Middle Road, 8th July 2017
The 3rd XI again ended up on the wrong side of a high-scoring encounter, this time at Middle Road against a strong Carrick side.
Losing the toss and invited to field, the opening bowlers struggled to contain the attacking Carrickfergus openers, conceding 28 runs from the first four overs. Only the introduction of the veteran Harry Cook stemmed the flow of runs and his spell of 6 – 2 – 15 – 0 was an object lesson in accuracy and control. With Matthew Bell finding the target with two good balls, the visitors’ hopes of restricting Carrick to an achievable target were raised, but the introduction of Carrick skipper Murdock soon saw the run rate rise again as a combination of some inconsistent bowling, hard hitting and a fast outfield proved hard to defend against. Three late wickets for Creases junior and senior helped take some of the gloss from the Carrick innings, but their final tally of 195 – 5 from their 30 overs was always going to be a stiff test for the Ballymena side.
In response, the Ballymena innings got off to a poor start with skipper Crease falling cheaply in the third over, swiftly followed by Tanna. Once again the focus turned to Jeff Martin who, as ever, looked composed and fluent as he compiled 29 runs in quick time. Harry Cook was next to fall, albeit in mysterious circumstances, with debate raging as to whether he was bowled, caught behind or indeed not out at all! Nevertheless he departed the scene, to bring Calum Crease to the middle who was then joined by James Hunter when Martin was surprisingly out bowled. Together they put an end to the tumbling wickets, but with the required run rate steadily increasing, the win was looking increasingly unlikely. By the time Ryan Crooks came to the wicket victory was out of sight, but his belligerent innings showed what might have been as he cruised to a rapid 47 not out. With Adam Wilkins bravely coming in to bat at 11 with an injured finger, the Ballymena side were able to bat through to the end of their alloted 30 overs, finishing 44 runs behind on 151-9.
After a series of difficult away fixtures, the Ballymena side will be looking forward to playing at home in their next match against Armagh on 22nd July in the hope that they can improve their league position with a much needed win.