Cricket

Steve Lazars has joined Coleraine.
Steve Lazars has joined Coleraine.

There’s a new face in the North West Warriors set-up this year after former Ballymena all-rounder Steve Lazars was added to Ian McGregor’s winter squad following his recent move to Coleraine.

The 34-year old is a native of Karnataka in India and just last October played a leading role as his team, Bellary Tuskers, claimed the KPL T20 title with a 35-run final win over Hubli Tigers.

The player has been on a very strict fitness campaign since signing for the 2014 North West champions and feels he has plenty to offer to both the Bannsiders and his new Interprovincial side as well.

Speaking at the weekend, Steve said that his only immediate concern was to ready himself for what he hoped would be a significant summer.

“I have been made so welcome at Coleraine and am already getting the feel for how unique the game is in this area.

“Warriors training began last week as well and that will become more intense over the coming weekends. I feel I am in good shape and ready to do myself justice when the chance arises.

“I’m here to do whatever I can to help Coleraine challenge for trophies and hope to take my form forward from there into the Interpros.

“The fact that those games carry 1st Class status now is a major motivation for all the players but I know that my performances have to be spot on at club level first and foremost.

“We have the makings of a really good team at Sandel Lodge, with a top qiality “pro” still to come in. I’m really excited by the challenge ahead and cannot wait for the new season to begin”.

Coleraine skipper David Cooke said that he had already seen enough of the new man to know he will be a major asset over the coming months.

“Steve has a big role to play this summer with both bat and ball and he has really impressed everyone with his quality and his attitude. All things considered I think we’re gelling into a team capable of challenging on all fronts this season.”

Meanwhile, the Bank of Ireland senior cup final, the blue riband event in the North West domestic cricket calendar, is set to return to its former spiritual home of Beechgrove this summer after an absence of 19 years.

The Limavady Road venue has hosted dozens of deciders in the competition’s 129-year history, but the last one was in 1998 when hosts Brigade bowled Ardmore out for just 17 in the second innings to lift the famous old trophy.

Improvements to other venues beginning with Eglinton and then latterly at both Bready and Strabane meant that those three clubs subsequentltly surpassed Beechgrove as the Union’s preferred option to host their showpiece. Over the past 18 months however, and no doubt boosted by the return to Beechgrove of former Ireland manager Roy Torrens, a sea change has been very much in evidence at the ground.

New seating all around, and a complete facelift along the boundary coupled with some intense work on the playing surface has seen a real turnaround start to take shape.

A spokesman for the NWCU said that feedback in the wake of the announcement had been “extremely positive”, and that they were confident that the Waterside club would be well up to the task.