Mixed Weekend for the Firsts

Downpatrick were greeted to Upritchard Park by one of the best wickets in the NCU, as well as a pristine outfield that was recently undergone drainage work to ensure it endures the inevitable mid-season deluge. Once again, Stephen Burns’ work did not go unnoticed as both teams made it clear that they wanted to bat first if the coin fell their way.
Fortunately for home skipper Chris Burns, Downpatrick captain Ross Boultwood called incorrectly, allowing Bangor to make first use of the surface that looked like a German motorway; so well maintained, so flat, and so fast. The only thing quicker was the Bangor start as Burns went about showing everyone his immense talent. His partner, Nicky McCollum, had the best seat in the house for the first 16 overs as Chris hit boundary after boundary, each speeding to the boundary like a Supercar on the aforementioned Autobahn. McCollum had the odd moment of aggression too, hitting a 47m six off Boultwood.
The dismissal of Burns for a blistering 58 brought Nixon to the crease causing the run-rate to slow as he and Nicky went about rebuilding the innings. The slower bowlers of Downpatrick were certainly more difficult to get away, with the Bangor batsmen McCollum, Nixon, McCusker and McLarnon all supporting Burns with scores of around 40. Bangor finished on 234-7; yet another score of over 220 to make it four in a row for 2018.
After a high carbohydrate tea, necessary due to the energy-sapping sunshine that bathed Upritchard park, was logged into MyFitness Pal the Bangor outfit went about defending the par score against an experienced side. Khan was first to strike, trapping Mullan LBW for 9, before removing Boultwood for 2; a day he would rather forget. At the other end, Prince was keeping it tight with his wily away-swinging deliveries. He is perhaps the most improved cricketer in the BT19 area over the last 12 months which is very pleasing for the Bangor faithful. Wickets continued to fall, as youngsters Simpson and Pyper dismissed batsmen over twice their age showing their incredible promise.
Unfortunately for Bangor, their thorn in the side, as it so often is, was Craig Boultwood who batted with skill and maturity, rotating the strike with ease. For every ounce of talent and power Burns possesses, Craig matches it in experience and maturity. Craig finished on 87* to round off a 3 wicket victory for Downpatrick.
Bangor CC 1st Xl v Derriaghy CC 1st Xl, Section 1. Sunday 27th May, 2018.
Bangor hosted their second game of the weekend, this time against table-toppers Derriaghy. The visitors, who have gotten the better of Bangor in recent years arrived buoyant off the back of cup success against rivals Lisburn CC, further demonstrating the tough task the home side had ahead of them.
Once again, Bangor won the toss and elected to bat on the same wicket at the day previous. Bangor spoke prior to the game about being 30 runs light on the Saturday due to their batsmen failing to capitalise on positive starts. The onus was on a big score.
Mirroring the cup match, Bangor openers Burns and McCollum got off to a rapid start, this time with McCollum finding the boundary with regularity. Indeed, the latter became the first man in history to hit a one-bounce 6. Bangor were 73 after 9 overs before Nicky fell LBW to spinner Bailie for a well-made 27. By this stage, Burns was seemingly hitting maximums at will. Fielders looked scared, bowlers looked petrified, umpires took four steps back, neighbouring houses protected their windows; he was hitting it hard and far.
Burns brought up his second 50 of the weekend with a typically towering 6 that ricocheted off the tiles at Upritchard Court like a pinball. Fortunately for Bangor, Burns had a lot more credit in the machine as he continued to punish anything remotely loose. His partner, Nixon, was intent of giving back the strike to Burns much to the delight of the generous crowd that had gathered to witness the spectacle. Nixon brought up his own 50 with a lofted drive over mid-off, bringing the score to 160-1 after 25 overs. A score in excess of 300 looked on the cards.
A huge roar was heard when Burns reached three figures; surely one of the most destructive hundreds ever played by a Bangor batsman. Chris was unfortunate to fall with his score on 111. Nixon was joined by Khan who perished for a well-made 23 looking to emulate some of the hitting of Burns. In form McCusker joined Nixon just in time to watch the latter dance past a straight one from Moorhead, stumped for 94, but with 4 overs left and the score on 281, Bangor were still in the ascendency. McLarnon and Patterson hit some very fine shots to bring the Bangor score to 303; a tough chase for any side.
After some light refreshments, Derriaghy openers Bailie and Kenny strode to the wicket knowing they had to score in excess of 6 per over from the get-go. At 19-0 after 8 overs, it is as if they didn’t get the memo that there are no draws in Section 1 cricket. That is perhaps a little unfair to the pair who had to face Khan and Nixon who were giving away very little on the flat deck. The bowling pair combined for the first wicket, as Bailie edged a drive to Khan at first slip; 9 more wickets to get Bangor were thinking.
Nixon soon bowled Adams for duck, and then had Kenny LBW for 16 to leave The ‘Aighy 30-3 after 12 overs. Prince replaced Nixon and continued to build pressure, having Jennings caught at long off for 15; 65-4. Prince then struck twice, removing Bell before the huge wicket of Lewis was taken, clean bowled.
At 93-6, with over 200 runs still to get, Bangor seemed to take the foot off the petal allowing Scott Hughes and Jamison to notch up scores of 48 and 54 respectively. When Prince and Khan removed the pair, it was a case of when and not it, as Bates ran out last man Wayne Hughes for a duck to seal a 60 run win. Prince and Nixon finished with 4 well deserved wickets, but on another day, Josh Bates could have taken even more as he passed the edge with incredible regularity.
The win puts Bangor into joint second, with the prospect of Laurelvale visiting next week, it is not one to miss.

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