Cricketers bow out of Twenty20 cup competition

Azeem Ghumman top-scored for Ballymena in their Twenty20 defeat by CSNI.
Azeem Ghumman top-scored for Ballymena in their Twenty20 defeat by CSNI.

Ballymena 1st XI have finished bottom of their group in the NCU’s Twenty20 Cup after losing by 8 wickets to CSNI last Friday night.

Michael Taylor, deputizing for James Kennedy, won the toss and chose to bat first on a freezing evening at Eaton Park, and was immediately punished for this decision when he played on to Imran Khan.

However, Azeem Ghumman and Steve Lazars soon set about a recovery for the home side.

With the score on 38, Lazars fell for 16, caught behind to the off-spinner Adair.

Ghumman and William Montgomery then put on 63 for the third wicket before Ghumman (49) was dismissed by an excellent running catch in the deep.

Montgomery finished unbeaten on a well crafted 30 - unusually, it featured no boundaries - as he and Philip Harshaw, who looks increasingly comfortable at this level, took Ballymena’s score to 110-3.

Although this was a competitive total, Ballymena still needed early wickets with the ball. Steve Lazars obliged, trapping the dangerous Wayne Horwood lbw before removing youngster Paddy Park with the score on 22.

Ballymena’s other bowlers, however, proved less of a threat as interprovincial player Shane Getkate struck five fours and two sixes on his way to an aggressive and unbeaten 54.

His batting partner, the youthful Paddy Beverland, then grew into the game and finished unbeaten on 41, closing proceedings with a massive six over mid-wicket as CSNI reached their target with twenty-three balls to spare.

While Lazars took both wickets to fall, the pick of Ballymena’s bowlers was probably Matthew Purse, the left-arm seamer delivering four accurate overs for only thirteen runs.

In a strange way, Ballymena’s cricketers may be relieved to have exited all three ‘white ball’ competitions.

They can now concentrate on the season’s main objective: guaranteeing survival in the Ulster Bank Premier League.

The local side returns to league action this Saturday, when they take on relegation rivals Lisburn in a re-arranged fifty-overs match at Eaton Park, starting at 1.00pm.

Captain James Kennedy is expected to have a fully available squad from which to pick his team.

Many observers are expecting the two fixtures between Ballymena and their newly-promoted opponents to have a significant bearing on who will finish bottom of the Premier section this season.

Ballymena will be hoping to secure the victories they need in order to extend their sequence of playing at the top level into an eighth successive year.