The touring Ulster Schools played their first match today, a Pro40 against Western Warriors Under 18s at Poloc CC’s “Shawholm” ground in Glasgow. After winning the toss, the tourists decided to bat first on a glorious day, on a flat track and with a fast outfield. And score quickly the Ulster batters did, going along at over 5-an-over in the first ten overs. This run-rate was boosted by wayward bowling from the Warriors attack, however, and almost despite this, the tourists were also losing wickets. Fifteen overs in to their innings and the score was 76, more than 5-an-over. But the Ulster side were also five down! East Kilbride CC’s Kess Sajjad had been the main wicket-taker, dismissing four of the tourists’ top five, all caught. In fact when Ulster schools were bowled out for just 114 in the 28th over, no fewer than seven batters had been dismissed by being caught, Louis Ware and Harry Briggs (both Greenock CC) taking a brace of catches each. The other feature of the innings was the wayward bowling. This, like the coming-and-going of Ulster Schools batters was a recurring theme. No fewer than 32 of the 114 runs recorded were extras, and of these 22 were wides. In other circumstances this would likely have cost the Warriors the win.
However today it didn’t. However, if the Warriors‘ bowling was sloppy, their batting was, at times, little better. In what turned out to be a bit of a nail-biting finish, the Warriors sneaked home by just two wickets. No fewer than six batters reached double figures, but none 20. Yet the start of the run-chase suggested it would be routine. Uzzair Shah of Poloc CC (17) and Greenock Cc’s Harry Briggs (14) had taken their side’s reply to 39 without loss, with no alarm bells ringing, before Briggs was first out, bowled by Robinson. Shah then committed the cardinal sin of getting out immediately too, 39 for 0 was suddenly 39 for 2, and two new batters were in the middle. However, again, the total started to increase nicely. 50 was passed, then 60, as the halfway point in the run-chase came and went. But then just as two wickets had fallen with the score on 39, so two fell when the scoreboard read 67. 67 for 2 became 67 for 4. And again it was the two “in” batters who got out: Taimoor Ahmad (Poloc CC) and John oliver (Glasgow Accies CC). Both caught. From this point on it was like deja vu referencing the Ulster Schools innings: batters coming-and-going as if the wicket was a revolving door. 67 for 4 became 107 for 8, and 7 runs were still needed with only two wickets in hand. However the win would be secured, the finish line being reached when Helensburgh CC’s Gregor Chambers stroked a 4 through extra cover to see his side home. A win, but only just, by two wickets.
So, a win, but much to work on for the Warriors, who meet the Ulster Schools side again on Wednesday, in Stirling, in a quadrangular T20 competition.