Ballymena Cricket Club Fourth XI kicked off their season in fine style with a 70 run victory over Ards 2nd XI.
After being invited to bat first, Ballymena openers Alastair Crease and Matt Smith were able to take advantage of some wayward bowling to get the Ballymena side off to a flying start. When Crease was out for 29 in the 11th over there were already 92 runs on the board.
James Carmichael, playing his first game for several years, soon got into the swing of things with a steady 15 before being caught trying to push the score on. Carmichael’s departure saw the arrival of James Russell who hit two fours and a six in a quickfire 20 before skying a simple catch to cover.
Meanwhile Smith continued to play sensibly, pulling the ball consistently well, bringing up his first club 50 in the 17th over. When Smith was joined by Dean Gordon, the scoring went on to another level with the returning Gordon plundering 48 runs in no time, hitting six fours and two sixes. At the close, 15 year old Smith had moved on to an excellent unbeaten 84 with the innings closing on 238 for the loss of just 3 wickets.
With a required run-rate of almost 8 an over, the Ards side were always up against it and some steady bowling from opening bowlers Matthew Bell and Dean Gordon meant the home side were always behind the rate.
The introduction of Matt Smith’s slow bowling brought about the first wicket with the score at 52. The home side continued to struggle and some smart work by novice keeper Calum Crease saw the dangerous opener Balfour stumped for 23 off man-of-the-match Smith’s bowling, with the score at just 79 in the 16th over. Wickets continued to fall on a regular basis, despite some calamitous missed catches, with the slow bowling of Carmichael proving particularly effective, resulting in 3 wickets. A further wicket for O’Boyle and two wickets at the death for Bell meant that Ards were only able to muster 168 runs.