Greg Thompson (153 vs CSNI, 12 May)

Honourable mentions: Andre Malan (145* vs North Down), Jacques Snyman
(190* vs Instonians)

I can only judge this on the innings that I witnessed personally throughout the
season and because I wasn’t present at Middle Road when Snyman blasted190*
against Instonians, I can’t go with that although I’m sure it was brilliant.

At Stormont in early-May, three of the seven highest run scores throughout the
whole season were complied with Greg Thompson (153) and James McCollum (140) scoring centuries in the first innings before Andre Malan (136) notched up his own in a 50-run defeat.

Thompson was fresh off hitting 149* the previous day at The Lawn against
Instonians and was in superb form, hitting 153 from 118 balls with 16 fours and six maximums.

I tweeted very early on that Thompson was going to go big on that sunny Sunday
because of how good he looked from ball one and that proved to be the case as
Waringstown motored to 347-7 despite being 25-3.

Thompson has had an impressive season so far, hitting 757 runs at an average of
47.31 with Waringstown scheduled to face North Down on Saturday.

Bowling performance of the Year

Winner – Josh Manley’s first spell against CIYMS – Challenge Cup final

Manley had a wonderful debut season in the NCU and his run in the Gallagher Challenge Cup was something special.

After dismissing four of Waringstown’s top five in the quarter-final to knock the
reigning champions out of the competition, he fired in the final to dismiss CI’s top three and leave the favourites reeling at 12-3.

It took some special batting from Jason van der Merwe and Obus Pienaar to get
them out of it before Mark Adair took over late on, but that opening spell from
Manley was incredible.

In the end, he picked up figures of 4-42 from 9.2 overs which doesn’t tell the
whole story and he is set to have a big impact in the coming years with the
Northern Knights and potentially Ireland.

Overseas professional of the Year

Winner – Andre Malan

Honourable mentions: Jacques Snyman, Ruhan Pretorius

Copy + paste from the 2018 season.

Malan was brilliant last season but somehow found a way to be even more
impressive in 2019, hitting a league-high 1,238 runs at an astonishing average of
65.16 with six fifties and five centuries in 23 innings. Truly insane.

If that wasn’t enough, he would also take 41 wickets for CSNI with a strike-rate
of 23.02 before jetting back to South Africa where he is set for another busy
period.

He has been the best player in the NCU for the past two seasons and I’m sure he
will have no shortage of offers to come back in 2020.

Snyman smashed 1,085 runs in his first season for Carrickfergus and also took 24
wickets while Pretorius averaged over 50 for the fourth consecutive season and
made his mark on the Inter-Provincial game with the Northern Knights.

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Andre Malan batting in the Premier League against North Down

Captain of the Year

Winner – Nigel Jones

Honourable mentions: Alistair Shields, Adam Berry

I feel like this is a straightforward answer considering how the season unfolded
with Jones leading CIYMS to four trophies.

He has the best squad of players at his disposal but he is the one that holds
everything together at Belmont and it is clear to see he has created a real team
culture there and they’d been building up to a season like this.

Jones has also tried to give youth a chance when possible with the likes of Zach Solomon and Carson McCullough playing on a regular basis and when it comes
time for him to leave the club, they are going to have an almost impossible job
replacing him which pretty much sums his impact up.

Alistair Shields turned North Down from a sixth-placed side into title contenders
in the space of a season and he will be looking to add one or two more to his
squad for 2020 as they look to take that next step.

I know Lisburn lost their last eight in a row, but staying in the Premier League
after being promoted isn’t an easy task in this day and age, so Berry deserves
credit for that and Lisburn’s early season form.

Breakthrough player

Winner – John Matchett

Honourable mentions: Ollie Metcalfe

Matchett has been opening the batting for CIYMS for a few years now but this felt like the season where he really broke through and showed what he is all about.

Over the past month he has shown incredible form to end up with 838 runs at the top of the order at an average of 34.

He played a massive part in winning the All-Ireland Twenty20 Cup, sharing two
century stands in a day with Chris Dougherty and was named man of the match in the final for his half-century.

Matchett will be on the verge of Northern Knights selection if he can carry this
sort of momentum into 2020 and seems to be the future of CIYMS.

Ollie Metcalfe is the best teenage batsman in the union and has scored 543 runs so far with his highlight being an Irish Senior Cup century against Cork County.

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Matchett being awarded Man of the Match in the All-Ireland T20 final

Unsung hero

Winner: Ryan Hunter

A new category for this season and it is awarded to someone that had a big say in
even bigger matches but perhaps was overshadowed by the performances of
those above him.

Hunter didn’t have as many opportunities this season for CIYMS but always stood up when his side needed him in the games that mattered.

Just this past weekend, he scored 30* of CI’s 113 to set a reasonable total against
North Down in a game that all but secured the league crown and was there at the end against Instonians in the deciding match as they reached 192 for a tie.

Hunter also scored 39 in the Gallagher Challenge Cup final in a 110-run sixth
wicket stand with Mark Adair .

Best signing of 2019

Winner – CJ van der Walt

Honourable mentions: Josh Manley, Murray Commins

Van der Walt kicked his 2019 season off by picking up a five-wicket haul for
Carrickfergus in the opening Premier League game and didn’t really look back
from there.

