Curtain set to rise on a busy domestic season

Lawrence Moore looks forward to the start of the new season:

The new cricket season is set to get underway on Saturday and a few days’ ‘drying wind’ would come in very handy between now and then as grounds try to recover in time from a very unsettled spell of weather.

It’s a busy start too, with full programmes in each of the two new Premiership sections on Saturday followed 24-hours later by eight T20 double headers as a crammed schedule welcomes in what looks likely to be a competitive summer.

Champions Ardmore start off the defence of their first ever top-flight crown as they welcome Coleraine to the ‘Green on Saturday. The home side are again captained by Rachit Gaur, however they have opted against bringing an overseas player, albeit Haydn Melly comes in from Brigade.

Coleraine have added Indian all-rounder Madhav Kaushik as well as two very useful local recruits in Lee Ritchie and Craig Averill and this is no easy start for the champions.

Once again, a lot of eyes will be on Andy Britton’s Beechgrove side who also have a tricky start away at Eglinton.

Brigade have gone with an overseas player this year- former Burndennett professional Marcello Piedt has joined the Limavady Road side, although Ryan Macbeth is without doubt a big loss for them.

Lahiru Dilshan replaces Mike Erlank for Jamie Millar’s team while the impressive Liam Doherty returns for a second season at the village club.

Bready host a Killyclooney side who will be desperately hoping that new signing Jamal Anwar can go some way towards clawing back plenty of Blayde Capell’s 1700 runs from last summer.

Anwar has been in the North West before, having had a stint at the Rectory a few seasons back, but he has a leading role to play if the Tyrone side is to survive in the top flight.

The final game in Premiership 1 is potentially the match of the day as Newbuildings go to Donemana.

The Holm side have named Sri Lankan all-rounder Rumesh Buddika as their overseas man for 2024 and they have also added genuine quality in former Bonds Glen skipper, Raymond Curry.

Jordan McGonigle’s retirement leaves a gap in the spin bowling ranks, especially with Andy McBrine likely to be required for representative duty for much of the summer, but whatever the problem, Donemana usually find a solution.

Gareth McKeegan’s visitors have lost Johnny Thompson to retirement and they too have a new overseas player in Indian batsman, Samarth Seth.

In what is a difficult game to call it is probably worth waiting to see the respective teamsheets before sticking the neck out here!

Section 2 sees St Johnston host Ballyspallen with both clubs by and large working off the same squads as last year.

Bonds Glen had been dying to sign overseas man Divan Posthumus and the South African will face The Nedd in his first game in the region.

The Ballykelly boys will certainly bring their own identity to the senior ranks again and they’ve added the experience of former Eglinton man Richard Jimmy ‘Fish’ Wylie.

There’s nothing surer than The Nedd causing a few upsets along the way this summer.

Game of the day in the division sees the local derby between Fox Lodge and Strabane.

Aaron Heywood’s side was probably unlucky to miss out on the top eight last year and with Gayan Maneeshan back in tow, they’ll be among the favourites for top spot this time.

Similar comments apply to Strabane however- Nasir Nawaz is back at the Park and with Kevin Gallagher taking the captaincy allowing Aaron Gillespie to concentrate on his batting, the Red Caps look a threat to all.

Burndennett host Glendermott in Saturday’s final senior game- the home side remain unchanged from last year while the visitors, back under the captaincy of Alan Johnson, have added Sri Lankan Malinga Amarasinghe as well as popular North West bowler Trevor Britton.

A reminder that games will still be 40 overs a side with 12 noon starts this season.

Also a reminder that the Best Western White Horse Hotel T20 Group games start on Sunday with a full programme of double headers.

Eight venues will host two matches each- one at 12 noon and one at 4pm with the full fixture list set out below.

 

The Weekend fixtures in full-

 

Saturday

Long’s SuperValu Premiership Section 1

Ardmore v Coleraine

Bready v Killyclooney

Eglinton v Brigade

Donemana v Newbuildings

 

 

Premiership Section 2

St Johnston v Ballyspallen

Bonds Glen v The Nedd

Fox Lodge v Strabane

Burndennett v Glendermott

All above matches to be played over maximum 40 overs; start time 12 noon

 

Sunday

Best Western White Horse Hotel T20 Cup (Group stage)

At Ballymagorry- Fox Lodge v The Nedd (12 noon); Fox Lodge v Killyclooney (4pm)

At Strabane Park- Strabane v Ardmore (12 noon); Strabane v Eglinton (4pm)

At Bready- Bready v St Johnston (12 noon); Bready v Ballyspallen (4pm)

At Beechgrove- Brigade v Coleraine (12 noon); Brigade v Bonds Glen (4pm)

At The Rectory- Glendermott v Bonds Glen (12 noon); Glendermott v Coleraine (4pm)

At The Holm- Donemana v Killyclooney (12 noon); Donemana v The Nedd (4pm)

At Bonds Glen- Newbuildings v Ballyspallen (12 noon); Newbuildings v St Johnston (4pm)

At Burndennett- Burndennett v Eglinton (12 noon); Burndennett v Ardmore (4pm)

White Horse Hotel

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