Nasser Hussain was heavily criticised for electing to bowl at the Gabba in 2002, but the decision for Lurgan captain Johnston to do the same at Upritchard park runs a close second. Bangor were playing their first T20 game of the season, hoping to continue their scintillating form that has entertained the crowds who have arrived in their droves.
With regular opener Nicky McCollum away at a Ralph Lauren fashion show, Andy Nixon slotted up a place allowing him the privilege to stride out with on-fire captain Chris Burns. Bangor got off to the best possible start as Burns and Nixon peeled 19 runs off Maxwell junior; they didn’t relent. The partnership was broken with the scoreboard reading 105 after only 8 overs, when Nixon drove Maxwell senior firmly to cover for 40. The pair were dismissive of the away side’s attack, as even Nixon hit a 6 into the houses at Upritchard court, much to the annoyance of fellow nurdler McCollum, who was juggling the catwalk with video calls from the game.
Burns was joined by Khan, with a clear instruction to continue the tour de force that had gone before. Burns had passed 50, for the 4th time this season, with a series of slog sweeps that ricocheted off the Boston Pavilion faster than a Zach Kerr line break. It was a joy to watch a batsman riding the crest of a wave. Khan read the script perfectly, giving Burns the strike as often as possible, whilst also hitting the odd boundary to continue the momentum, before falling for a well-made 27. With 4 overs left, Bangor were already on 170-2, as Burns was continuing to show his immense power and talent (I could copy-paste this from any week’s report) to the healthy crowd who were enjoying a cold refreshment and a BBQ generously put on by Chairman Chris Escott and his committee.
New club member Andy Woods joined Chris just in time to witness another huge six, this time the one that brought up his three figures. This was history being made for Bangor CC as no batsman had reached that milestone in the shortest form. Luckily for the home side, Burns and Wood were not done as they batted for red ink by depositing the remaining 3 overs for 50, as Burns finished on a remarkable 137*, and Bangor 239. I think Johnston was heard saying ‘I made a huge mistake’.
Johnston, and newly arrived professional Karanjkar, ambled to the crease knowing they needed exactly 12 an over, or 2 runs per ball to record an unlikely victory. They were on target after 0.1 overs as Khan found the edge that travelled to third man for a brace. That was the only time the Tigers were in the chase. Nixon had Johnston brilliantly caught by Groffith behind the wickets. Groffith was standing in for McLarnon who was away ‘with work’ (his 78th stag do in an illustrious stag career). Bowlers Khan, Prince, Kwelu, Miller and Simpson all bowled well restricting Lurgan to 130-4 in a very one-sided contest.
Bangor will face the winners of Cregagh and Holywood in the next round of the T20 Trophy.