Batting in the middle order, van der Walt scored 653 runs at an average of
almost 40 as Carrick reached their first ever Irish Senior Cup quarter-final and
rounded the league campaign off by winning six in a row.

He also took 30 wickets to cap off what is the ultimate all-round season and with
the likes of Snyman, Jamie Holmes and van der Walt, Carrick have a team going
forward that should be capable of winning trophies.

They have all the potential and have added firepower, so a couple more additions during the winter could see them take that next step.

Umpire of the Year

Winner – Alan Neill

Honourable mention: Michael Foster

When deciding this category I looked to who officiated the biggest matches, and
Neill was in the middle for both the Irish Senior Cup final and Gallagher
Challenge Cup final alongside Phil Thompson.

It has been a big season for umpires with four of them (Neill included) receiving
contracts from Cricket Ireland and the standard is seemingly increasing and
participation also healthy enough in the NCU.

Foster stood in his first Irish Senior Cup final alongside Neill at Milverton this
season between Pembroke and Waringstown which is a fantastic achievement.

It is a great advert for our officials that two of them were doing the biggest club
game of the season while another, Jareth McCready, was on third umpire duties.

Women’s Player of the Year

Winner – Alison Cowan

Honourable mentions: Abbi Leckey, Amy Caulfield, Suzi Morrison-Keates

The women’s game has continued to improve year upon year and the Challenge Cup final at Stormont between CSNI and Muckamore was a great, exciting spectacle that went down to the final ball.

Captain Abbi Leckey held her nerve in the final over as CSNI secured their first
cup title after falling at the final hurdle against Lurgan last season while also
picking up the Premier League crown.

Cowan has been the star of CSNI’s team throughout the season, finishing not out
in five of the six league matches that they played, scoring three half-centuries in
that span.

She also scored another half-century in the Challenge Cup against Waringstown
while registering 42 in a semi-final success against Lurgan in what was a special year for CSNI’s women’s side.

Coach of the Year

Winner – Simon Johnston

When you talk to any player that has spent any amount of time in the company of Johnston, they are so enthusiastic about his love for the game and how brilliant he is as a coach.

The Knights haven’t had the luck with injuries or the squad to truly compete on
all fronts before this year, but everything seemed to click in the Twenty20 side of things and they also showed a lot of promise in the 50-over competition, beating Leinster in Dublin.

A true reflection on a coach is how the players improve in their company and it is no coincidence that Mark Adair, Shane Getkate and James McCollum are now
established Ireland stars while Jacob Mulder, James Cameron-Dow, Greg
Thompson, Harry Tector and David Delany have all been involved/are set to be involved.

Johnston has a very exciting squad at his disposal now and it’s going to be interesting going forward to see how they perform.

(Fun fact: Johnty was once my coach at NCU Under-15 level and dropped me at the
final stage before the Inter-Pro’s. I’m not bitter. I promise. I’m fine!)

Section One Player of the Year

Winner – Stephen Bunting

Honourable mentions: Wayne Horwood

Woodvale were by far and away the best side in Section One this season and
were able to take that leap from contenders to champions.

Without having access to any statistics for the S1 campaign and having watched
limited action in the competition, I am relying a lot on scorecards and statistics
for this selection.

I played in two games for my home club Armagh this season against Holywood,
where David Kennedy took 8-29 in the first innings before Ross Adair smashed
70* from what felt like 30 balls, and a comfortable win against Ballymena.

Bunting features on almost every scorecard in some fashion, be that with bat or ball, with a couple of six wicket hauls scattered in there while Horwood played a great role at the top of the order setting a platform for the Ballygomartin Road men.

It is a big jump to the Premier League but they’ve two proven performers already
in their side and will need to recruit smartly.

One thing I would change for 2020?

Answer: White ball Premier League

Not really an award as such but it was included on Twitter so thought this was as good a place to answer it as any.

I am a big advocate for a 10-team Premier League but I don’t know if I want it put in place for the 2020 season because the team coming second in Section One didn’t know they were playing for that and mightn’t be ready, but if they are happy to be promoted then I’m all for it.

If we have 10 teams who all play each other once and then the league is split into two groups of five, I believe it would produce more competitive cricket with the last four games of the season being played between teams of the similar standard and could also help the need to spend big money knowing those teams who are looking to survive will be playing against each other in the remaining weeks.

One thing that I would really love to see tested is a white-ball, coloured kit
Premier League.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but turning up to watch a white-ball game is more exciting and it feels conducive to better games, more runs and a better spectacle.

The best times of the season are always big cup games (which are all white ball)
and I would be interested to see if that would translate into the league.

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Could CIYMS be defending their title in a white ball league come 2020?

The Johnny Mo Show – Episode Four

Like McCollum in episode three, James Cameron-Dow made his Ireland debut over the winter against Afghanistan, playing in the ODI series before being named in the Test XI.

On The Johnny Mo Show, Cameron-Dow talks about growing up in South Africa, playing for the likes of North Down, CIYMS and the Knights and also his international experience.

