IN REVIEW: North Down captain Marty Moreland steps down from first XI duty after 23 seasons

After 23 seasons playing first XI cricket, North Down captain Marty Moreland has decided to step down from top flight action.

Since 2006, only Waringstown’s Gary Kidd (367) has taken more wickets than Moreland (362), and he will retire from 1st XI duty having picked up seven Challenge Cup titles and has won the Premier League on nine occasions.

The Comber-based club finished sixth after picking up 20 points from 14 games (5 wins, 6 losses, 3 no results), and reached the final of the Twenty20 Cup before a seven wicket loss to Waringstown.

Here, Moreland reflects on the 2018 season, looks back at his career and names who his replacement will be.

How do you feel the 2018 campaign went?

It wasn’t that good to be honest. We started well, but we should have done better. We had three void games which doesn’t help.

What do you put the poor season down to then?

We just weren’t consistent enough. The talent is there, but we just weren’t consistent enough with bat and ball.

A major positive was the form of Ruhan Pretorious though wasn’t it?

He is a fantastic professional. I think he is the best in the league. He scored over 1000 runs for us this year and took over 30 wickets, so he certainly performed.


Ruhan Pretorious

How important is it that Ruhan has re-signed for the 2019 campaign?

He is very important. We are going to be minus a couple of guys next season I would imagine.

You have announced that you are going to retire from 1st XI action. Did you just feel it was the right time to step down?

Yes. It is something I had been thinking about for a while.

When you look back on your career, are you happy with all you achieved? You won a lot of trophies.

Of course. I am very happy with it. The only thing that disappoints me is that I never won the Irish Cup with North Down. That’s the only negative thing.

You have played in some fantastic teams down the years.

I played in some great teams. Taimur Khan was probably the best player I’ve played with or against. When he arrived over in his first few seasons, Taimur was very good.

Who will be taking over now?

Alistair Shields will be taking over. He looked after the Twenty20 stuff this year and last year, so he has done a bit already. He has matured a good bit and is scoring runs, so he is a good person to step into the role.


North Down finished sixth in the Premier League in 2018

Do you feel the team are in a good position to achieve big things in 2019?

The team is young enough, so it’s just about them getting the consistency. The talent is there, it’s just using it week in, week out, which has been a problem for the past few seasons. You would be looking to see if they can get any new faces, so you never know what will happen over the winter.

Are you looking forward to dropping down to the 2nds?

When I was on the 1sts and not starred, I always played when I could for the 2nds because I enjoyed it. I am looking forward to it. There are three or four young guys that are 15/16 that need to push on, so hopefully they can do that. The 2nds are back in Junior One, so it will be a good standard playing against guys who have been there and done it. Hopefully we can win a Junior Cup!

CSNI’s Aaron Wright preparing for winter Down Under

Even though the NCU season is done and dusted for 2018, CSNI batsman Aaron Wright won’t be getting much of a break as he is preparing to spend the winter with Merbein South Cricket Club in Australia.

It was a campaign to remember for the 21-year-old, playing in his first Challenge Cup final against former club Waringstown, and there is no doubt that it has left him looking to perform in those occasions with regularity.

He also made his First Class debut for the Northern Knights against the North West Warriors in the Interprovincial Championship, showing the improvements he has made in his game over the past couple of years.

Here, he speaks about his upcoming trip, his season with CSNI and much more.

You’re off to Australia in a couple of weeks time. Are you excited for the opportunity?

Yeah, I really can’t wait. It’s two weeks until I leave now. Cricket season has just finished, so I get a short break then straight back into it.

You went to New Zealand last winter. How did you find that experience?

New Zealand was fantastic. It hardens you as a person and as a player. When you’re playing cricket, they don’t really rate Ireland as a nation so you hear everything about ‘What are you doing here?’ and things like that! You also have to look after yourself in your personal life. You have to wash, cook, clean etc and it makes you a better person.

Did you find your game had improved a lot after playing in New Zealand?

That was my first year at Civil Service, so going from Junior One to the Premier League would have been a massive jump. This probably reduced the jump in standard, and it was pretty even in terms of quality.


Wright in action for CSNI against Instonians in the Challenge Cup semi-final

You now have another season of Premier League cricket under your belt. Do you feel better for it?

Definitely. Up until I broke my finger, I felt as good a player as I had ever been. When I broke my finger, that sort of set me back a bit and I felt I didn’t have as good a end to the summer as I should have had.

Was the broken finger a big issue to overcome?

