In a summer beset with poor weather, Coleraine 3rd XI took on the undefeated league leaders The Nedd after four weeks of no play and returned with a comprehensive eight wicket victory.
With the Intermediate Cup Final looming in two weeks, skipper Dave Moffett decided to ask the Nedd to make first use of a wearing track with a view to giving the bowlers some practice and the batsmen some time in the middle.
It became clear during the first over from Mathew Caulfield that the wicket was hard to bat on and in an unprecedented move the captain asked spinner Davy Doey to open from the other end. Although the first few overs yielded no wickets, The Nedd found runs hard to come by but eventually Caulfield made the breakthrough removing the two openers in successive overs leaving The Nedd on 40 for 2. During this time Varun Chopra came into the attack and although bowling a full 8 over wicketless spell can feel happy with his first performance for Coleraine 3rds.
At 96-2 after 20 overs, The Nedd were well placed to go on and make a big total but they didn’t vouch for the tight bowling of Michael MacRaild (2-25), who clean bowled the dangerous Gerald Smyth, and Matthew Smyth (2-35) who eventually had Alec Steele (69) caught before yorking Steven McDermott to be on a hat trick.
Although Jonny Young defended the hat trick ball, Coleraine knew they had a chance to restrict The Nedd. This hope was further enhanced when Doey had the dangerous Young caught by Simon Hunter, but the evergreen Vinny O’Hara decided to go after the Coleraine bowling to put The Nedd back in pole position. A fine catch by Chopra put paid to O’Hara’s innings and some good end of the innings bowling by Matthew McCook (1-13) saw The Nedd reach 204-8 after their 40 overs.
In response the Coleraine openers Brian Acheson and Matthew Douglas were watchful against the tight bowling of former senior bowler, Keith Burns and Jonny Murray. Douglas played a couple of majestic cover drives to keep the board ticking over but at 29-0 after 10 overs, The Nedd bowlers must have been confident of being able to restrict the Coleraine batsmen in the next 30 overs. Despite Douglas being bowled for 23, Acheson decided to hit the accelerator with 2 majestic sixes off David McKeever and initially the returning Simon Hunter proved a perfect foil for the opening batsmen but he soon joined in with a number of fine shots himself.
Acheson eventually perished on 40 in the 23rd over with the score on 82 and The Nedd still seemed favourites at this stage. But young Michael MacRaild (53 not out) joined Hunter (74 not out) and in the next 13 overs scored over 120 runs to see Coleraine cruise home with almost 4 overs to spare.
The scale of this victory should not be underestimated as Coleraine 3rds were playing against a number of Senior cricketers and were not found wanting. This augurs well for the upcoming cup final against Donemana and captain Moffett was quick to praise his troops, “An outstanding all round display. Tight bowling and fielding restricted The Nedd to a score which I thought we could chase down and my batsmen didn’t disappoint”
Coleraine 3rds hope to rearrange a couple of fixtures next weekend to further help preparation for the Intermediate Cup final as well as their push for promotion.