Cricketers suffer chastening defeat at Stormont

Cricket.
Cricket.

Ballymena exited the Ulster Bank Challenge Cup on Saturday, losing their first-round match to Civil Service North by 96 runs at Stormont.

Having won the toss and chosen to bowl in the hope of taking early wickets, CSN openers Andrew Cowden and Regan West instead plundered centuries as the local side was made to toil.

West, a hard-hitting left-hander, made 117 from 110 balls before retiring hurt while Cowden faced 170 balls in constructing his unbeaten 101. Each batsman was given at least three lives by Ballymena, who turned in one of their worst fielding performances in recent memory.

Veteran seamer Michael Glass returned ten overs for 36 and Matthew Purse delivered one of his better spells for the club, but without early wickets and on a good pitch the Ballymena spinners were treated with contempt by the home batsmen.

Pakistani professional Azeem Ghumman eventually took took late wickets thanks to good catches in the deep, but this was little consolation to the local side, who were set a target for 274 for victory.

Ballymena’s reply could not have got off to a worse start: Michael Taylor was bowled off his pads, skipper James Kennedy was likewise bowled by John Costain, and Ghumman was caught at second slip, all without scoring.

Yet from the position of 2-3, Ballymena scrapped for respectability. Steve Lazars again played beautifully and was unlucky to make only 74 (from 76 balls) and he was ably supported by Stephen Colgan (20) and young John Glass (17).

An unbeaten stand of 28 for the last wicket between Matthew Purse and James McClean then took Ballymena within 100 of their target, but this was a chastening day.

Ballymena’s 1st XI has no Saturday fixture this week because it does not participate in the Ulster Cup, but Waringstown travel to Eaton Park for a Twenty20 Cup group match on Friday evening