CRICKET: Campbell hits the ton

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On Saturday Magheramason was the scene of a remarkable innings by teenager Scott Campbell.

It was not only the fact that he recorded his debut Senior 1 century, but the manner in which he did so, which impressed all spectators at the match and delighted the supporters of Coleraine Cricket Club who had travelled to watch their 1st XI open the 2012 season against last year’s Senior Cup winners, Bready.

With his first four batting partners dismissed with only 20 runs scored, Scott played with a composure and maturity well beyond his years as he and Craig Averill set about rebuilding Coleraine’s innings. Throughout the game, however, it was Scott who led the way. Having stepped onto the field before the first ball was bowled, three hours and 10 minutes and 50 overs later, he was still there, having amassed a magnificent score of 109 not out, which included nine boundaries.

It is testament to Scott’s fitness and commitment that this was the second match he had played that day, as he had come directly to Magheramason from Ballymena where he had earlier captained Coleraine Inst‘s 1st XI to a comprehensive victory over Ballymena Academy.

The left arm spinner’s skill with the ball has already earned him a place in the prestigious Cricket Ireland North Academy, where, over the winter, a select number of young cricketers have benefited from expert coaching and training. Last week he was also named as a member of the 19-strong Ireland squad for the Under-19 World Cup tournament in Australia in August and the talent with the bat and strength of character which he displayed in the game on Saturday will surely have caught the Irish Selectors’ eyes as they consider the make-up of the final World Cup team.

Although only 18, Scott has been a regular member of Coleraine Cricket Club’s 1st XI for a number of seasons and is a fine example to the many young cricketers at the Club of how it is possible to combine the demands of studying for A levels with achievement at the highest level in this sport.

Unfortunately Coleraine slipped to a narrow defeat despite Campbell’s best efforts. Bready Captain David Scanlon won the toss and decided to put Coleraine in to bat on a good batting track, with Coleraine Captain Ian McGregor and 18 year old Scott Campbell opening the innings.

Within minutes Scanlon’s decision was vindicated as McGregor was caught and bowled by Scanlon himself in the second over and 17-year-old Paul Douglas had an early, but unfortunately short, entry into play falling for three runs to a fine catch at second slip by Bready pro A Sabir. A third wicket, that of new Coleraine professional Chinthaka Jayasinghe, and the fourth of Vice Captain David Cooke, followed quickly, leaving Coleraine reeling on only 20 for 4.

The Coleraine spectators were stunned, but, as new signing Craig Averill joined Campbell at the crease, the crowd witnessed a rebuilding of the innings with steady, mature batting from both players in a 140 run partnership before Averill was caught behind on 39 by wicketkeeper David Rankin. Whilst Coleraine lost three further wickets in the remaining five overs, Scott Campbell continued to drive up the total to a respectable 193 with Campbell himself making 109 not out at the close of Coleraine’s innings.

Although this was a greater than expected target after Coleraine’s shaky start, the Bready batsmen aggressively set about chasing it down scoring 42 before losing David Rankin when he was caught by Campbell off the bowling of Stevie Dunn. As it had been in the first innings, some of Bready’s top order also found the going difficult and three more wickets fell for only an additional 15 runs.

However a partnership of 64 runs between Bready’s returning Professional A Sabir and Mark Olphert kept the target in their reach. Although Coleraine made some further inroads into their batting line-up it just wasn’t enough and Bready finished with eight balls and three wickets to spare. Coleraine’s bowlers, who were left with too much to do, bowled with excellent discipline, conceding only three wides in contrast to Bready’s 27. Mention should also be made of Rishi Chopra and Johnny Martin who took two wickets each.

Next Saturday the 1st XI travel to Fox Lodge, the Seconds and Thirds are at home to Newbuildings and Killyclooney respectively and the Fourths travel to Sion Mills.