Upritchard Park, 24th June 2017
On a weekend when player availability was at an absolute premium, the 3rd XI travelled to Bangor with only 9 players and were always up against it in the face of an experienced home side.
Losing the toss, the Ballymena side was invited to bat first and the openers, skipper Crease and young Paddy Browne, set about their task with resolve and were able to see off the opening bowlers with few alarms, taking the score to 28 after 8 overs. Indeed the first wicket didn’t fall until the 13th over, when Browne, who is rapidly developing a reputation as something of a limpet, pushed a drive cleanly back to the bowler to fall for only 2 runs with the score on 34. Once he develops some scoring shots to add to his defence, Paddy will undoubtedly become a force to be reckoned with at the top of the order. The departure of Browne heralded a minor collapse with first Crease, for 23, and then the experienced Martin, for only 2, falling in consecutive overs to leave the score at 47 for 3 after 15 overs. At the point, the Ballymena side’s hope lay with young Josh Drain who again showed his talent with a range of crisp, clean shots until falling to a good catch in the covers for 23. With the remaining batsmen offering limited resistance, the away side were soon all out for 78 runs.
With only 9 men, and the consequent gaps in the wide expanses of Upritchard Park, 78 was always going to be a challenging total to defend. The bowlers were unable to make any inroads as the Bangor openers calmly picked up singles and hit the occasional bad ball for four. By the time the first wicket fell in the 11th over to the impressive Drain, the score had already reached 65 and the game was all but over. With young Andrew Lawthor bowling well on his 3rd XI debut, the Ballymena side were able to delay the inevitable for a few overs more, but the end came after 13 overs with the Bangor side recording a straightforward 9 wicket victory.
Next week sees a difficult trip to Comber to play North Down 3rd XI. The 3s will hope to build on the positives of the past few weeks as they search for another victory to help push the side further up the Junior 5 league table.