Whenever I came back, I was always thinking about it and if it could get hit again. It wasn’t fully recovered. I had to come back because I was worried about not getting picked for the Challenge Cup final, so I came back a few weeks prior. I probably shouldn’t have came back until the final itself, but it was definitely worth it.

That was your first Challenge Cup final. Was it enjoyable even though it didn’t go your way?

What a day that was. From the build-up all week to the day of the final – it was incredible. To watch Marc Ellison, Andre Malan and Adam Dennison play on the big stage was absolutely incredible. Unfortunately I didn’t do too well myself!


Wright during his time in New Zealand

Getting to play with the likes of Ellison and Malan must help you a lot?

Yeah It’s fantastic. To work with those two is so good. Marc is a freak of the game, he loves it and he is incredible to be around. He knows everything about cricket.

There are a lot of young players in the CSNI squad. With you all having another season at the top level, do you think the club is capable of something special in 2019?

Definitely. I heard Andre will be coming back next season, and I think we are just one big player away from winning trophies.

IN REVIEW: Muckamore captain Neil Gill looks back on the 2018 campaign

Muckamore secured their place in the Premier League for another season this year, finishing seventh having collected 20 points from 14 games (5 wins, 8 losses, 1 no result).

It is the exact same record they collected in the league in 2017, and captain Neil Gill is looking for his side to improve further when the 2019 season rolls around.

Professional Fahad Iqbal had a good season, and Adam McDaid (above) made a real impact when he joined the Moylena club late in the campaign.

Here, Gill reflects on the season that’s been.

When you look back on 2018, what are your thoughts?

Overall, we set out to stay in the league and we done that. There were a lot of positives with the likes of Aditya (Adey) and Craig Drummond having good seasons. Looking into next year, we need to think about not just surviving, but pushing on as well. That’s two years that we have consolidated.

The younger guys have had another season and hopefully I will be fully fit next year. We just to have to try and improve. There were a lot of positives, but there is also a lot of work that needs done.

You ended up finishing in 7th, but spent a lot of the season above that. Do you feel you performed better than that?

Looking through the whole season, there are only two matches that we got really annihilated in and those were the two CIYMS games. Other than that, we competed in every game.

We should have beat North Down away, and we had a no result against them as well. If you look on the whole, there are games there that we lost that we should have probably won. There is a lot we can improve on.

Our fielding was really poor. It was the worst that I have seen and it is something we need to work on. The boys need to get fitter. There are boys who have talent with the bat but they didn’t kick on and show it.

I didn’t have a great year personally with injuries and a few other things, so I will come back stronger. Sam Gordon and Aditya are going to Australia during the winter, so hopefully that will improve them as cricketers.

Aditya Adey had a great season, and you have a few other young guys in the squad. Do you think they will only continue to get better?

The point that I’ve been making to the club for years is that it’s important we stay up and aren’t a yo-yo team, which has happened over the years.

Seeing them in their second year in the Premier League, they have improved and you can see it when they are facing the best bowling and best batting.

Sam Gordon has so much talent and got two fifties in the Emerging Knights games, but for us played some silly shots which was down to concentration more than anything.

Adey still needs to improve his bowling. He does pick up wickets but he is still bowling two sides of the wicket and not bowling to a field. There is so much to work on and we are still in the Premier League.

Lisburn are coming up and they are going to be a good side. It isn’t going to be easy next year, but we just have to keep trying to improve.


Aditya Adey

You are consolidated in the Premier League now. Do you feel that the side has improved in 2018?

I do feel we have improved in some senses with Adey and a couple of the other guys standing up and being counted.

Hopefully next year the likes of Sam come along after spending some time in Australia. Our players have the talent and they need to do it in the big league now.

Ashwin (Shetty) came in and got important wickets, and the pro (Fahad Iqbal) was a great find as well, getting close to 700 runs and 28 wickets as well. We couldn’t complain about that.

We probably have improved, but not an awful lot. As I said, our fielding was worse than the year before. Overall, I am happy we stayed up but definitely looking to do better.


Muckamore professional Fahad Iqbal

Looking to 2019, what are the goals?

I said to the boys after the last game on Saturday that it’s great staying up, but next year I want to add a couple of guys to improve the team and add to what we already have and maybe push for a run in the Senior Cup and maybe get to a final.

We have got to a couple of semis in the past years, but it would be great for the club to get to a Senior Cup final.

It’s about us improving every single year. We have consolidated now and if we are improving as a club every year, it’s all you can ask for.