The Coleraine Cricket Club Seconds’ season began in earnest against The Nedd amidst bright sunshine on Saturday afternoon.
Despite having no hesitation in deciding to bat first, Peter Wallace’s outfit found themselves in trouble at 11-2 early on, losing both Matthew Douglas and Sammy Prakash to Johnny Young who, accompanied by Keith Burns, utilised helpful early-season conditions at Sandel Lodge.
Refusing to be discouraged, skipper Wallace took the attack to the Nedd, driving expertly during his 34-ball 28, before a spooned drive to Keith Hamilton brought about his demise. Prior to the drinks break, Coleraine slipped to 108-5 as both Wilson Torrens and Stephen Harper lost their wickets as the Nedd attack - extracting uneven bounce and disciplined in their approach – developed a stranglehold on the game.
This brought Kyle ‘Dumper’ Martin into partnership with Rory Knox, who wore down the bowling with a stand of 54. Expert running between the wickets and positive batting from Knox (60) helped hold the innings together; however, it was Martin who broke the shackles, driving belligerently over the bowlers’ head forcefully, a particular highlight for the partisan crowd. Together with debutant Curtis Cooke, Coleraine smashed the bowling to all parts during the latter part of the innings, adding 66 for the sixth wicket at better than a run-a-ball. Although Cooke (28) and Martin (49) both lost their wickets trying to increase the run rate, Johnny Martin (17) smashed two maximums as Coleraine finished sprightly placed on 250-9.
Thoughts went out to umpire Mervyn Young from both camps during the tea break, who was forced from the field of play with a family emergency.
At the resumption, Coleraine refused to allow the Nedd’s chase to develop as both Kyle and Johnny Martin showed their class. Exerting commendable control of seam and swing Kyle (1-9) completed a crucial all-round contribution. It was brother Johnny (5-20), however, who was in destructive form with the ball. Ferociously quick and intelligent in his approach, Johnny’s 5-fer ensured no Nedd batsman made it past 13. Admirable support was provided by the fielders, with young wicketkeeper Matthew Douglas claiming three catches. David Doey and Matthew Smyth both issued the last rights, claiming a wicket each, as the Nedd were all out for 50.
A 200 run victory belied the fact that the Coleraine batting was heavily challenged at various times by the Nedd. Team Manager Nigel Barr conveyed his faith that Coleraine would always come out on top however, citing the outfit’s ‘marvellous team spirit which has been fostered for a number of years now. In saying that, it was always going to be difficult to chase 250 on that pitch boys.’
No doubt such comprehensive displays will continue to encourage such a positive attitude as the season progresses.