Apologies for the absence of the column for the last few weeks, which have been quite busy, so for a change TWILC becomes TMILC (This Month in Lisburn Cricket) as we recap on the action over the last 4 weeks or so.

Going back then to the last weekend in May, and this was the date which Graeme “Ducky” Browne had highlighted in bold in his cricketing diary, the day that he made his return to Wallace Park for the first time with his new club Instonians. In truth, it turned out to be a fairly low key event for both Ducky and those who had assembled to see his return (when I say assembled, I refer to Billy Gallagher in his buggy, and a couple of vaguely interested bypassers who took in a bit of the game). There really were only a few points of relative interest to note from the game – one of Ducky’s teammates had a training shirt on with the word “anorexic” on the back, which led one Lisburn wag to comment that the guy in question had hardly nicked it from Ducky’s kit bag, the former LCC “all-rounder” having not quite shed the winter coat for the game; Ducky’s batting, which for followers of twitter would have delighted Fred Boycott as he came to the crease and basically erected a fortress around his stumps – clearly determined not to be dismissed by a Lisburn bowler, he batted about 10 overs for 7 runs, played and missed with alacrity, and played a number of textbook forward defensive shots that he rarely employed for his former club, before all his hard work was undone by his mate who sold him down the river and ran him out; then finally, Ducky’s efforts in the field – he actually bowled OK without threatening to take a wicket (standard) and then dropping a catch (again, standard) much to the amusement of the home side. Ah well, sure it was nice (sort of) to see him back and he probably enjoyed the limelight thrust upon him.

The tea that day was the first of many provided by Glen Halliday’s mother and to say it was sumptuous would be underplaying things. It was a quite marvellous spread, one which had a certain now former Ulster rugby player and LCC cricketer in a state of ecstasy as he simply refused to sit down and hovered/hoovered around the table. Indeed, well into the teabreak he was still to be seen sampling the delights on offer, at which point Mrs Halliday herself opined that Dizzy would be sick to which the big man replied “no way, and I haven’t even started on the buns yet”. Super stuff from Mrs H and the Exeter bound Diz.

On the field, there was a runaway winner of the Monty on the day, the award going to the skipper, Glenda, who spilled two routine chances (off yours truly) at mid off, the second of which in particular was a dolly. It was a sign of things to come……..

The next weekend, we took in no less than 3 games, with the 2s travelling to Ards for the Junior Cup, followed by hosting Donemana in the Plate and Ballymena in the league. It was the editor’s first trip to Ards, and it isn’t actually a bad wee place to play, and for most people with a semblance of intelligence, fairly easy to get to. So when a frantic phonecall was received from Mark Berry indicating that he was in Comber and wasn’t sure how to get to the ground, there was no panic from the lads at Londonderry Park, who provided him with the simple directions for his approximately 10 minute journey from there to the ground. About half an hour later, Dingle junior finally showed up (having missed his slot in the batting lineup), the talented young batsman clearly not as adept at cartography as he is cricket. Anyway, the game itself was fairly eventful. The Ards lads were really up for it, giving plenty of chat to the batsmen (most of it awful) and they would have been cock a hoop at tea after dismissing us inside 35 overs for just 150 as some of our boys decided that the only decent thing to do with half track cack was to give catching practice to the fielding team. However, their excitement wasn’t to last, as their batting in many ways resembled their on-field banter, and they were routed for just 76, leaving the 2nd XI mascot, Maurice McDevitte, the only LCC member to have come to a 2s away game this season, a very pleased man.

I missed most of the action on Sunday, having formed a view that 3 games in 3 days would (1) most likely leave me crippled for a week and (2) would at the stroke of a pen wipe out my entire bank of Brownie points with the Mrs. So instead I brought the tribe down to the game for a while before having to take them to (another) feckin kids party (while the Mrs was meant to be marking exam papers, which was most likely code for sitting in the back garden with a glass of wine). However, in the limited action I saw there was a fine knock by AA Routefinder Berry, who stroked a classy 56* against the opponents from Donemana and some decent bowling (which I missed) from Diz, James McCallan and Catko, back in the saddle again after his university exploits. And it was great to see him back in the fold, as he bowled well on Saturday and Sunday, giving club professional Darryl Brown a glimmer of hope that he will collect on what most neutral observers consider to be an ill-advised wager with 2nd XI keeper Ellers that Catko will be bowling at 80mph before the end of the season. While perhaps not quite reaching that velocity at the weekend (Maurice was guessing at late 60s, which we thought was charitable), he did bowl rightly on his first game for a while, and we were looking forward to seeing him again on Monday against Ballymena.

