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Sandy Bay, 24th June 2017

Ballymena batting sets up convincing win at Larne

 A strong Ballymena batting performance, backed up by some good bowling, was enough to secure victory for Ballymena over Larne.

Batting first by the seaside, the Braidmen started positively. Openers James McClean (who finished with 43) and Jack Gibson (10) played their strokes from the off, putting on an opening stand of 47 off 11 overs.

Once Gibson fell LBW, captain Stephen Colgan (57) came in at 3, and both he and McClean continued to bat positively. Being made club captain has coincided with Colgan finding the batting form of his life – he bludgeoned the Larne bowling to bring up a fine half century.

Strong performances were also put in by John Glass (48) and vice-captain William Montgomery (22). Some lusty late hitting from Simon McDowell (8), Anthony Frazer (9*) and Owen Dick (8*) meant Ballymena closed on 266-8 off 50 overs – an excellent total, on a ground where it was hard to hit boundaries.

In reply, Larne fell some 63 runs short, in the face of determined work by Ballymena’s bowlers.

Openers Owen Dick and Anthony Frazer knew that Larne would have to play positively from the start, and both bowlers were able to keep calm in the face of some strong hitting from the Larne batsmen. Dick finished with figures of 10-0-1-51, while Frazer was particularly impressive, bowling his 10 overs straight through and picking up 3-49 – as well as taking a superb catch at a crucial moment.

Sam Glass (10-1-34-1) bowled another excellent spell, and deserved more wickets, while fellow spinner Simon McDowell (7.2-1-2-42) bowled with great composure, despite being hit for a few sixes. Jack Gibson came on as 5th bowler, and hurried the Larne batsmen in a spell of 6-0-2-26.

For captain Colgan, it was another excellent performance from a young side that is growing in confidence.

He must surely take great pride, not just in his own continuing form with the bat, but with the emerging talents of young batsmen John Glass and James McClean. Glass is cementing himself as a batsman of real calibre, while there are encouraging signs that the hugely talented McClean is starting to find his feet at senior level.

Alongside this, the bowling of Sam Glass provides Colgan with a weapon few other sides at this level can boast – a true wicket-taking finger spinner. Sam provides control in the middle overs, but has the ability to bowl unplayable deliveries, and his bowling received plaudits from several of the Larne players.

Ballymena’s win takes them to 4th in the Senior 2 table – a strong platform upon which to build a charge for the top. They next face BISC at home, on 1 July.