Cork Cricket Club

Cork County seal opening win of the 2011 campaign

Cork County began the defence of their Munster Division 1 title with a tricky home fixture to 2010 surprise package, Limerick Raiders. Both sides had enjoyed some memorable encounters during the 2010 season which culminated in a thumping 10 wicket victory for County in the Munster Senior Cup final. The fixture also marked the first chance for new skipper Bruce Koch to lead the side out in a competitive fixture. The Mardyke side also welcomed all-rounder Sidhz Joshi back after two years away in India and wicketkeeper Shannon Madden after his return from a season in Australia. Ross Durity was missing due to exam commitments and overseas player George Barry would not be available until the May bank holiday weekend.

The early start to the 2011 season was reflected in the wicket at the Mardyke which proved to be low and slow in the April conditions so the toss would be crucial to the outcome of the game. Raiders captain, Azeem Khan, duly won the toss and put the home side into bat. Des O’Leary and Madden opened the batting for County as they endeavoured to get the innings off to a steady start on the slow wicket. O’Leary made some typical lusty blows down the ground as he attempted to prevent the Raiders opening attack from settling while Madden sought to work the new ball and take advantage of the gaps in the field. Madden’s innings was ended by an excellent catch by Shani Alam at silly mid off the bowling of Azeem. Robert Duggan joined O’Leary at the crease and both tried to consolidate the innings and get to grips with the slow pace of the wicket.

Seemingly in control, O’Leary momentarily lost concentration as he was adjudged stumped after he left his crease having mistakenly thought that the ball had beaten the wicketkeeper. The dismissal of O’Leary brought the captain and 2010 Munster Player of the Year, Bruce Koch, to the crease as he looked to establish a solid partnership with Duggan and give some momentum to the County innings. The Limerick side knew that Koch was the key wicket if they were to upset the home side. Koch as usual looked at ease in the middle until he inside edged a short delivery which stayed low onto his stumps. Koch’s dismissal was greeted with great joy by the Raiders players. Chris Banon replaced Koch at the crease and played a number of nice shots down the ground and to the leg side before veteran Shani Alam got one to beat his outside edge and knock his off stump. County were now in trouble with four wickets down and required a big partnership from experienced pair of Duggan and Andrew Wootton. Duggan began to play his shots as he had adapted to the pace of the wicket. His progress was halted, however, after he was struck flush on the foot by a yorker from seamer Usman Khan which x-rays later confirmed had resulted in a broken toe for the number three batsman. Distracted by the injury, Duggan was soon clean bowled by Khan and Raiders could sense an upset on the cards.

West Indian all-rounder Andrew Saul replaced Duggan and looked to accelerate the run rate with typical West Indian gusto. Saul’s brief cameo was ended when he was out to a good catch on the boundary at long on. Sidhz Joshi joined Wootton at the crease and began to work the ball around with his trademark craft and skill. As he adjusted to the conditions, Joshi soon expanded his shot play with some impressive sweeps and drives through the covers. Joshi was ably supported by Wootton until his demise when he was adjudged LBW by umpire Michael Hickey to a ball from off spinner Aftab. Big hitting Darren Fogarty joined Joshi in the middle and both steered County towards a respectable target, both began to pierce the Raiders ring field at regular intervals. Joshi was spectacularly run out on 45 by some sharp fielding by Alam off his own bowling. Matt Reed soon followed after a mix up between the wickets with partner Fogarty. Fogarty then was the final wicket to fall with the score on 162 after he was caught in the deep by Usman Khan.

With a target of 163 to win, Limerick Raiders required a solid start and to see off the ever threatening bowling of Bruce Koch and Andrew Wootton. Koch began his spell bowling a great line and length and with some excellent pace. The Raiders opening pair of Azeem Khan and Khuram Javid found the going tough with the ball whizzing past the outside edge of the bat on regular occasions. Wootton finally made the breakthrough by clean bowling Azeem by getting one to nip back in off the seam. Wicketkeeper Mohammed Faizan was in at three would he too found the going tough with Koch now in full flow and getting the most from the wicket. Faizan was adjudged LBW after he was trapped in his crease due to the extra pace of Koch (3-30). The other opener, Khuram Javid, was slowly beginning to adjust to the conditions and began to play some expansive shots down the ground and pounced on anything short. First change bowler, Matt Reed, was on the receiving end of some big hitting from the Limerick Raiders opener as Khuram dispatched one or two deliveries onto the Mardyke.

Khuram continued to lose partners as the experienced number four, Shani Alam, was also trapped LBW by a delivery from Wootton. Sohail replaced Alam in the middle and he was determined to get his free flowing partner on strike as much as possible by nudging and working the ball into the gaps. However, Khuram then fell victim to a good catch on the long-on boundary from substitute fielder Ashley Jones off the bowling of Reed. The fall of Khuram gave the home side real confidence that they could go on and complete a comprehensive victory. Masroor Ahmed soon followed and he was replaced by the big hitting Usman Khan. Usman and number eight batsman Aftab Ahmed and both establish and threatening partnership, both complimenting perfectly. Usman proved the power and boundaries while Aftab ably manoeuvred the ball around to keep the scoreboard ticking and providing Usman with the majority of strike.

For Cork County, off break bowler Andrew Saul was now dominating the Limerick side with some excellent line and length, giving the Raiders’ batsmen no width to free their arms. Saul finished his superb ten over spell with figures of 1-14 with no less than seven maidens. Left armer, Sidhz Joshi, and off-spinner Ciarán Healy also combined to frustrate the Shannon siders as County sought to break the partnership of Aftab and Usman. The reintroduction of skipper Bruce Koch finally saw the removal of Usman who was tricked by a well disguised slower ball from the quickie and provided Healy at mid-off with a comfortable catch. The big wicket of Usman was soon followed by Aftab who was trapped LBW by Joshi. With the Limerick Raiders slowly edging towards the target of 163 for victory, the home crowd began to get a little nervous. However, the league holders showed great character and nerve as they picked off the final two wickets of Sajid Javid and Qasim Zaidi. Zaidi was the final wicket to fall to a great catch at slip by Andrew Saul off the bowling of Joshi (2-22).

The tightly contested match was the perfect opener for the Mardyke side as embark on a huge season for the club. Local rivals, Cork Harlequins, are next up on Monday May 2nd in Munster League Division 1 before the first Leinster league fixture against Terenure at the Mardyke on Saturday the 7th May followed by the eagerly anticipated Irish Cup tie away to Eglington in Derry on Saturday May 14th. It all bodes well for another hugely exciting season at the Mardyke.

Cork County 162 all out beat Limerick Raiders 152 all out by 10 runs at the Mardyke. scorecard

Cork County: B. Koch*, C. Banon, R. Duggan, D. Fogarty. C. Healy, S. Joshi, S. Madden+, D. O’Leary, M. Reed, A. Saul, A. Wootton and A. Jones (12th man)

Limerick Raiders: A. Khan*, S. Alam, U. Khan, A. Ahmed, F. Bhagat, M. Faizan+, M. Sharif, M. Ahmed, K. Javid, S. Javid, J. Arshed and Q. Zaidi

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