Our second preview of the week comes from the IBI Corporate Finance Championship, which also kicks off on Saturday with a full round of fixtures.
Both Phoenix & Pembroke make their return to the IBI Corporate Finance Championship based on relegation from the Premier League at the end of last season. Pembroke were particularly adversely impacted by limited availability of key players in 2022.
Both clubs will be looking to start strongly in their opening clashes as part of a concerted effort to achieve promotion back to the Premier League at the first attempt.
The tie at the Phoenix Park will be particularly intriguing as Civil Service will be making their Championship debut in the most local of derbies.
North Kildare will be hosting Terenure at The Maws in their opening Championship fixture. Both clubs have had a challenging early season T20 campaign and will be targeting this fixture as a must-win.
Meanwhile North County will be hosting Rush in the Championship on Saturday (3rd) and in the National Cup just 24 hours later on Sunday (4th) - so lots at stake in this local Fingal derby double at Inch.
PHOENIX VS CIVIL SERVICE
We kick off the weekend’s previews with one of the most localised derbies in cricket, as Civil Service make the commute a few hundred metres along the Park to visit Phoenix.
Civil Service are sure to relish the return to red ball cricket, having won the Division 4 title so convincingly last season, their side is full of players who’s skills, with the ball in particular are far better suited to the red ball game than the white. Mubasher Siddique and Naveed Khan are two bowlers who will look to find some good lateral movement. They will be backed up by Aamir Bafanda and Muhammad Safeen, whislt Arjun Chandrasekar will be the fifth bowler in the line-up. With bat in hand, whilst there is the benefit of it being their stronger format last season, the Service top order will need to overcome the higher skill set of the Championship bowlers with the red ball. Phoenix’s bowlers are one of the most skilled in the league, and that will mean a greater challenge for the likes of Ramji Padmanaban, Srikanth Boddu and Rajath Parashurama at the top of the order for the newly promoted men, if they can get through the new ball period it will allow their middle order to try to capitalise on the less experienced bowlers.
Phoenix meanwhile are a side that will no doubt be full of confidence that it can bounce straight back from it’s relegation, and will be eager to get off to the best possible start in this campaign. Their bowling unit including captain Tyrone Kane, Danish-man Oliver Hald and Jed Wiggins boasts a tough trio for any side to deal with, before mentioning their returning men in Theo Dempsey who is back having represented Dublin University, or Ben White who has missed some of the season on international duty. They can also call on the seam bowling of Ashley Bain, or leg-spin of Levon Shields in what is an attack with more than enough options for this early season encounter. Whilst the side will certainly be without the batting skills of George Dockrell this weekend, they will surely hope to see Adam Chester return, with the batsman having missed the opening month of the season due to rugby commitments. Stephen Black is another man returning to the club having represented Dublin University and will add to the batting line-up, whilst Wiggins and Kane will also likely occupy positions in the top 4.
This game could be over in a flash if Phoenix’s new ball bowlers can get on top of Service, Tyrone Kane has been producing spells which blow away Premier League top orders for a number of years, and if he can get rolling with the early wicket of Srikanth Boddu, it will put Phoenix right on top in this game.
KEY BATTLE: Tyrone Kane vs Srikanth Boddu
PEMBROKE VS CORK COUNTY
Two sides set to become the best of enemies this weekend firstly face off in Sydney Parade on Saturday, before the Sandymount side then travel to Cork for their Irish Senior Cup tie on Sunday. Pembroke see skipper Theo Lawson back into the side after he didn’t take part in the Alan Murray Cup games this season, whilst the side’s spin bowling stocks suddenly look completely full again, with the return of Gavin Hoey from Dublin University, whilst Fiachra Tucker is back after his time away from Ireland. Alongside Paul Lawson the side now has three bowlers who are all excellent operators at this level. There’s also a four man seam attack, with Nick Stapleton and Barry McCarthy supported by left-armer Zach Micklewright and right armer Joe Prendergast. With the bat, Tucker and Lawson both returning to the side are massive boosts to the side, adding depth to the line-up which will likely see Stapleton accompanied at the top of the order by Diarmaid Tucker, there’s then JJ Garth, Hoey and McCarthy who will occupy positions in the middle order, in a team which genuinely bats all the way down to number 11 this weekend.
Cork County on the other hand have quite a number of new faces in their line-up this season, meaning they are a little bit of an unknown quantity, particularly having not played in this season’s Alan Murray Cup. Diarmuid Carey captains the side this season, and his left-arm spin will be important this weekend in the absence of Abubakar Siddique, he’s supported in the spin department by leggie Nabeel Anjum, whilst Byron McDonough will lead the seam attack having returned to bowling last season. The batting line-up will be led by opener Syed Aiman, whilst gloveman Benji Marris will continue with his attacking style this season. Stefano di Bartolomeo and Matthew Spanner are the two main unknowns in the side, and Cork County will need that pair to have a big impact on the side if they are to defeat Pembroke, who undoubtedly enter the opening weekend as many people’s favorites to win the league title.
