South African overseas professional Obus Pienaar had quite the first season back in the Northern Cricket Union, helping CIYMS win a club-record four trophies.
Pienaar, who had previously spent two seasons in Northern Ireland with Waringstown and also enjoyed time in Leinster with Clontarf, won’t return in 2020 after it was announced he will be joining Lancashire League outfit Lowerhouse.
The 29-year-old helped the Belmont side to defend their Robinson Services Premier League crown while also adding the Gallagher Challenge Cup, Lagan Valley Steels Twenty20 Cup and a first ever All-Ireland T20 title to the club’s ever-growing trophy cabinet.
Looking at the statistics, Pienaar scored 749 runs in all competitions at an average of 53.50 and also collected 28 wickets with best figures of 6-29 against Muckamore in July.
“I really enjoyed my season at CIYMS,” he said.
“I enjoy the people in Northern Ireland and it was good to catch up with some old friends.
“It was obviously a very successful season for us and I don’t think they should take it for granted, because no matter how talented the team is, it’s always hard to be consistent and be up for the game every weekend even when you sometimes play three games in a weekend!”
If you take batting averages from just the Premier League and Challenge Cup, no one averaged more than Pienaar (66.12) from his 13 innings in which he scored 529 runs.
He was well-known for his scoring power after smashing a record 244 against CIYMS back in 2011 for Waringstown in a season where he averaged 100 and followed it up with another 800 runs in 2013 at The Lawn.
This season ranks just behind those two in terms of runs, but such was the form of John Matchett and Chris Dougherty at the top of the order, there wasn’t much left to do for Pienaar when he came to the crease on many occasions.
“I’m happy with my performance,” he added.
“I obviously would have liked to have done a bit better in some games, but that’s how cricket goes.
“Most of the games I wasn’t really needed as the top three did the job.”
Many believe that the standard of cricket in the top-flight is better now than it has ever been with the star-studded line-up’s some clubs have put together, but how does 2019 compare to six years ago?
“I think the standard has definitely got better since my last stint,” said Pienaar.
CIYMS will have started their hunt for a new overseas professional as they look to be as dominant again next season and go in search of a maiden Irish Senior Cup title.