On Saturday, Coleraine hosted CIYMS at Sandel Lodge in the first round of the RSA all Ireland Cup – the blue riband event of Irish cricket.
The Belfast side arrived at Sandel Lodge having been tipped by many commentators as likely winners of this prestigious competition and Gordon Cooke and his team knew that they would have their work cut out to progress to the next round.
A wet start to the day did not augur well and there was a frustrating wait for all the players and spectators until the umpires decided that condition were dry enough to allow a reduced overs match – with two innings of 26 overs – to get under way at 4.35pm. That any play at all was possible was due in no small part to the hard work and skill of Gavin Craig and a band of helpers who worked tirelessly to protect the pitch from the rain and, when it did ease off, to make the ground playable as quickly as possible.
First advantage went to CIYMS who won the toss and inserted Coleraine to bat - and they quickly capitalised on this as opening batsman Niall McDonnell was bowled for just five runs. Scott Campbell however, rose to the challenge and with 21 runs off 25 balls, he laid an excellent foundation for professional Kyllin Vardhan and wicket keeper David Cooke. Vardhan scored an invaluable 40 off just 33 balls and, supported by Jarred Barnes, Gordon Cooke and Paul Douglas who all produced strike rates of 100+, the experienced David Cooke (19 not out) steered his team to a final tally of 138 for 8.
Given the visitors’ reputation, most observers felt that Coleraine would struggle to defend this total. They had reckoned, however, without the firepower of the Bannsiders’ opening bowling attack. Jarred Barnes and Gareth Burns simply blew the CIYMS top order away – leaving the visitors reeling on 21 for 4.
Coleraine were excellent in the field – two of these wickets came courtesy of outstanding catches from Scott Campbell – and it was the 14th over before the first boundary was conceded. Coleraine’s dominance in the field was such that, when the dangerous Nathan Waller was run out in the 14th over by Matthew Smyth, the visitors’ initial asking rate of just five runs per over had risen to almost eight and a half per over.
Former North West player, Trevor Britton, fought back for CIYMS with an aggressive 42 but Rishi Chopra and Kyllin Vardhan claimed the wicket of his batting partners and Scott Campbell held his nerve to clean bowl Britton in the final over to secure a convincing 18 run victory for Coleraine.
This was an excellent all round display by Coleraine against a side of undoubted quality. Coleraine’s batsmen understood the importance of making every delivery count and collectively achieved much better strike rates than their opponents; the opening bowlers both claimed two wickets with Jarred Barnes conceding only nine runs in his six overs and Gareth Burns 14 in his five; and the athleticism of their fielding was demonstrated by the fact that CIYMS only scored six boundaries as opposed to the 14 made by Coleraine.
Sandel Lodge, 10 May.
Coleraine 138-8 (26.0 overs, K Vardhan 40, J Ring 28, R van der Dusssen 3-25, R Boultwood 2-29)
CIYMS 120-8 (26.0 overs, T Britton 42, J Barnes 2-9, G Burns 2-14)
The draw for the next round of the RSA Irish Senior Cup takes place live on Radio Ulster on Tuesday 13th May, with Coleraine only one of six teams safely through to the next round at present.
Next weekend the team have two important fixtures with the first round of the NW Senior Cup on Saturday at Sandel Lodge against Bonds Glen and on Sunday their second league game of the new season at home against Fox Lodge. Both games are scheduled to start a 1pm.