It was a week of mixed fortunes for Coleraine 1st XI as they consolidated their position at the top of the North West Senior One League with a convincing win over Limavady, but were then edged out of the Senior Cup by Brigade in a closely contested semi final at Sandel Lodge.
The Limavady fixture was held over two evenings – starting on Tuesday. Limavady gained first advantage by winning the toss and electing to bat. However when captain Andrew Riddles was bowled by Stevie Dunn and the talismanic Decker Curry was run out with a direct hit from Paul Douglas, the visitors had managed to score just nine runs.
Coleraine’s bowlers mad the most of this opportunity by maintaining the pressure on the batsmen, with Scott Campbell claiming two wickets whilst conceding only 14 runs in his eight over spell. There were also two wickets each for Chinthaka Jayasinghe and Craig Averill and a second for Stevie Dunn as Limavady struggled to a total of 143 in their 40 overs.
Returning on Wednesday, Coleraine decided to experiment with Craig Averill joining Scott Campbell to open the batting. When Averill was bowled for 11, with the score on 29, Chinthaka Jayasinghe joined Campbell to construct a steadying 68 run partnership for the second wicket. Although their wickets fell in quick succession - Campbell (42) and Jayasinghe (26) – they had taken Coleraine to within striking distance of victory, which was secured with 19 runs from Calum McGregor and 14 and 5 from David Cooke and Paul Douglas respectively, who both finished not out.
Saturday saw Coleraine back at Sandel Lodge hosting the semi final of the Senior Cup against Brigade. The visitors won the toss and batting first, got off to a typically aggressive start, scoring at over six runs an over until Mattie Moran was caught by Chinthaka Jayasinghe off the bowling of Scott Campbell.
Coleraine’s bowlers worked hard to prevent the Brigade batsmen from settling and were successful in claiming wickets at regular intervals, four wickets for Jayasinghe and three for Craig Averill in their respective 10 over spells. However, they were unable to dislodge Iftikar Hussain and, while seven of the Brigade batsmen failed to reach double figures, he finished on 105 not out to help his team to a very competitive 227 in their 50 overs.
Again Coleraine’s batting was opened by Scott Campbell and Craig Averill. Both looked comfortable and untroubled by the Brigade bowling attack and they had added 38 before Averill was run out. Chinthaka Jayasinghe and Campbell were then both caught by Harry Chappell off successive deliveries from Trevor Britton and the introduction of Mark Simpson saw first Calum and then Ian McGregor both dismissed in the 24th over with the total on just 90.
With five wickets down and 138 runs required many observers expected an early finish to the game but David Cooke had come in to bat at number five and he was joined by Paul Douglas, as, together they forged a 42 run partnership for the sixth wicket. Cooke was still there when, with 70 runs required off nine overs, Johnny Martin came to the crease.
In the next eight overs both Cooke and Martin displayed self belief and determination as they added 56 runs for the ninth wicket. Cooke made 78 in these hard fought overs of the game but was caught off the bowling of Mark Simpson and Coleraine’s hopes of progressing to the final of the Senior Cup ended as they finished on 214 all out as Johnny Martin was left stranded on an unbeaten 23.
Despite losing this semi final Coleraine’s 1st XI can be rightly proud of the game they played as they took the watching crowd of home, away and neutral spectators to the penultimate over, all still tensely wondering who would be victorious. The team has shown its depth of quality and fighting spirit, which will stand them in good stead for the second half of the season as they hope to maintain their League form.
The loss of Scott Campbell who has been a match winner for the team in many of its games to date will be a blow to the team as he leaves to play with the Ireland Under 19s in the World Cup in Australia next month. Everyone at the Club is delighted by his inclusion in the squad for this prestigious tournament and wishes him the best of luck on this opportunity of a lifetime.
This Saturday, July 21, the 1st XI travel to Creevedonnell with a 12 noon start and, in an effort to catch up with outstanding fixtures, they will also play in the evening starting at 6.30pm next Monday, Tuesday and/or Wednesday at home to Brigade in the league, with further home games now scheduled for the 28th and 29th against Bready and Donemana respectively.