SUNDAY saw Millpark First XI travel to Saintfield for their Senior Two fixture.
Millpark have recorded a win and tie in two tight matches so far this season, but know that Saintfield is a ground where often in the past they have come off second best.
Although it is early in the season, this Millpark team looks like a good unit which is performing well together. The mood is optimistic at Banford Green, and there are hopes that this will prove to be a very positive season. The First XI is looking fairly settled and is pulling together impressively as a unit.
Batting first on an excellent wicket, openers Aaron Robb and Charlie McCrum again got their team off to a good start, going through to another half century opening stand, before McCrum was bowled for 19. McCrum has been the mainstay of both Millpark innings so far this season, and his dismissal brought an important test for his teammates - to take the innings on through the full 50 overs.
Third man in, Darrell Martin, continued the good work with Robb, before he was out for 15. Ben Talbot followed cheaply bringing key man Stephen Leckey to the wicket. Saintfield had slowed the scoring rate at this stage, but Robb kept his head down and went through to his first half century of the season, before he was out to slow left armer Campbell for a vital 57.
Leckey was starting to accelerate by now, and had been joined at the wicket by Davy Glover. Glover went for a quickfire 12, and Stu McCart and Leckey saw the innings through to its conclusion as Millpark ended their 50 overs on 201-5. Leckey made an impressive 57 not out, McCart finishing on 7, and the team had indeed comfortably batted out the overs.
In three matches, Millpark have now accumulated over 600 runs, and batted out their overs on each occasion. This represents a major improvement on last year.
Saintfield’s innings opened with Stephen Leckey producing what must surely have been one of his best spells of bowling for his club. He bowled with genuine pace and controlled aggression. His first six overs went for 13 runs, eight of which were streaky edges through the slips. That he did not take a wicket in this spell was scarcely credible.
At the other end Darrell Martin was showing his usual excellent control, his first six overs going for just 14, and including the wicket of the dangerous Owens.
Millpark’s control of the match continued as Davy Glover and Charlie McCrum bowled excellent line and length - Glover finished with 3-30, including the vital wicket of new Saintfield pro van Neikerk, caught by Johnny Breen. McCrum took the important wicket of opener Sims for 46.
Stu McCart and Skipper Jason Maxwell came on and although Saintfield did somewhat get back into the game at this stage, they had used a few valuable overs, and McCart had taken the wicket of Stewart for 51. He was caught by keeper John Simpson who had another good game behind the stumps.
Leckey and Martin then came back for their second spells and the control returned. Leckey got the wicket that his man of the match performance had warranted, having Campbell caught at point, the catcher again Johnny Breen.
The Saintfield innings petered out as two run outs contributed to their being all out for 176 in the 49th over. Millpark had run out worthy winners by 25 runs, their most comfortable victoryof the year. Skipper Maxwell was delighted with his team’s performance, and can justifiably be pleased with how his first season in charge has begun.