Coleraine 1st XI met Lurgan on Saturday, May 12th, in the first round of the Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup, a match which was made all the more significant as Coleraine RF & Cricket Club celebrated the Official Opening of its new Cricket Practice Facilities at Sandel Lodge.
A host of important guests, including the Club’s sponsors, who, together with the Lords’ Taverners had assisted the club in funding the project, attended the function which took place at the tea interval after Coleraine had batted. The club was delighted to have the President of Lurgan Cricket Club and Cricket Ireland President, Ross McCollum attend the event along with the Ireland team Manager Roy Torrens.
They brought along the ICC World Twenty 20 Qualification Trophy which the Ireland team won in Dubai in March for the Coleraine players and supporters to admire. Representatives from the Coleraine Sports Council were also in attendance, with everyone enjoying the game and complementing the Club on its excellent grounds and facilities.
The Deputy Mayor, Cllr William King, performed the opening ceremony by cutting the ribbon which spanned the double practice nets. It then fell to North West Director of Development Bobby Rao MBE to bowl the first ball to Matthew Smyth, Coleraine under 16 and 3rd XI player. A number of other young players from the Coleraine youth teams followed his lead as they showed off their bowling and batting to the assembled guests.
Afterwards the guests and Club officials witnessed the awarding of a Lifetime Membership by Coleraine Club President, Willie Duffin, to Gavin Craig who has contributed so much to Coleraine Cricket Club over many years, firstly as a player and latterly the team Manager, as well as being heavily involved with Cricket in the North West Cricket Union and Cricket Ireland. He has in recent years been Manager of Ireland A team and recently was Manager of the full Ireland team in the UAE when they won the Twenty20 Qualification tournament to take them into the World Cup in Sri Lanka this September.
Willie Duffin also paid tribute to the current Cricket Club Chairman, Gareth Godfrey, who was presented with the Clubman of the Year award in recognition of his tireless work over the past 12 months on behalf of the Club.
On the field of play, after a short delay caused by a rain shower which thankfully proved to be the only one of the day, Coleraine 1st XI were put in to bat by the visitors. Ian McGregor and Scott Campbell played carefully for the first ten overs. With the total on 45, Lurgan briefly celebrated a breakthrough when the Coleraine Captain was bowled by John Guy, only to have the delivery adjudged a No Ball. McGregor made the most of this reprieve, smashing the subsequent ‘Free Hit’ to the boundary and going on to accumulate a total of 79.
Campbell continued his good start to the season contributing 33 runs to the opening partnership of 85, laying a solid foundation for Chinthaka Jayasinghe and David Cooke, who added 48 runs and 51 runs respectively – the former hitting three fours and three sixes in the 38 deliveries he faced and the latter racing to his half century in just 47 balls and finishing the innings not out.
With a score of 263 runs in 50 overs, the home side’s batsmen felt that they had provided their bowlers with a good total to defend, but Lurgan’s opening pair of experienced professional Naranjan Godbole and Captain Stephen Johnson, lost no time in setting about the run chase. They struck eight fours and a six to reach 52 in 50 balls but in the space of six deliveries the visitors were reduced from 52 for 0 to 52 for 4 with Stephen Dunn and Johnny Martin each claiming two wickets.
This was a blow from which the NCU side never recovered, and with two of the Lurgan batsmen having suffered injuries during the first innings and consequently being unable to bat, Coleraine wrapped up the game in 1 hour 20 minutes, dismissing the visitors for just 78 to win by an impressive margin of 185 runs.
The victory leaves Coleraine as one of only three North West teams to have progressed to round two of the competition, where they will face Donemana on June 9th at home. Next week League action resumes with two home games - against Strabane on Saturday at 1pm and Glendermott on Sunday at noon.