Coleraine crowned champions after leading the way at the top all season

Champagne celebration for Coleraine. Picture by Barry Chambers / Press Eye.
Champagne celebration for Coleraine. Picture by Barry Chambers / Press Eye.

On Sunday afternoon at a presentation at Coleraine Cricket Club, the 1st XI were crowned as Premier League Champions for this season.

The title was decided finally when Brigade Cricket Club made the decision to pull out of the scheduled playoff game on Sunday at Eglinton, due to the unavailability of some of their team.

Coleraine Cricket Club, captain Scott Campbell pictured with his parents and grandparents.  Picture by Barry Chambers / Press Eye

Coleraine Cricket Club, captain Scott Campbell pictured with his parents and grandparents. Picture by Barry Chambers / Press Eye

In a statement released by the NWCU Board of Control at the end of last week it was confirmed the title would be awarded to Coleraine.

The statement said: “The fact that the domestic programme cannot go on beyond the 20th September was a major consideration in negotiations with clubs involved in end-of-season matches.

“And while due consideration was given to all the mitigating circumstances, the Union had to be fair to all clubs involved in these games, either in a playing or hosting capacity. To that end on 31 August we issued a full and precise list of all the respective finals and play-off dates and venues.

“There are clear and concise regulations governing what constitutes a legitimate reason for having dates of matches changed once set however holidays and work commitments are not among them.

Coleraine committee members Nigel Handforth, Kevin  Bradley, Gavin Craig and David Moffett. Picture by Barry Chambers / Press Eye

Coleraine committee members Nigel Handforth, Kevin Bradley, Gavin Craig and David Moffett. Picture by Barry Chambers / Press Eye

“The Union has had to make several difficult decisions this season already regarding players not being available for high profile matches, however those decisions were taken and subsequently accepted by the parties involved.

“This is not the end of the season that we had hoped for however we feel that it is absolutely essential that members abide by the dates set by those responsible. We should also point out that Coleraine CC agreed througout to comply with any decision of the Union.

“As things stand, and given that we have received official confirmation from Brigade that they will not be fulfilling the fixture, we have no choice but to make arrangements with Coleraine CC to carry out a formal presentation.”

It may have not been how Coleraine would have wanted to have won the title, but the fact is they are champions of the North West Premiership.

And who could argue they are not deserving winners?

Coleraine had topped the table all season and are understandably delighted to now be League winners for the second time in three years.

A club spokesperson told Times Sport the players were disappointed the play-off didn’t go ahead on Sunday.

“There is disappointment amongst the players and supporters that, because of the decision by Brigade, they have been deprived of the opportunity to play what was to be the final match of the League season,” they said

“The Club however, wish to express their gratitude to Eglinton Cricket Club, who had agreed to host Sunday’s game and had put time and effort in to preparing the pitch.

“The NWCU made the decision regarding the date for this final fixture and Coleraine Cricket Club were at all times ready to fulfil it, despite having several players from the usual 1st XI who were unavailable to play this weekend.

“Although a showcase playoff game would have been the preferred option to complete the season, Coleraine have held the top position in the League from start to finish. They finish ahead on net run rate and are on all counts deserving champions.”

Coleraine has a good squad of players within the Club as a whole, with young captain Scott Campbell not being afraid to include teenagers as young as 14 years old within the team throughout the season.

The batsmen, Niall McDonnell, the Professional Kyllin Vardhan and Scott Campbell all scored over 500 runs this season, in a year where low scoring games were the norm.

This was backed up by crucial all round performances from Gordon Cooke providing both vital runs and wickets, and a superb range of bowlers, Jarred Barnes, Graeme McCarter, Rishi and Varun Chopra and Matty Smyth all sharing the wickets.

Of course there were also the 30 wickets Scott took himself. Altogether the Club have shown strength in depth all year.

The bowling attack has been one of Coleraine’s greatest assets, but their achievements in the field are also worth noting, according to the well-known maxim, ‘catches win matches’.

The Coleraine wicket keeper, Matthew Douglas features in the top three keepers in NW Premiership cricket, despite playing fewer games than most, with two other players in the team listed in the top 20 for catches taken in the field, Niall McDonnell and Tim Chopra.

There have been many other players who have stepped up to the 1st XI this year for a number of games, due to unavailability of others.

The Firsts have had very useful contributions from a total of nine other players, outside the usual 11, who have played up to five times each for the team, including two 14 year olds, Marcus Poskitt and Matthew Hutchinson.

The captain has gained a lot of experience this year, showing that he is not afraid to make the hard decisions on and off the field, with support at all times from the vice-captain, Kyllin Vardhan, who has completed his second year as the Coleraine Professional.

Kyllin has played a crucial part in the club again this year, in addition to his role in the 1st XI, scoring 566 runs and taking 16 wickets, he has provided many hours of coaching each week to the senior and junior players and in the Schools in the area to encourage more participation in cricket.

The Club would like to thank Kyllin for all his hard work before he leaves for South Africa, following a very successful season in Coleraine.

The Club does not continue to thrive and to provide facilities and opportunities for Cricket in Coleraine without the work of the many volunteers, who give their time, efforts and support in developing facilities, coaching the players and maintaining the grounds, so a great deal of the credit goes to them and they can rightly share in the celebration of the success which the 1st XI have enjoyed this season.

The cricket section would also take this opportunity to thank all their sponsors and the Coleraine RF &CC Executive committee whose continuing support is greatly appreciated.

Meanwhile, in the big promotion/relegation showdown at Strabane Park at the weekend, Bready recovered from an awful start against neighbours Fox Lodge to finally show their class and retain their top flight status.

Two wickets apiece for Gareth Heywood (2-37) and Andrew McGinnis (2-41) had reduced the Premiership team to 37-4 before order was restored by Brian Crumley. Batting at number 3, Crumley, who has been a touch below his best this summer, showed all of his quality to produce an innings that kept his team up.

A 73-run stand with Mark Olphert (36) got Bready back into the game before a partnership worth 160 with Craig Young (72) batted the Ballymagorry team out of it. Crumley’s final tally was 127 (12 fours 5 sixes) and that, combined with a late 25 from Adam Warnock meant a total of 313 for the Championship team to chase.

Fox Lodge finally closed on 232; a defeat of 81 runs in the final reckoning.