UP CLOSE WITH…Ryan Haire

Since 2006, Ryan Haire is one of only three men to surpass the 7000 run mark in NCU cricket, racking up 8061 at an average of 40.10.

Haire was part of the North Down side that dominated the local cricket scene in the early-2000’s for a decade.

He also played in two One Day Internationals for Ireland, hitting a half-century against Scotland in 2008.

Here, he reveals the best player he has played with and against, favourite match and more.

First cricket memory?

Going to summer camp led by the late Raman Lamba around 1987/88 at The Green, putting his gloves on and never going near his kit again following the telling off I got!

Highest ever score?

157 for North Down.

Best figures?

7-21 on debut for NDCC 1sts.

Best player you’ve played with?

It would have to be Raman Lamba. A modern day bat in a past age. Should have played more Tests for India.

Best player you’ve played against?

Probably Brendon McCullum for NZ v Ireland. Such a clean ball striker.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever got?

Do your talking on the pitch.

Favourite match you’ve been involved in?

Selfishly my first Senior Cup final when I scored a 100 at the old Ormeau ground.

Favourite sport except cricket?

Rugby Union.

Favourite ground?

The Green, Comber.

North Down set to sign Jamie Magowan from Muckamore

In one of the first transfers ahead of the 2019 season, wicketkeeper-batsman Jamie Magowan is on the verge of completing a move to North Down from Muckamore.

The Comber side will be adjusting to life without captain Marty Moreland next season, with the veteran spinner stepping down after 23 seasons on the first XI.

He has been replaced by Alistair Shields, who was in charge of the Twenty20 side over the past two seasons, with the team reaching the final twice, where they were beaten by Waringstown on both occasions.

Magowan scored 311 runs in the 2018 campaign, with a high score of 72* coming on The Mall against Armagh.

He is widely considered one of the best wicketkeepers in the NCU, and was a regular for the Northern Knights in 2017.

Magowan, who will be heading to Australia over the winter months, sat sixth on the wicketkeeping dismissal charts last season with 13 catches and four stumpings in 18 matches.

While excited about a new challenge, Magowan says he has a lot of great memories from his time at Moylena.

“Reflecting on my time at Muckamore is difficult because I have so many good memories with some great people at the club,” he said.

“I would like to thank everyone at Muckamore and wish them all the best for the 2019 season.

“I am really looking forward to joining up with North Down as I feel it is the best place for me to improve my cricket, and hopefully help North Down improve as a team.”

IN REVIEW: North Down captain Marty Moreland steps down from first XI duty after 23 seasons

After 23 seasons playing first XI cricket, North Down captain Marty Moreland has decided to step down from top flight action.

Since 2006, only Waringstown’s Gary Kidd (367) has taken more wickets than Moreland (362), and he will retire from 1st XI duty having picked up seven Challenge Cup titles and has won the Premier League on nine occasions.

The Comber-based club finished sixth after picking up 20 points from 14 games (5 wins, 6 losses, 3 no results), and reached the final of the Twenty20 Cup before a seven wicket loss to Waringstown.

Here, Moreland reflects on the 2018 season, looks back at his career and names who his replacement will be.

How do you feel the 2018 campaign went?

It wasn’t that good to be honest. We started well, but we should have done better. We had three void games which doesn’t help.

What do you put the poor season down to then?

We just weren’t consistent enough. The talent is there, but we just weren’t consistent enough with bat and ball.

A major positive was the form of Ruhan Pretorious though wasn’t it?

He is a fantastic professional. I think he is the best in the league. He scored over 1000 runs for us this year and took over 30 wickets, so he certainly performed.

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Ruhan Pretorious

How important is it that Ruhan has re-signed for the 2019 campaign?

He is very important. We are going to be minus a couple of guys next season I would imagine.

You have announced that you are going to retire from 1st XI action. Did you just feel it was the right time to step down?

Yes. It is something I had been thinking about for a while.

When you look back on your career, are you happy with all you achieved? You won a lot of trophies.

Of course. I am very happy with it. The only thing that disappoints me is that I never won the Irish Cup with North Down. That’s the only negative thing.

You have played in some fantastic teams down the years.

I played in some great teams. Taimur Khan was probably the best player I’ve played with or against. When he arrived over in his first few seasons, Taimur was very good.

Who will be taking over now?

Alistair Shields will be taking over. He looked after the Twenty20 stuff this year and last year, so he has done a bit already. He has matured a good bit and is scoring runs, so he is a good person to step into the role.

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North Down finished sixth in the Premier League in 2018

Do you feel the team are in a good position to achieve big things in 2019?

The team is young enough, so it’s just about them getting the consistency. The talent is there, it’s just using it week in, week out, which has been a problem for the past few seasons. You would be looking to see if they can get any new faces, so you never know what will happen over the winter.

Are you looking forward to dropping down to the 2nds?

When I was on the 1sts and not starred, I always played when I could for the 2nds because I enjoyed it. I am looking forward to it. There are three or four young guys that are 15/16 that need to push on, so hopefully they can do that. The 2nds are back in Junior One, so it will be a good standard playing against guys who have been there and done it. Hopefully we can win a Junior Cup!