Unfortunately, this didn’t come to pass. On the morning of the game, the poor wee lamb cried off with a combination of a sore tooth and shingles, a mixture of medical conditions that you don’t see everyday. He indicated on the phone that he was in a bad way, and would require relatively urgent medical intervention at the local A&E, so it was with some surprise that we welcomed him down at the Park on Monday afternoon. It was more of a surprise when he stayed there for the entire day, later announcing that he felt much better and wouldn’t require emergency assistance after all. Some of the less charitable members of the team suggested that he had a combination of two X chromosomes in his genetic makeup, but maybe the poor wee lamb wasn’t feeling 100 percent, so lets give him a break. Diddums. The game itself turned into a 6th straight win for the rampant seconds, and featured a first ever ton for Doggy. He batted very nicely indeed, albeit with just a touch of fortune along the way. He was dropped early on (not straightforward) but when he had reached 48, he gave perhaps the simplest chance in the history of local cricket. Trying to work the (slow) medium pacer to leg, he got a leading edge that looped back to the bowler. It is difficult to present in words just how slowly the ball went back to the bowler, who couldn’t even employ the excuse that he was still in his follow through and therefore slightly unbalanced, but whatever the circumstances the ball simply went straight through his hands and to the amazement of all, including Dogg who had almost begun his trudge off, he spilled it on to the turf. The Dogg didn’t require a further invitation as he progressed to his landmark, though this only came after he had most probably broken the world record for the amount of time spent in the nervous 90s.

When he reached 90, a text was sent to club Chairman, and father of Dogg, Deano, indicating that his son was close to three figures. That text was sent at 14.18 BST. At 14.50 BST, Dogg finally reached his ton after progressing to the landmark with 10 singles. To be fair, he wasn’t helped in his endeavours by his batting partner, Dingle Senior, who showed a very skilful method of counting to six, but in the final analysis, I doubt he gave a feck as he finally got there for a well deserved maiden century.

For the weekend, an award of the Monty was a close run thing. It was tempting to award it to the skipper Glenda again after he spilled yet another chance (off me again) but it wasn’t in the same league as the dolly that Ian “the sun was in my eyes” Glass grassed off young Ryan Moore. He did manage to make up for it later with a good over the shoulder grab that was about 10 times more difficult, but he was the week’s Monty. Jonty probably went to Berry Senior, who had been getting plenty of ribbing during the game with the lads calling his brother the BetterBerry, but he showed that he can still bowl taking 4 wickets, 3 of which were caught and bowled, and for the 3 return chances (one of which at least was pretty sharp) he edged the award for the week.

On then to Ballymena on Saturday past, the only game to be played by the club on what was another wet Saturday, and we welcomed back to the fold Wonkle, who was eager to get back into action, and doubly eager as it was against his former club. Employing local knowledge to good effect, and acting as the team’s translator, Wonkle was thrust into action early doors as we batted first. Having posted scores of 14,13,12,11 and 10 for Lisburn since his arrival in the winter, Wonks was understandably anxious about the possibility of being dismissed for 9 on this occasion. Despite advice from his teammates to simply make sure he didn’t end up on 9, the landmark was reached and his sympathetic mates (well me actually) were quick to let him know. After having a couple of Orangemen on the Falls (nervous looking prods) he finally got the countdown monkey off his back by hitting a two to move to 11 and duly raised his bat to the assembled masses (when I say assembled masses, I refer to 2s mascot Maurice and a couple of Ballymena 1s players who had come down to take the p*ss out of Wonkle).

We went on to win that game pretty comfortably, with Suffy ever so slightly edging the man of the match award with 78* off about 60 balls, followed by 4-15 in 10 overs, and a couple of catches thrown in for good measure. The Monty for the weekend – had to go, I am afraid, to you know who. I think he has finally got the message that mid off is not his position……..

Finally, on to this weekend just past, which was, unfortunately, a wipeout just about for local cricket. With Wallace Park making the newsline twitter feed for a photo taken of the place being flooded, there was never really much chance of cricket being played on Saturday. However, there was a bit of action on Sunday as the artificial wicket was employed for a fun game of sixes to celebrate the 30th birthday of Boothers (yep, he really is only 30!). In a game that saw Ireland take on England(though Boothers had to play for Ireland as we only had 5, and the English team didn’t want him), the match was decided by one moment, one which will no doubt resonate in the Booth family for some time. With 5 runs being deducted for a wicket falling, team Ireland lost to team England by…… 5 runs with the telling statistic in the scorebook reading R Booth b A Booth – a fitting finale for Fathers Day seeing son skittled by father in what was an afternoon of good banter for all involved. Lets hope this weather improves and all teams get back to winning action soon. This is TMILC………..out.

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