Cricketers celebrate another successful season

LEAD ROLE...Coleraine coaches pictured at the Coleraine Cricket Club awards evening. CR40-276km
LEAD ROLE...Coleraine coaches pictured at the Coleraine Cricket Club awards evening. CR40-276km

COLERAINE Cricket Club celebrated yet another successful season with their annual Awards Night held in the Cricket Club.

The first eleven ably lead by Ian McGregor following the early season injury to Tim Chopra had their highest finish in the last three years in Senior One, finishing fifth along with making the semi final of the Northern Bank Senior Cup.

Top batsman for the team was won by David Cooke in his first year at the club. Best bowler for the team went to Stephen Dunn but the fact that Coleraine also had Jonny Martin, Scott Campbell, Rishi Chopra and Andrew Douglas all taking 20 or more wickets shows the depth in Coleraine’s bowling attack.

The Seconds won promotion for the second year in succession and will look forward to the challenge of Intermediate One next season. The team also reached the Cup Final where they where beaten by Bready. Best bowler for the team was evergreen Nigel Barr and the batting honours went to prolific run scorer Vishal Chopra.

David Moffatt’s Third Eleven brought home silverware by winning the Junior Cup with a mix of youth and experience and the team also had a strong league campaign finishing second to Brigade. Best batsman for the year was Gerry McEwan and best bowler was Rory Handforth.

The Clubman of the Year Award went to the highly popular Trevor Harper for all his hard work and dedication in all sections of the club this season.

Presentations were also made to Gavin Craig and Sandy Caulfield for their outstanding work on the grounds and pitch preparation – the culmination being the many accolades Coleraine received from the condition of the ground when hosting four games in the ICC Under World Cup Qualifying Series.

The 2011 cricket season has proved to be the most successful in the history of the youth section at Coleraine Cricket Club. No less than five pieces of silverware have been added to the now bulging trophy cabinet.

It all started during the snowy winter when coaching sessions were held at CAI over a ten week period. Many of the boys benefitted from the expert eye of former Indian test cricketer Bobby Rao as well as our own staff. By the end of April when training sessions began all squads were dying to play. The 13 man strong coaching staffs were delighted to see on average 120 eager youths attend practices each week. The demand was so high that sessions had to split over two nights in the week, Friday for U12 boys and U14 girls, whilst Wednesdays were reserved for the U14 and U16 boys’ teams.

It has been a goal of the club for a few years to develop a girls’ cricket team. With around 40 girls attending practice each week, this was certainly the time to get the team set up. However, it was no easy feat to find opposition as there are no other clubs in the North West area that have girls’ Under 14 cricket.

After a lot of searching, coach Stephen McCartney, discovered that Templepatrick Cricket Club had a girls’ team. Even though the bleak June weather tried to hinder match plans, the team duly played them on two separate successful and encouraging occasions.

The U12 boys’ team have ended the season having won both their league and the North West Cup, the only team in the club to have won ‘the double’ this season. They were guided to victory in the final of the North West Cup in mid September by a measured innings of 24 from Marcus Poskitt in a low scoring affair, beating Killyclooney by 6 wickets.

Eoughan Macauley must also take credit for a miserly bowling display of 2 wickets without conceding any runs in the final.

Led by Ben Johnston, the U14 team won the league and came close to also clinching the North West Cup, in the end having to settle with being runners up against a formidable Bready side. However, the road to the cup final showcased some of the brilliant talent emerging through the ranks.

The stand out performance of the campaign was a real match winning captains knock of 60 not out from Ben Johnston in the quarter final. Amongst others Scott Torrens, Marcus Poskitt, Varun Chopra and Callum Smith made some of the valuable contributions.

Young Coleraine prodigy, Rishi Chopra, had the privilege of leading an extremely strong U16 side this season. He certainly led from the front, averaging a meteoric 193 with the bat, whilst his much younger brother Varun was responsible for the demise of many an opposition batting order taking 18 wickets at a phenomenal average of 2.8.

The U16s became league champions and like the U14s came so very close to winning the North West Cup when they were beaten in a thrilling final by the much fancied Donemana. Coleraine went into the game as huge under-dogs, but the lads didn’t let this deter them.

Matthew Douglas and Rishi got the team off to blistering start adding 74 for the first wicket, until Chopra was dismissed for 47. Douglas soon followed for a valuable 23. With a cameo from Michael McCraild, Coleraine managed to amass a competitive total of 118 in 20 overs.

The left arm swing bowling of Stephen Hutchinson proved too good for the Donemana top order who started to crumble under the pressure. Hutchinson removed the top three batsmen including two Irish internationals. With Donemana at 23-4 Coleraine were in complete control of the game, until Irish international Gary McLintock compiled a match wining knock of 61 not out to seal the game for Donemana.

Donemana went on to thrash Dublin side Turn Ure in the All Ireland Final, so it was a case of what could have been for Chopra’s men. However the boys should be very proud of their great performance on this occasion. Winners of the league and runners up in the cup is still a great result for the club.

To put the icing on the cake, Irish U17 captain Scott Campbell led the newly formed U19 team to victory in the North West Cup. The campaign saw a stand out performance from Paul Douglas in the quarter final against Bready, accumulating a superb 55 not out in a convincing victory.

This set up a mouth water semi-final against the always fancied Donemana. However, as became customary this season, the game was affected by rain and was rescheduled for mid September in which a finals day was arranged. Both semi finals and the final was arranged to be played at Bready in one day with the Coleraine and Donemana game to be played as well as The Nedd playing Fox Lodge. A disappointing days cricket began with the news that The Nedd could not field a team.

The umpires then deemed the pitch unplayable so Coleraine and Donamana took part in a bowl out with the winners to play Fox Lodge. Five bowlers from each team were to bowl alternatively at the wickets. Only Rory Handforth, Coleraine’s fourth bowler dislodged the bails to put the Bannsiders in the final.

In the final bowl out against Fox Lodge, Rishi Chopra was the only player to hit the wickets, thus bringing victory and the cup to Coleraine. It was an unsatisfying way for Coleraine to win the cup; nonetheless it was the youth sections fifth cup of a very successful season.

Four Coleraine players played for under age sides and two went on to represent their country. Scott Campbell and Paul Douglas played for the North West U17 team, whilst the North West U15s included Rishi Chopra and Matthew Douglas. Scott and Rishi went to win representative honours; Rishi with the U15s and Scott with the Ireland U17s as captain and 19s as well. Scott was further honoured by being picked for the Northern Ireland Academy coaching squad. In addition to these honours, Rishi had a trial with Lancashire Youths in which he batted and bowled with great skill.

Youth Co-ordinator Ali Handforth said: “It has been a hugely successful whilst frustrating season for the youth section.

“The unseasonal weather along with the inability of other clubs to fulfil fixtures has tested the patience of all involved. Having said that, the success we have enjoyed this season has made it all worthwhile.”

He went on to show his appreciation to all involved saying: “The success of Coleraine Cricket Clubs Youth teams would never have been possible with out the hard work of his hugely dedicated team of 13 qualified coaches and other assistants.”