Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Only Cregagh could consequentially conjure a considerable Civil cricketing collapse!

Robert Moore

Man of the Match Adam McCormick
The evening of Monday 25th June arose and the eagerly anticipated league meeting between Belfast rivals Cregagh U15s and Civil Service Northern Ireland A’s U15s was upon us. Gibson Park was the venue and with CSNI being All Ireland Champions they were the heavy favourites coming up against a young but spirited Cregagh side. Civil Captain Patrick Beverland won the toss and decided to field first on Gibson Park’s brand new artificial wicket with the hope of chasing down an easy target.

Mark Johnston Under 15 Skipper

Cregagh’s usual opening pair of skipper Mark Johnston and James Hume strapped on the pads and trudged out to the crease with the knowledge that they were up against a strong Civil attack. Their opening bowler was NCU cricketer Ben McGavock and the pair sought about playing out his overs attempting to retain their wicket and increase the run rate towards the middle part of the innings. However Cregagh’s plan wasn’t going in their favour as Johnston was bowled for 2 by Ross. Then having seen off McGavock’s opening spell both Stuart Nelson and James Hume fell to the first change bowler and Cregagh were struggling on 20-3 after 8 overs. Adam McCormick and Lewis Cunningham were next in and were given the task of rebuilding the innings. McCormick played his shots in an attempt to keep the scoreboard ticking but it was a case of one shot too many and the promising all rounder held out to Mid-on for 10 off Smyth. This put Cregagh’s four top batsmen bat in the hutch, 40-4. Cunningham, Daniel Martin and Stuart McClune all tried but failed to reach double figures with the bat and Cregagh were sitting on a dismal 53-7 after 15 overs. Andrew Welsh and Dangerous David Montgomery were No.8 and 9 respectively with Cregagh’s tail needing to wag if they were to post any potential defendable score. Big Dave played his flamboyant shots lobbing two consecutive balls to deep mid wicket for three whilst running every run hard. He gave the end of the innings real impetus and Civil were forced to bring back McGavock for the 19th over in an attempt to skittle Cregagh’s pinch hitter. However this move did not frighten Dangerous Dave in the slightest, in fact it is probably a fairer reflection to say that he thrived on the challenge and lifted his game. This is evident from the second ball of the over being smashed into the cow corner car park for six to the delight of the strong home support. Monty’s confidence was growing and an angered McGavock attempted to follow up with a bounder only for Double D to switch hit the ball into the off side for a single, 70-8 after 19 overs. Welshy joined the party in the last over when he smashed the first ball of the last over through the covers and Cregagh were looking like reaching the par score of 80. However Welshy was bowled by Ross and this brought Adam Skelton to the crease at No.10. He then cunningly dropped the ball at his feet and Dangerous Dave was down at the strikers end before Skelty had even made a move, 75-9 with 3 balls to go. Montgomery could only scamper one single off the last three balls but his magnificent 19 not out was riveting for all the spectators and his last ditch knock gave Cregagh a fighting chance. Additionally he is now knocking on the door of a middle order promotion. Cregagh were left on 76 from their 20 overs meaning that Civil only needed four an over for victory.

