Ballymena’s batting woes continued on Saturday as the local side lost to North Down by 45 runs in the Ulster Bank Premier League.
Chasing 184 for a shock victory, Jack Gibson (30), Azeem Ghumman (41), and James Kennedy (28) had taken Ballymena to 115 for 3 in the thirty-fifth over, a very strong position from which a confident side would have strolled to victory.
Yet when Ghumman fell to a contentious lbw decision and when Steven Colgan was adjudged run out by the same umpire, the home side collapsed to 138 all out.
The former Pakistan ‘A’ cricketer Taimur Khan bowled beautifully from the Town End, claiming 3 for 17 as a series of rash shots and poor calls saw Ballymena collapse yet again.
Earlier in the day, four of Ballymena’s five bowlers – off-spinner Michael Taylor was the exception – produced an exceptional display to restrict North Down to 183-6 in their fifty overs.
Following accurate opening spells from Michael Glass and Gibson, Sam Glass – the 16-year-old son of the veteran seamer – bowled ten excellent overs of left-arm spin, clean bowling the experienced Andrew Sutherland and the Northern Knights batsman Alasdair Shields.
Fergus Taylor then produced his most economical spell in senior cricket, delivering ten overs for only nineteen, and when Peter Eakin fell to a good catch with the score on 111, North Down were in danger of not setting a competitive total.
A total of 68 runs came from the last ten overs, however, as Peter Shields and Khan batted sensibly and powerfully, punishing some terrible fielding from the local players,
This week Ballymena travel to Lisburn for a potentially season-defining match.
If James Kennedy’s men can claim a third victory of the season against one of their rivals at the lower end of the table, that may be enough to secure Premier League status for the Eaton Park men for an eighth successive year.
It was against the Wallace Park side that Ballymena claimed their first win of the campaign, following it up with a second successive victory against Carrickfergus in their next game.