PREVIEW: North West Warriors v Northern Knights (IP50)
With disappointment over the opening encounter of the Test Triangle Inter-Provincial Cup on Tuesday being abandoned without a ball being bowled due to a wet pitch, fans will be keen to follow the on-field action in the second scheduled encounter between the two provincial sides from the North.
With an extra day of drying, and sunnier conditions expected at La Manga Club, expectations are set for an interruption-free match.
The two sides – North West Warriors and Northern Knights – both finished last season’s Cup competition with one win apiece, well behind champions Leinster Lightning. With the Lightning side just as strong, if not in better shape, the clashes between the Warriors and Knights become must-wins for respective teams if they wish to challenge for the Cup in 2019.
The match will also see the much-anticipated Northern Knights’ debut of Gary Wilson after his return to Belfast following 12 seasons playing English county cricket. Wilson has recently recovered from an eye condition that kept him out of the recent international tours to Oman and India, so will be keen to get back on the field in this big year for Irish cricket.
Irish Test and ODI captain William Porterfield, who finished second in the 2018 Cup run-scoring charts (219 runs with a highest score of 110*) for the Warriors, has now served his one-match ban for a disciplinary infraction in 2018 and will be keen to get back in the runs after a lean tour to India for the recent Afghanistan series. Not surprisingly, fellow Irish international Boyd Rankin – playing his first full-time season with the Warriors, will also be looking to make his mark prior to international selectors meeting in coming days to consider the Irish squad for the England one-day international.
Northern Knights’ Harry Tector, who hit the third highest individual run tally in the Cup in 2018 (171 runs at an average of 57.00) – including an 84 against the Warriors – will be looking to continue his good white-ball form. Also, expect all-rounder Shane Getkate to press his white-ball credentials forward. After barnstorming performances for the Ireland Wolves against Sri Lanka A with back-to-back fifties in January, he made his full international debut in February against Afghanistan and demonstrated his obvious talent with both bat and ball. His all-round abilities may become a real asset for both Knights and Ireland in 2019.
Key battle – Knights bowling unit v Warriors top-order
In the first 50-over encounter last year between the two sides, the Warriors top order powered the north-west side to an eight-wicket victory led by an unbeaten 110 by Porterfield, who featured in a 158-run opening stand with David Rankin.
However, in the reverse fixture two months later, the Knights bowling unit skittled the Warriors for just 139. Despite limping to a two-wicket victory, the match demonstrated the depth of bowling talent the Knights possess, and on their day can match the strong Warriors batting line-up.
North West Warriors: Andrew McBrine (captain), Ross Allen, Andrew Austin, Andrew Britton, Aaron Gillespie, Graham Kennedy, William McClintock, William Porterfield, Marcus Poskitt, Boyd Rankin, David Rankin, Stuart Thompson, Craig Young.
Northern Knights: Gary Wilson (captain), Harry Tector (vice-captain), Neil Rock, Marc Ellison, James Shannon, James McCollum, Shane Getkate, Mark Adair, Robert McKinley, James Cameron-Dow, Graham McCarter, Jacob Mulder, Greg Thompson.
Watch our video