Olly Fleetham
Cregagh then took to the field early eager to have a go at the strong civil openers in Beverland and Ross who where both left handers. Johnston and Nelson shared the new ball knowing that an early breakthrough would be crucial and every dot ball would count. Despite opening to two left handers on this rare occasion the two Cregagh bowlers started tremendously pitching every ball just outside off stump which even caused the reputable Beverland some problems. This tight opening start prompted an attacking change in the field with third man being replaced by a gully and a short cover was introduced in the form of agile Adam McCormick. This gave the batsmen something to think about and after Beverland had pulled two fours in consecutive overs, Cregagh needed to strike, 11-0 after three. The ever important first breakthrough arrived in the fourth over when skiddy Stuart Nelson got one to nip back in to Ross and he was bowled which brought the dangerous McGavock to the crease at No.3. Facing his second ball, the Civil all rounder flicked a full toss straight to James Hume at square leg and strangely decided to run. In what was a fantastic piece of fielding, Hume successfully picked up the ball and hurled it into wicketkeeper Martin’s gloves who removed the bails with McGavock well out of his ground, 15-2 after four overs. Johnston and Nelson were given one more over each to try and remove Beverland and increase their chances of victory. However they couldn’t take his wicket of anyone elses and Civil were ticking along nicely, 22-2 after 6 overs. The first change saw Dangerous Dave thrown the ball by skipper Johnston and with his momentum from the previous innings he started pounding in like a train. His very first delivery was straight and too fast for the Civil No.4 who popped it straight back to Montgomery who grasped an easy caught and bowled hurling the ball into the air afterwards, 22-3. Cunningham replaced Nelson at the other end and coming off the back of his 6-13 in the previous match, there was pressure on his shoulders to repeat this event. Two overs passed and Beverland was still at the crease and seemed to be easing his side home to victory before Lewis Cunningham struck with a gem of a delivery which nipped back so much that the Civil captain was bowled round his legs and sent back to the pavilion with the home side knowing there was a game on know, 42-4 after 10 overs. Adam McCormick replaced Cunningham after two of his allotted four overs in an attempt to only use five bowlers and keep the innings as tight as possible with little leeway for error by way of first innings runs. Montgomery was still bowling like a train at the other end and was extremely unlucky not to take another wicket in his third over with the ball passing the edge of the bat on numerous occasions. The fifth wicket partnership started to build and Civil edged ever closer to their target of 77 to win. Then McCormick struck with his usual in swinger to the right hander, bowling the No.5 and Cregagh were halfway there, 54-5 after 12 overs. Dangerous Dave’s penultimate ball of his spell was dragged down and the batsman was grateful for a rare loose delivery and pulled it away backward of square leg for a welcome Civil boundary, 58-5 after 13 overs. This boundary was an indication to Johnston that his side would more than likely need to take the remaining five wickets as scoring 19 off 42 sounded easy for the visitors. This is where the ever reliable McCormick brings his A-game to the table as and when his side needs to take wickets, he comes up with a double wicket maiden in the 14th over with each ball greeted with a roar from the home crowd as it pounded into the stumps to send another Civil batsman packing, 58-7 from 14 overs. Cunningham changed ends as Dangerous Dave was bowled out after a thrilling four over spell. The batsmen had entered attack mode with some of the shots going aerial over Oliver Fleetham’s head at mid-off. A rare wicketless over was completed which included a couple of twos to take Civil closer to their target, 62-7 off 15 overs. McCormick then tried to repeat his over of vicious inswingers only his first ball was pitched on leg and the batsman flicked it off his legs to the backward square boundary which was greeted by a groan from the ever involved spectators, 66-7, ten to win. However just when Civil may have thought they were home, Oliver Fleetham positioned himself deeper at mid-off and the batsman lobbed one straight to him and the eighth wicket had fallen, 66-8. McCormick had one ball remaining in his over and the fielding team were spirited knowing that only two more good balls could win them the match. He bowled the last ball and yet again the sound of a wooden thud was greeted by roars from the crowd as Cregagh’s all rounder had bowled his fourth victim of the innings taking a five-for off three overs. After such a great spell of bowling from the Vice-skipper Cregagh only needed one more wicket and Captain Johnston took the ball for his last over in the 17th. Bowling to the No.10 batsman and with Cregagh having their attacking field, the ball was pitched outside off stump and the batsman got a thick outside edge and it raced away through 3rd man. A well received boundary for Civil, 70-9. Johnston was wicketless so far which was a surprise and with one ball remaining, he attempted to finish the match with an unplayable Yorker to the tailender. However the length was wrong and the batsman sliced the full toss away to the short 3rd man boundary and Civil were within inches of victory, 74-9, three to win off eighteen balls. Stuart Nelson replaced McCormick to bowl his last over in a last ditch attempt by Cregagh to take that final wicket. Nelson’s first two deliveries were full and straight and the batsman kept both of them out to the despair of both the crowd and the fielders. For the third ball of the over he dropped his length back and the batsman anticipated another Yorker so he popped it straight back to the bowler and Nelson held on to send his teammates into frantic celebrations as they had taken their 10th and final wicket with fifteen balls to spare and more importantly two runs.

In what was a fantastic game of cricket involving the All-Ireland Champions and against all odds, the Cregagh underdogs came out on top. The hugely impressive factor about their win was that even when they were 50-8 they never gave up hope of victory and fought right to the death. Then the frightening observation is the fact that these boys are aged 14 and below in an under 15 league. With the exception of Dangerous Dave, they are not going to lose anybody to the age cut next season. If they are beating the All-Ireland champions at this stage in their career, what does it propose for next year with the experience that will be gained or even future years at senior level? There has been a lot of promise from the youth section for years and with victories like these, all we can be is excited for the future success at Cregagh.

Cregagh won by 2 runs

MOTM – Adam McCormick 3-1-5-7


Day one began, if not bright and early, more Baltic and pre-dawn, with a now familiar 4.30am rendezvous at Belfast International Airport. There our tour party of 23 intrepid souls, made up of 22 true Cregagh lads, and a lawnmower enthusiast from Holywood assembled, resplendent in their black tour shirts (except for Disco Dave, who to maximise his sleep, arrived in a fetching pair of pyjamas). After a short wait, the customary delay for the Carrick contingent to arrive from their different time zone, everyone was counted in for the 2012 Cregagh Tour to Portugal.

