Firsts hit the ground running

Coleraine’s opening batsman, Niall McDonnell, recorded the first century of the North West Premier League season, as his team crushed Eglinton in a 141 run victory on Saturday.

McDonnell has just joined the Bannsiders this year, and after playing very little cricket in 2012, he obviously relished his return to the crease.

Eglinton had approached the game full of confidence, after signing Ireland International Stuart Thompson from Limavady, but it was McDonnell who dominated the game. After a patient and watchful start, in which he saw off Eglinton’s opening bowlers, he reached 50 runs in 65 balls and then accelerated to bring up a magnificent century off just 40 more deliveries.

Scoring all around the ground, he gave a display of quality batting in an innings which included nine fours and two sixes. He received solid support from Craig Averill (56) and David Cooke (24) and when, on 104, he was adjudged LBW, the visitors had 203 runs on the board. Another 24 were added to take the total to 227 for 8 in 50 overs.

At the interval, Eglinton supporters felt that this was a total which their side could chase down. However, Gareth Burns struck with his first ball, as a spectacular one-handed catch at point by Scott Campbell saw opener Christopher Pierce on his way back to the pavilion. Five balls later, he was followed by Stuart Thompson, who also departed without troubling the scorers. Burns completed his rout of the home side’s top order in his next over, as he had Andy Christie caught by Campbell, to leave Eglinton reeling on 5 for 3.

There was some brief resistance from Richard Wylie, but such was the accuracy of Coleraine’s bowling and the athleticism of their fielding, that only three of the Eglinton players made it into double figures. Two wickets apiece for Gordon Cooke, Scott Campbell and Rishi Chopra and one for Roy Silva saw the home side dismissed for just 86 runs.

While Coleraine will undoubtedly face more challenging opposition in the coming weeks, the team displayed a depth of quality in all three disciplines – batting, bowling and fielding – which supports the view that this side is a genuine contender for silverware this season. That quest continues next Saturday at Glendermott, with play starting at 1pm.