Ballymena’s cricketers were brought back to earth by a sobering eight-wickets defeat to Waringstown at Eaton Park on Saturday.
It followed on from the Braidmen’s first Premier League victory of the season, against Lisburn, the previous week.
The County Down village can field six Irish internationals, three more interprovincial cricketers, and the customary overseas professional, so it came as little surprise – despite Ballymena’s good home record against this opposition – that Waringstown coasted to the four points.
With captain James Kennedy having won the toss and chosen to bat first, the local side never got out of first gear, losing wickets at regular intervals while crawling to a paltry total of 105 in just over 43 overs.
Only Kennedy batted with any kind of authority, top-scoring with 30, and against the quality of the Waringstown attack, he needed support from at least one of Ballymena’s other two ‘gun’ batsmen, the Pakistani professional Ghumman and the localized Steve Lazars.
Unfortunately Ghumman was trapped lbw by slow left-armer Gary Kidd for 10, while Lazars had scored just a single before being bowled by off-spinner Kyle McCallan.
Three consecutive boundaries from Fergus Taylor – batting at number eight – threatened to inject some kind of late-order momentum into the innings, but it was not to be.
Needing a flurry of early wickets to have any chance of causing a shock, Ballymena attacked from the outset with Kennedy setting some very aggressive fields for veteran opening bowler Michael Glass and Lazars.
Lazars struck twice, bowling Adam Dennison with a quicker delivery before having McCallan caught at second slip off the glove.
But without any kind of scoreboard pressure – and with so many scoring opportunities available due to Ballymena’s attacking field placings – Waringstown were never in any danger of capitulating.
Northern Knights players James McCollum and Lee Nelson thus put on an unbroken stand of 76 for the third wicket, the Villagers reaching their target of 106 in the twenty-first over.
Neither batsman offered a realistic chance as the difference between these two sides was made very clear.
The first XI have no fixture this weekend on account of CIYMS, their scheduled opponents, featuring in the semi-final of the NCU Challenge Cup.
It is hoped that the ‘unstarred’ members of the senior squad will make themselves available for Stephen Colgan’s 2nd XI.
They make the journey to Derriaghy in Junior League Section Two.