Ballymena Cricket Club First XI finally recorded their long-awaited first win of the year in nail-biting circumstances on Saturday.
Two of the team’s promising young players, Sam Glass and Owen Dick, held their nerve and put on an unbeaten partnership of 34 for the last wicket to defeat Saintfield by one wicket at Eaton Park.
Ballymena lost the toss and were asked to bowl by the travelling captain. Matthew Purse and Owen Dick started a little loosely with the away team racing to 42 runs off six overs before Purse took the first wicket as Michael Glass took a catch at mid-off.
This heralded a fine spell of medium pace bowling with Purse having fine figures of 10 overs, 4 wickets for 25 runs. He was supported by 16 year old Owen Dick who is finding his feet at this level and bowling with venom.
This opening pair between them took 5 wickets and left the away side at 57 for six but with their professional Ramanayake still at the crease. He fell to the accurate bowling of Fergus Taylor and a superb catch from James Kennedy running towards the boundary. This left the tail open for Sam Glass to pick up two late wickets and the innings closed on 111 after 38 overs.
Michael Taylor opened the home side’s innings with confidence and the chase started in fine shape until James McClean fell. This started a collapse of drastic proportions. When Taylor fell to a catch behind for 26 the team was close to panic and soon found itself 79 for nine with plenty of overs remaining.
This brought Owen Dick to the crease to join Sam Glass at the wicket but despite their tender years, Saintfield were met by two young fearless players determined to take on the task at hand and win the game. Owen played the more attacking shots and Sam played a very straight bat in solid defence.
They showed great maturity in blocking the good balls and attacking the short delivers and a hush developed over Eaton Park as the total passed 100 and all of a sudden victory looked a distinct possibility. Fours for each batsman brought the total to 109 and all results possible. Thankfully, for all the Ballymena fans watching, the Saintfield bowler pitched one down the leg side and Sam clipped it for four. The home side rose to acclaim the efforts of the two young cricketers who pulled a drastic situation round full circle to a glorious rear guard victory.
Sam and Owen along with all present will not forget this match in a hurry after a win that lifts the home side off the foot of the table.