On Saturday, Sandel Lodge was the setting for the much anticipated clash between the teams currently sitting at the top of the North West Senior One League – Coleraine and Donemana.
With a place in the quarter finals of the prestigious Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup at stake, both teams went into the match knowing that they would have to play to their full potential in order to claim that prize.
Coleraine won the toss and decided to put Donemana in to bat. Once again Stevie Dunn bowled superbly – conceding only 14 runs in his straight 10 over spell – and was unlucky that his efforts yielded only one wicket. At the other end, successive bowlers struggled to make inroads into the Donemana batting, with only Scott Campbell managing to record an economy rate of under four an over.
Chinthaka Jayasinghe struck with the third ball of his first over to remove the dangerous Ricky Lee Dougherty, but a 97-run third wicket partnership between Kamran Sajjid and Andy McBrine saw Donemana progress to 161, when McBrine was caught by Campbell off the bowling of Gareth Burns, just four runs short of his half century.
In the following over Jayasinghe struck again, to claim the wicket of Sajjid, courtesy of a fine catch by Calum McGregor. Another wicket each for Jayasinghe and Burns saw Donemana close on 205 for the loss of six wickets.
While Coleraine might have been relieved to restrict Donemana to this total, they would have gone into the dressing room feeling that they could have been in a much better position if all fielding chances had been taken.
In reply, Scott Campbell signalled that he was not going to be intimidated by the famed Donemana bowling attack, by striking the second ball he faced for six and, three balls later following this up with a four. The 18-year-old went on to demonstrate his quality once again with a magnificent innings – not only striking the ball well, but also scoring at a good pace – reaching his half century in 66 balls and his second century this season in 125 balls.
This feat was made all the more remarkable by the fact that he suffered an injury which meant that he required a runner for a substantial part of the game. When his wicket fell with the score on 165 (to which he had contributed 108), he had taken Coleraine to within 41 runs of victory.
It is disappointing that his performance was not matched by his opening partners – his strike rate of 81.2 standing in marked contrast to the 34.3 of batsman one and 30.2 of batsman three, who both failed to capitalise on the run-scoring chances presented by the Donemana bowlers.
As a result, an initial asking rate of 4.12 per over climbed to 5.86 per over.
When Jayasinghe was dismissed six runs later, this exposed a middle and lower order which has, this season, been given precious little opportunity to spend time at the crease. There is no substitute for match experience, and this showed, as, facing the seasoned campaigner Junior McBrine, and professional Kamran Sajjid, Coleraine collapsed to finish 195 all out – 10 runs short of Donemana’s total.
Next week Coleraine have another crucial cup game, this time against North West rivals, Limavady, in the quarter finals of the Northern Bank Senior Cup, with play starting at 1pm at Sandel Lodge.