Bacon Sarnie and a pint at 4.30 am, yes the Cregagh tour had started on its usual note!!
Smuggling Dave through security, we adjourned for refreshments, some for a full Ulster fry, the usual suspects for the liquid nutrients. This year with an unheralded number of first timers, we were quite concerned about the possibility of losing some of them, so we presented each of the six of them with a bright orange T shirt, with “Tour Virgin” emblazoned across the backs, to ensure their safe return if they were ever misplaced. We presented another orange T-shirt to Copey, the “Ginger Mateo”, to ensure all worried husbands would know where he was! Bob got one with his nickname on it “Rocket”, in the hope he wouldn’t be returned if lost, and last but not least, Davy Mac got one so Julie Ann could track him on Google Earth!

Welcome to Carol's place of work ssssssshhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!
Preliminaries over we boarded our flight, and at this stage we usually say, “after an uneventful flight we touched down in Portugal”, or something like that. However not in this case, even before the bar had opened, it was apparent that one of our number had obviously eaten some of his kids sweets, and was charged with too many e-numbers. As the plane was still rising he was told off by Carol, our friendly air hostess, for being over excited, and as the plane levelled out he was on 3 strikes for his boisterous behaviour! We have consulted our legal representatives, and unfortunately we cannot name the culprit, as we have been advised there is a super injunction currently protecting this individual. Meanwhile Davy Mac and Greek Steve, our two concerned and nervous aviators, had lured Big Phil into their “drink till you sink” suicide pact, which resulted in the big man going onto medication on his return to dispel the after effects.

Unfortunately Portugal had been placed on full alert, as news of our impending arrival had leaked with the queues to clear security to get into the country nearly extending on to the runway. However despite their best efforts we all (including Disco in his PJ’s) managed to sneak through. We quickly met up with our transport and embarked on the short journey from Faro Airport to Vilamoura, playground for the rich and famous, and for the next four days, us.
A typical peaceful Thursday night in Vilamoura, or was it??
The apartments, as the saying goes, were pretty from afar...... Perhaps that is a little unjust, but our as advertised, 2 bedroom apartments, were short of one thing, or perhaps two things. Namely, one of the bedrooms was missing and in its place was a living room with a sofa bed, which made the rooming arrangements a lot cosier for half the party. The other problem was, one toilet roll for a room of 4 Cregagh tourists, was grossly optimistic, even on day one! Fortunately a swift telephone call to the booking agents managed to obtain a few additional rooms, which rescued some people’s sanity, although it did not alleviate the snoring issues that were to become evident after the first night.
Waldorf and Statler, well what do you think of the show so far?
With it still only approaching lunchtime, after our early start, it was time to adjourn to the nearby marina for a bite to eat, and enjoy the ambiance. The party reached its full compliment when Gibby joined us after catching a later flight from London. Several hours later we were still in the marina in scattered groups enjoying the ambiance, and nearly in an ambulance after Beaker took a tumble off a low wall! We put the fallen to bed, including our plane sprint drinkers, and the reduced party reassembled for tea that evening, after a swift visit to the local supermarket for the necessities of apartment living, a second toilet roll, some water and a few party bags of your favourite chocolate bars. That night followed a similar pattern to the afternoon, with us enjoying a fair bit more ambiance. The veterans camped in Figo’s Bar for the evening, whilst the younger more adventurous members of the party tried several bars, until they found one with a bit more entertainment, being aficionados of karaoke. Once again just like in Bratislava, although some of us had learned from their previous mistakes, it had been a long first day. Now for some of us it was time for Kitkat and off to bed, tomorrow was another day.
A familiar sight at the Cregagh table

Friday, 22 June 2012

Tour photos & report

This year’s tour saw Cregagh CC take its largest party to date of 24 members to Vilamoura in Portugal to play against a combined Barrington CC and Carvoeiro XI.

The full tour squad
Due to the financial difficulties experienced by the Barrington Club the cricket was saved Browns Sports Complex, situated just outside Vilamoura, kindly offering the use of their artificial wicket, and over the next 2 days this would be our sporting base.

On the Saturday we enjoyed a training session followed by a 20/20 match between ourselves. Played in 30 degree heat and without a cloud in the sky it certainly helped us to acclimatise to the hot conditions, slightly different to what we usually experience back in Belfast.
The 20/20 skippers

On Sunday we then played the combined Portuguese team in a 30 over match starting at 2 pm. After winning the toss tour captain Thompson Dawson elected to bat and to set our hosts a total. To that end Cregagh set a total of 171 off 30 overs. The runs being shared around the team with, Aaron Kerr and Stephen Gibson both hitting their 30’s before retiring, after which Stephen Watt and Matthew Simpson each scored 23.