The return to the side of Dublin University skipper Gavin Hoey is a massive boon for Pembroke, his bowling against the Cork County middle order will be vital to restricting them. If he can knock over Benji Marris, it will put his side right on the front foot against this largely unknown Cork side.
KEY BATTLE: Gavin Hoey vs Benji Marris
NORTH KILDARE VS TERENURE
This is a repeat of the final day of last season, where Terenure pulled off an excellent win to pull themselves away from the relegation zone. This weekend they return and in stark contrast to their opponents, have retained essentially the exact same team from last season, even adding depth to it. They are another side to see a key batter return this weekend, as Henry Dall is back having been injured earlier in the season, and he will join a batting unit which features some in form players in the shape of Séamus Lynch and Raghav Grover, whilst skipper Dónal Lynch has also been in the runs earlier in the season. Donal Vaughan rounds off a strong top five for the away side. With the ball, Grover took more than 40 wickets in the 2022 season, and will be aiming for another big haul this year as well. The seam bowling stocks could also see the likes of Bhavic Tukrel, Hilal Asad or Kripesh Shetty all called upon at some stage in the game, with each of them offering varying pace, swing and seam movement options.
North Kildare on the other hand will be looking to a wildly different crop of players to the ones who finished the season out last year, that game saw overs bowled by 5 bowlers, only one of which, Husnain Maroof, is likely to feature in this weekend’s game. Yashraj Mate, Wasif Ali, Samran Patel and Akilesh Sharma are all men who have featured in the attack this season, however Ali is the man with by far the most experience at this level in the side, and he will likely be an important cog in the bowling attack. With the bat, the experienced captain Sayed Shah is the main 50 over player in the top order, whilst Maroof can supply some more attacking stroke play in the middle order, alongside Josh Uddin who will certainly play through his full array of shots as well. Samran Patel, Chirag Chowdhury and Badeeu Zaman have also been men occupying slots in the top 6 this season and they will need to produce some runs to give their bowlers any chance this weekend.
Given the lack of depth in the NK bowling line-up, the opening spell will be crucial for them, if it is Yashraj Mate who takes the new ball, his spell to the returning Henry Dall will be vital in terms of restricting Terenure’s ability to set a platform for its ball-striking middle order.
KEY BATTLE: Yashraj Mate vs Henry Dall
NORTH COUNTY VS RUSH
The second of two fixtures which will be played twice this weekend, Rush and North County have had something of contrasting fortunes in the off-season, and even early this season, when it comes to their squad depth. Rush’s batting line-up is powerful, and has been strengthened by the addition of Cian Egerton, whilst Subby Ramnathpur and Prasanth Viswanath have also transferred back to the club this week ahead of the beginning of the league campaign. That on top of the retention of Llew Johnson as overseas player, which has already proven to be an excellent signing, the return of Nathan McGuire for the full season, and captain Neil Rock, gives the impression of a relatively impenetrable top 6 which will be very strong this season, Egerton is not in the side this weekend however, and the transfers of Ramnathpur and Viswanath are yet to go through, therefore the regular top three will need support from Jack McGee, Aaron McGuire and Jarred Barnes if they are to produce an imposing total for their hosts to have to deal with this weekend. Barnes will lead the bowling line-up, with seamers Allan Eastwood and Asher Abbasi also likely to play a big part, whilst the skipper Nathan McGuire will be the frontline spinner in the side this weekend.
North County’s excellent business in signing Simi Singh at the 11th hour this off-season was dealt a hammer-blow a couple of weeks ago, when the Leinster Lightning man broke his thumb on IP50 duty, ruling him out for 4-6 weeks of the season, and whilst skipper Sean Sludds may well have been tearing his hair out with that news, he will have been delighted with the way the likes of Jonno Andrews was able to step up to the plate in the T20s after the injury to Singh. Niall McGovern at the top of the order will enjoy the move to 50 over cricket, whilst Eddie Richardson, John Devane and Luke Whelan are all players who’s batting styles can be better suited to this format than the T20 style. Tanvir Hasan came into the side this season appearing to be set to play second-fiddle to Singh, however he will now be the main spinner in the side, he’ll have the unenviable task of following up the opening spells of speedsters Ghaffar and Sattar, as well as the tricky movement which Richardson is able to extract. Sludds himself is likely to round off the bowling attack with his medium pace in what is a relatively strong bowling attack.
The County bowlers will be acutely aware of how important the Rush top three are, this weekend as much as any before the cavalry arrives to back them up. Therefore the spell of Eddie Richardson to the big hitting Kiwi Llew Johnson is likely to be the point in the game where it is firmly won or lost.
KEY BATTLE: Eddie Richardson vs Llew Johnson
FIXTURES JUNE 3RD
Phoenix v Civil Service (Phoenix Park)
Pembroke v Cork County (Sydney Parade)
North Kildare v Terenure (The Maws)
North County v Rush (Inch)