Diarmuid Carey’s 43 with the bat and 6-31 with the ball, combined with excellent knocks of 69 (Seanan Jones) and 59 (Stephen Black) helped the Southern XI to a commanding 50 run victory over the NCU in CIYMS on the first day of the 2018 U17 inter-provincial tournament. This propelled the Southern XI to the top of standings in this year’s tournament following a victory over Leinster 3 weeks ago.
Like all inter-pros, the first day began with an early morning start. However, unlike other years, the sun was shining and the weather is set fair for the entire week. After a victory over Leinster three weeks ago, the Southern XI should have been feeling confident but in their way today was a strong NCU side who had also won their first game (vs NWCU) and whose team had won the corresponding fixture in the U-15’s competition two years ago.
The first thing evident upon arriving at the ground this morning was the sight of a used wicket and a rock hard, rapid outfield. With the sun also out in force, it would be a long toil in the field for whoever had to bowl first. The wicket was clearly going to deteriorate for the second innings, making the toss crucial. Jones called correctly and his delight was evident as he shouted “we’ll have a bat” and ran off gleefully to his team. The Southern XI had the advantage but the pressure was now on to make use of the good batting conditions at their disposal.
After a quick start, the Southern XI were 16-2 after 3 overs, with Allison accounting for McDonough and Archer early on. From that point, however, the Southern XI dominated. The NCU bowlers were consistently off with their lengths which Black (59, 9 fours) & Jones (69, 8 fours & 1 six) picked off with ease. Black drove well, bisecting mid-off and cover with high frequency. Jones accumulated singles and used his strength to put away the bad ball, highlighted by a big six over the mid-wicket boundary. Neither the seamers nor the spinners could gain any control and as both players brought up their fifties, it seemed as if nothing would unsettle them. Then at 122-2, Black missed a sweep off Malone and was bowled. Suddenly the NCU had an opening they could try and exploit.
However, what followed was almost the complete opposite. Carey (43, 4 fours & 1 six) joined Jones and the two Corkmen proceeded to take the game to the NCU. Their partnership of 55 came at a run a ball and was highlighted by two lovely reverse swept 4s by Jones, and a couple of extra cover driven 4s by Carey, followed by a 6 for Carey over cow. After 34 overs, the Southern XI were 175-3 with a score of 300 on the cards if the Munster lads kept going. The break seemed to rejuvenate the bowlers and there was a marked improvement in their line and length. A couple of overs later, Jones walked past a ball from Glass and was stumped. Soon after Carey was bowled by Simmonite. From then on, the innings faltered a little and the boundaries became harder to come by. Askew hit a quick-fire 27 (2 fours & 1 six), while some good running and poor fielding helped the Southern XI finish with a highly competitive 259 all out. Allison was the pick of the bowlers with 4-43 off his 9 overs. It was a good comeback by the NCU, who would have fancied themselves as a batting team to begin with. However, with runs on the board, the scoreboard pressure and deteriorating wicket would surely give the Southern XI a good chance.
The NCU seemed to quell some of the Southern XI’s hope with their opening stand. Jones and MacNulty bowled solidly, but Warke (29, 5 fours) & Metcalf (33, 5 fours) set the NCU off at a good pace. Their opening stand of 69 in 15 overs was highlighted by exquisite drives to the cover fence. They showed that the wicket was still a good track and the Southern XI struggled to pile on pressure. Captain Jones opted to turn to spin. McDonnell (1-29) was tight from the outset, bowling with flight and providing good control. Carey was the more aggressive of the pair, pitching the ball quite full which was greeted with a meaty shot over extra cover for four in his first over. However, both bowlers were extracting variable bounce and spin from the pitch and Carey’s second over produced a double wicket maiden. Metcalf pulled a shorter ball into the hands of deep mid-wicket and then two balls later, Warke was beaten in flight and skied a catch straight to mid-on. McDonnell then had Clarke flick a ball to the man at short mid-wicket and next over Malone hit Carey straight to the man at deep mid-wicket. 69-0 had suddenly become 76-4.
Burton and Hunter then started to rebuild for the NCU. They put on 40 with ease as Jones rotated his spinners looking for a break through. Just as the NCU looked set to dominate, however, a mix-up led to both batsman ending up at the same end and Burton was run out for 25. Jones brought Carey back on and his first over accounted for Reid. Once again the NCU were in trouble at 118-6. 139 more runs were still required from the final 18 overs. Hunter (68, 9 fours) and Glass started to chip away at the deficit as the Southern XI brought back in the seamers. On this variable bouncing pitch, this provided a relief from the spinners and the batsmen very quickly settled and started finding the boundary. Some poor fielding and well-timed shots brought the game back into the balance. With 10 overs to go, the NCU required just 81, with two well settled batsmen at the crease and a quick outfield at their disposal.
Carey, with two overs left, was brought back for his third spell. Once again, he struck early as he spun one past Glass’s advancing feet to have him stumped and complete his five wicket haul. In his next over he tossed one up to Hunter who could only find the safe hands of long-off completing his excellent bowling display with 10-2-31-6. MacNulty (1-37) and Jones (1-47) then put the game beyond doubt with an excellent display of the death bowling. Their yorkers were almost unhittable and they each took a wicket at the death to finally bowl the NCU out for 209, a victory by 50 runs.
After two matches it leaves the Southern XI on top of the standings with 2 wins, ahead of Leinster & NCU with 1 win each. The final 50 over game is tomorrow against the NWCU before the T20s commence on Thursday. It was a great all-round team performance by the Southern XI, exemplified by the runs from Jones, Black & Carey and the wickets spread amongst nearly all the bowlers. A special mention must also be made about the superb catching display throughout their bowling effort. But in the end, the day belonged to Carey whose 6-31 was the highlight of a great win.
Source: Cian Carey for www.cricketeurope.com