In reply the hosts got off to a poor start mainly down to the excellent opening bowling partnership of Aaron Kerr and Robert Moore, with 1 for 3 and 1 for 7 respectively, of their 3 over opening bursts, but after some staunch middle order resistance the oldest living bowling attack in Europe finished the job, with skipper Thompson Dawson taking with 3 for 12, and the ageless Ian Kerr with 4 for 5.

20/20 Squads

The two days where then brought to a close with a superb BBQ in the main leisure complex and of course a few well deserved cold beers with our hosts along with our own awards presentation that we like to make to our hosts when Cregagh is in town.

Saturday's team

Once again we would like to put on record our sincere thanks and gratitude to Alan Brown for the use of his wonderful facility, a facility that was the Russian National Football teams base during the EURO 2004 campaign the facility is also used by Ulster Rugby before their Heineken Cup Final and by a whole host of English Premiership clubs and Scottish Premier clubs for pre season training.

Following our visit we now understand that they will look to entertain further touring cricket teams and we certainly would recommend their facility to any touring side.

Once again we would like to thank the NCU for accommodating our request for a fixture free weekend to allow our annual tour.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

A guide to your 2012 Tour Shirts

To assist some of the new members of our tour I have been asked by the tour skipper to provide some assistance on the shirts you will have just received in your personalised tour bag!!!  So here goes

The Playing Shirt;  Should you be lucky enough to meet the selection criteria as set out by the tour skipper you might just be lucky enough to be wearing this and representing Cregagh CC in Europe!

The 20/20 Shirt;  This is the 20/20 Shirt and is to be worn when we are playing the 20/20 match, fairly simple that one, Craig Johnston likes this one!!!

The Squad Shirt;  To be worn to and from matches and around the resort, whilst we are wearing these we should stand out from the crowd making the skippers job easier in the morning when trying to locate his team that day!!

The Travel Shirt; To be worn when travelling and I have been asked to remind everyone this is the shirt we should all be wearing at Aldergrove at 4.30 in the morning!!

Of course to carry all this gear around and make our lives easier the tour skipper thought we needed our own personalised tour bags!

Right I'm off to make sure my packing has been done right!!  See you all at Aldergrove.

Weekend review

With just about every team playing at the weekend I'm sure you will forgive me if I focus on the highlights.

First of all lets get the Under 15 result out of the way, unfortunately the lads came up short against Armagh on Friday night.  Setting Armagh 100 to win we knew we were a bit shy on runs and it turned out this way as Armagh got the runs in the final over.  Always next year lads the talent is definitely there!

Onto Saturday and what would turn out to be a very special day for Matthew Simpson in the Junior Cup.  The firsts were away to Bangor 2nds and were set 241 to win which they knocked off with 2 overs spare.  The star performance coming from Matthew Simpson as he hit his Maiden century a knock of 127 not out, never looked in danger at any time during his innings a knock of real class and surely more to come from the wicket keeper batsman.  He was assisted by Philip Walker and Neil Adams who both shared vital partnerships as the firsts chased down the impressive total.

The seconds where also set a total of 231 to win against Templepatrick 2nds in the league at home.  In the end a brave effort by the lads saw them fall 44 runs shy with the star performance coming from Stuart Nelson with a classy 92 from the young man.  Everyone at the club knows about his talent but this knock was ahead of schedule, brilliant work mate keep it up, the seconds can certainly take positives out of this result against a strong Templepatrick side.

Onto Sunday and the firsts had Dunmurry at home with Leon Moore and Rodney Ontong making their debut.  The firsts managed to bowl out Dunmurry for 144 with Alan Baker starring with the ball by taking 4 wickets.  The batting reply had a wee wobble before Alan again came to the rescue with a typical innings from him, his 68 not out came off 45 balls as he took us over the line and secured a man of the match performance.  A great weekend for the 1st XI progression in the cup and 4 points on the board.

The thirds continued with their impressive run of late by beating Cliftonville on Sunday at Mallusk.  They were set 160 to win the game off 20 overs, quite a total but everyone contributed to get the team over the line.  Adam McCormick hit 29 following on from scoring runs for the 2s on the previous day, Vice Captain Neil Pinkerton scored 27, Stuart Nelson plundered 21 and Stephen Watt finished 11 not out and took the glory by hitting the winning runs.  A great performance to win by 3 wickets and to stay top of the league.

But the weekend belonged to Matthew Simpson for his knock of 127 not out, well done mate very well deserved, I hope Mr. Simpson snr has paid up!!!!!!!