This weekend sees a return to a full round of action in the IBI Corporate Finance Cricket Leinster Premier League, with last week’s curtailed single-fixture round ending with a no-result between Malahide and Clontarf by virtue of the weather.
CLONTARF VS BALBRIGGAN
Top of the table visits the current bottom side as Castle Avenue plays host to Balbriggan. Clontarf have won just two games so far this season and will be desperately hoping to build some momentum in the side, especially having already made their way to the Alan Murray Cup Final.
The home side will be hoping that their re-jigged batting order which worked to great effect against Merrion a couple of weeks ago can once again bare fruit, David Vincent’s first senior century at the top of the order giving him the chance to begin to forge himself a path at the top of the order for his side. When Ruan Cronje, PJ Moor and David and Eoghan Delany are added to the mix, ‘Tarf boast a top 5 that not many bowling attacks in the league would enjoy facing up to. Their own attack is perhaps one of the only which would, with David Delany and Mick Granger providing good new ball threat, followed by teenager Luke Thomson’s medium pace and then a spin attack loaded with variation between David Vincent, Cillian McDonnell and Cronje.
Balbriggan meanwhile come into the game on a slightly middling run of form, after opening the season with 5 wins on the bounce, they’ve lost two of their last three games and seen their previously wide margin art the top of the table eroded down to just one win. They remain with the relatively stable side which they have boasted throughout the majority of this season so far, opting to retain spinner Malcolm McGregor in the side in support of Dylan Lues, whilst their seam attack of Ryan Hadley, Andrew Darroch and Kashif Ali will hope to trouble ‘Tarf’s top order with the moving ball. With the bat, Connor Fletcher and Ghanim Dara will have their work cut out at the top, however their foundation will be vital for the free flowing pair of Chris de Freitas and Greg Ford to be able to put together a decent total for the away side.
Connor Fletcher being in the runs has tended to be a good omen for Balbriggan this season, if he can get through the opening spell of Mick Granger, it’ll be a big win for the away side in terms of their chances with the bat in this game.
KEY BATTLE: Mick Granger vs Connor Fletcher
MALAHIDE VS MERRION
Having just pulled themselves out of the relegation zone with their win in the last full round of fixtures, Malahide face a tough ask against second-placed Merrion on the international ground, however the home side will come into this game at near enough full strength. Their batting will centre around Ryan Hackney who has glued the side together throughout the season, his influence will allow Matt Ford, Arjun Muntha and potentially young Aaron Doyle to play with the freedom they prefer through the middle of the innings. With the ball, Mike and Ali Frost will add to the bowling attack significantly, however it’s the new ball bowling of skipper James Newland which has been eye catching throughout most of this season, himself and David O’Halloran will be key with the new ball for the home side in this fixture.
Merrion on the other hand have been in fine form of late, thanks in no small part to the form of their classy top order batsmen. This weekend they’ll be without half of their opening pair as Stephen Doheny is unavailable, with an added emphasis put on the impact of Jack Carty as a result. Swapnil Modgil and John Anderson will provide support in the middle order, however, Merrion’s form outside of their opening pair this season has been relatively inconsistent, so they will be hoping the opportunity to take a chunk out of Balbriggan’s lead will provide the perfect tonic to kick their middle order into gear for this weekend. With the ball, Muhammad Sinan and Hugh Kennedy have formed a wicket-taking opening pair over the last few weeks, with support from Jack Carty, it’s then the Merrion left-arm spin trio which will hope to capitalise on any mistakes the Malahide middle order may make, with Amish Sidhu, Tom Stanton and Danny Forkin all providing good options when called upon to turn their arm.
Malahide’s Ryan Hackney has been the main man in their batting line-up for a number of weeks now, and they will once again be hoping he can put together a good innings, if he can get past the opening Muhammad Sinan burst, it will stand the home side in good stead to put together a strong innings and put Merrion’s batting line-up under pressure.
PHOENIX VS YMCA
The Phoenix Park plays host to a huge game between 5th and 7th in the league, as YMCA make the trip aiming to not get dragged into a relegation battle with this weekend’s opposition. The visitors boast a formidable looking top four, even in the absence of their international stars, with Jack Tector and Mitchell Thompson two players who have the ability to bat for long periods of time and make big scores, Thompson notably made a century in this fixture last season. Whilst Tim Tector and Adam Rosslee have both shown excellent form for the Leinster Lightning in the last number of weeks. With the ball, Mikey O’Reilly will lead the attack, with Rory Anders providing more wicket-taking ability alongside the consistency of Padraic Flanagan, there’s spin in the form of Thompson’s leg-breaks, as well as left-arm options in Jamie Forbes, Aaron Bailey and Tom Johnson, in an attack which offers plenty of variety to skipper Tim Tector.
Phoenix will again be without their star man, in-form Lightning skipper George Dockrell, with the Irish team away in Bristol for the international series against South Africa, with their team as yet to be confirmed however that is the only definitive piece of information available, they will be looking to skipper Tyrone Kane to lead the way with both bat and ball, following on from some excellent showings in low scoring games over the last number of weeks. If Oliver Hald is returning from Denmark duty he would be a big boost to the side with both bat and ball, whilst another appearance for Ruadhri Smith would also be welcome for the park side. With the bat, Adam Chester, Nicolaas Pretorius and Will Bennett will be three men who the home side look towards for a base and quick runs.
The YMCA opening batters had a fine day out the last time they visited the park, and Mitchell Thompson will be hoping he can build another strong innings in this game. Tyrone Kane’s opening spell will aim to be the thorn in the side of the YM top order, and the battle between that two at the beginning of the innings will go a long way towards deciding the momentum of the game.
KEY BATTLE: Tyrone Kane vs Mitchell Thompson
PEMBROKE VS THE HILLS
The sides in third and fourth in the league face off at Sydney Parade, with just 7 points between the teams going into this fixture, both will see it as a crucial game in an effort to keep tabs on the two sides above them in the league. Pembroke are without all of their internationals for this tie, so will be looking to Theo Lawson and Poonish Mehta to once again lead the way with the bat. Diarmaid Tucker has been in excellent form at the top of the order this season and he’ll be the man they hope to get them off to a good start. With the ball, Pembroke are spin heavy once again with Gavin Hoey’s leg-breaks, Paul Lawson’s off-breaks, and Donncha Tucker’s left-arm orthodox offering a good variety. Whilst seamers of Poonish Mehta, Joe Prendergast and Piyush Sharma will aim to keep it tight against a strong Hills top order.
The away side have been strengthened hugely by the return of Murray Commins in the past few weeks, with the newly qualified Irishman slotting back in seamlessly at the top of the order. Cormac McLoughlin-Gavin and Mark Donegan provide two other solid options in the top three, if that three can build a good base, it will allow middle order men Dylan Blignaut and Levon Shields to add impetus with their powerful boundary-laden style of batting. With the ball, Blignaut will look to keep up his excellent form so far this season alongside Tómas Rooney-Murphy with the new ball, whilst Ash Bain and Sam Smyth are the other seamers in the side, Jonathan Tall and Athar Farooqi offer off-spin from either arm, whilst Shields’ leg-spin has also been shown to good effect previously this season.
The return of Murray Commins to The Hills line-up has significantly bolstered their top order, he will face up to a tough task in the shape of Poonish Mehta, but if The Hills get through that spell unscathed, it will give their batters an excellent chance of putting together a good score.
KEY BATTLE: Poonish Mehta vs Murray Commins