Northern Ireland Association of Cricket Umpires and Scorers

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Victory for NIACUS in the White Stick Trophy

After an interlude in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic NIACUS and LCU&SA locked horns again at Ringcommons CC with the former seeking to retain the trophy but on this occasion without inspirational skipper, Michael Foster, who was unavailable. On what turned out to be a beautiful sunny autumnal afternoon, it was stand-in skipper, Ronnie Balfour, who won the toss and chose to insert LCU&SA so his team knew what they needed to chase. Led by skipper Will Houston, LCU&SA fielded a much changed line-up with Wijesundera (Sun) the only other survivor from previous games after Willie Clarke's unfortunate late withdrawal.

LCU&SA started cautiously with Billy Adams and late call-up, Paul Black, bowling a tight opening spell before Adams made the early breakthrough with Shapon (2) dismissed after a stunning one-handed grab by Carl Williams with a salmon-like dive at gully, which deservedly secured him the prize for Champagne moment, leaving the score 8 for 1 after 4 overs. Kumar and Kumar Malik after an initial period of consolidation then put together an excellent partnership for LCU&SA playing some classy shots all around the wicket and punishing any wayward deliveries. The LCU&SA score had moved into the 80's after 16 overs when Kumar (40 no) was retired followed soon after by his colleague Kumar Malik (40no) to give others some time in the middle. Skipper Will Houston and Eoin Crossen had taken the score to 100 when Carl Williams bowled Crossen (2) who also snagged Mackey (1) and Yalamuru (5), both caught & bowled, in an excellent spell (6-0-15-3) which helped pull things back for NIACUS. The returning Adams then dismissed Vaidya (12) finishing an excellent spell of 6-1-18-2. With skipper Will Houston (32) and Sun (2) run out in the last over the innings closed on 168 for 7 off the allotted 30 overs, a competitive but certainly not unsurmountable total. The other NIACUS bowlers - Paul Black, Adam Gardiner, Jonny Kennedy, Gareth Morrison and Ronnie Balfour - toiled hard albeit without success with Black and Gardiner in particular unfortunate finding the edge and beating the bat on a number of occasions. Dessie Milne performed well behind the stumps with an injured Brian Alexander also deserving of a mention for bravely putting his body on the line for the NIACUS cause.

NIACUS openers, Gareth Morrison and skipper Balfour, knew a solid foundation was essential but with almost a run a ball required they also couldn't be overly cautious. Both took advantage of any wayward deliveries picking up boundaries as the score reached 31 when Morrison (12), after a couple of particularly stylish boundaries, was bowled by Sun at the end of the 6th over. Jonny Kennedy joined Balfour and both continued to play positively and the score had reached 71 when Kennedy (16), who played some very classy strokes, was caught by Kumar off Vaidya. As so often happens the fall of one wicket is followed by another and with only 1 more run added to the total Balfour (32 with 5 boundaries), who was struggling with a hamstring injury, was run out failing to make his ground when called through for a quick single as LCU&SA sensed an opportunity to get back in the game. Black and Williams found it hard to keep the scoreboard moving in the face of tight bowling from Tiwari and Vaidya with the former dismissing Black (2) and Williams then falling soon after to Yalamuru (5) as the NIACUS total had reached 102 for 5 after 20 overs helpfully boosted by extras. With LCU&SA perhaps slightly in the ascendancy Adams decided to attack striking a number of boundaries and was well supported by Warren McCully, who became the 2nd victim of the 'hamstring sniper', which necessitated the introduction of a runner. This vital partnership took the score to 147 when Sun bowled McCully (12), which included one glorious David Goweresque cover drive. Again one dismissal was followed by another as Richard Campbell (0) was a bit unfortunate to be caught in the covers off his first delivery giving Sun his third victim. But with the match still delicately poised with the potential to go either way it was eventual Man of the Match, Billy Adams with a few final hefty blows which took him to 48no, ably supported by Adam Gardiner (7no), which saw NIACUS home to a winning total of 170 for 7 off the 2nd ball of the 28th over. So a hard fought but just about deserved victory was secured in what was one of the most competitive games in recent years that was played in great spirit with the game of cricket the real winner. So the White Stick Trophy heads back up North for another year and roll on 2022!