On Saturday at Sandel Lodge Coleraine 1st XI sent out a clear message that they are serious contenders in the Senior One League title race with a comprehensive victory over the much-fancied Strabane.
After winning the toss, Coleraine put Strabane in to bat, and from the first over the home side was in control. Stevie Dunn and Gareth Burns opened the Coleraine attack and such was the accuracy of their bowling that after six overs Strabane had only been able to score four runs and had already lost the wicket of opening batsman Kevin Martin.
Dunn and Burns maintained the pressure and, by the end of their spells, Strabane were reeling on 47 for 6 – Dunn conceding just 20 runs in his 10 overs and claiming four wickets including the prize scalp of Pakistani International Faisal Iqbal.
Even with some late resistance from Andy Lynch and Tommy Barr, Strabane could only muster 103 runs with Scott Campbell taking two wickets and Chinthaka Jayasinghe and Craig Averill one apiece.
Coleraine’s batsmen were determined not to squander the opportunity which their bowlers had presented to them, and even though Captain Ian McGregor lost his wicket in the fourth over, his opening partner, 18-year-old Scott Campbell, played a confident and assured innings on his way to becoming the current top run scorer in Senior One this season. When his wicket fell, Coleraine required only 25 runs to win and Jayasinghe (41 not out) and David Cooke (4 not out) saw the team home in 28.3 overs with seven wickets to spare.
The following day another home match saw Coleraine take on Glendermott, who had the previous day recorded a victory over the current North West Senior Cup champions, Bready.
The visitors won the toss and elected to bat but Stevie Dunn and Gareth Burns, bowling with the same intensity which they had displayed against Strabane, restricted Glendermott to just 15 runs off the first 9 overs. In the 10th over Burns claimed the wickets of both the opposition’s opening batsmen and will consider himself unlucky not to have made it three when the dangerous Roy de Silva was dropped at point.
De Silva went on to make 33 but Chinthaka Jayasinghe and Johnny Martin ensured that the next 5 batsmen to lose their wickets scored only 2 runs between them, with Jayasinghe returning the remarkable figures of 10 overs – 6 maidens – 10 runs – 4 wickets. Martin took 2 wickets and Scott Campbell and Craig Averill wrapped up the innings with 1 wicket each to dismiss Glendermott for a total of 100 runs.
Coleraine’s reply appeared to be in trouble when Captain Ian McGregor was run out in the third over, but again Campbell dug in, and a 94 run partnership with Averill took the home side to the brink of victory. Averill’s wicket fell with the total on 99, but fittingly Campbell hit the winning runs off the first ball of the next over to finish on 44 not out.
Scott Campbell will be hoping to follow up on this success at home, as he travels as part of the Ireland A team this week to play a three day match in Maidstone, Kent. Coleraine Cricket Club would also like to congratulate Scott on his selection for the squad representing Northern Ireland in the first of three North-South games which are to be played this summer.
Next weekend sees another double-header as Coleraine travel on Saturday to take on Killyclooney in the Senior Cup and then entertain Bonds Glen at home on Sunday.