Saintfield Cricket Club Gets Set For New Season

the wicket-taking delivery, batsmen relentlessly focussed on ball after ball, all working collectively in pursuit of victory. Some 145 years later little appears to have changed at ‘The Demesne’, as the home of Saintfield Cricket Club, rated as one of the best cricket grounds in Northern Ireland, gets ready to host another season of high quality, competitive cricket characterised by gentlemanly repartee and the odd cream-tea! 1st XI Preview The 2010 season saw the 1st XI secure their position in Section 1 of the NCU with a solid mid-table position. While this met the minimum performance level for the team it was a frustrating season where victories over teams such as Bangor were followed by disappointing losses when the team were in strong, winning positions. The ability to take control of games, especially when in winning positions will be a key indicator of how well this young Saintfield team is progressing. The 2011 season sees the 1st XI being skippered by Ray McCavery. All at the club will be hoping his experience and calm hand will be invaluable in getting the best out of the talented young squad slowly being assembled. Having skippered the team in 2005 Ray has witnessed first-hand the development of many of the young players and is ready to get them working well as a unit. Ray said, “We have a number of quality young players like Ian McGowan and Ali Graham who we’re hoping will step up to the mark this year as well as several such as fast bowler Mark Yeates and top order bat Gareth Harrison who have been performing well for a number of seasons. My aim is to get all of these young guys and our experienced players playing at their best week in and week out. “If they can do this our ambitious aim of a top two finish is well within our grasp, especially with the new players signed during the winter”. Indeed, along with Ray all at the club are hoping the exciting new signings of leg-spinner Andy Magennis and wicket-keeper Adam Jamison, both quality bats, will add even greater quality, experience and variety to the Saintfield 1st XI.” There will be an expectation that skipper Ray McCavery scores some valuable runs this season to assert his aim of leading by example. He added, “My aim is to lead by example and scoring some runs is the best way to do this.” He is also hoping that his senior players will replicate their form from seasons gone by and he’ll be looking to the experience of Billy ‘Bumper’ Dale, Philip Murray and John ‘Wheels of Steel’ Wheeler to take key wickets while keeping it tight. “We really need our experienced players to take responsibility in key situations and also to help the younger players, but I’m especially keen for former skipper Richard Owens to recapture the form of previous seasons as all throughout the NCU know what a threat he can be.” Ray is also increasingly aware of how the 1st XI’s fielding improved markedly last year and he is looking to build on this solid platform. “We’re a solid fielding unit, but we can still improve and keeping it tight in the field and supporting the bowlers can have a huge bearing on the outcome of games especially from winning positions”. Most intriguing though is the return from semi-retirement of former skipper Mark McBriar. Ray said, “Of course everyone at the club is delighted that Sparky has decided to return and we can’t wait to see him tearing right through opposition top-orders!” The good news does not stop there! Saintfield Cricket Club is delighted to announce the signing of right arm spinner and top order bat BJ Barnett from New Zealand as our overseas professional for the 2011 season. A high quality spin bowler and top order bat, on the verge of first-class cricket in New Zealand, BJ Barnett arrives full of promise. A full profile of BJ can be found later in the season preview. With such developments it is therefore understandable that the 1st XI approach the 2011 season with a quiet confidence. They will be aiming to get the season off to a strong start as they begin their campaign with a tough, must-win fixture against local rivals Downpatrick at the Demesne on Saturday 30th April. All at SCC wish Ray and his team well for the forthcoming season and every success.]]>