BELFAST — Nathan Waller could have been playing for Lisburn against CIYMS on Saturday, but his second XI county commitments with Sussex would have prevented him doing the coaching required by the Wallace Park club.
CI had no such qualms and duly snapped up the Zimbabwean who played for Northern Knights last season and is now qualified to play for Ireland.
As luck would have it, Lisburn’s first game of the season was at Belmont and their worst fears were realised.
Everyone accepted that Waller under-performed last season, scoring only 255 runs in 15 innings for Lisburn, with a top score of 68.
Sure enough, he doubled that in his first innings for CIYMS to mastermind a thrilling run chase, achieved with just one wicket and one ball to spare.
Waller’s unbeaten 135 came off just 94 balls with five fours and four sixes and was his second century of the season, following his run-a-ball 108 for Sussex II against Lancashire II in a friendly this month. If he can continue that form into the Knight’s inter-provincial programme, the Ireland selectors will be very interested.
For now, though, CI seem set to reap the benefits of his superb form and a fast start — they are away to Instonians next Saturday — would put the 2012 champions right in the mix to launch another title bid.
Waller hadn’t the honour of scoring the first century of the season. That went to his teammate from last year, South African professional Darryl Brown who finished 103 not out, from 84 balls with 11 fours and four sixes, to take Lisburn to 249 for eight with Richard McConkey (18 not out) the unsung hero in an unbroken ninth wicket stand of 84.
When Craig Ervine then took four wickets, including CI’s new South African professional Rassie van der Dussen for 19, to reduce the Belmont side to 67 for five, it looked game over. Waller, who has three days’ cricket for Sussex II this week, had other ideas.
Saturday’s game at Shaw’s Bridge has suddenly taken on a new importance after the defending joint champions lost their opening game to Civil Service North, who have announced that Ireland A international Shane Getkate has joined them from North County.
Getkate was left out of the Leinster Lightning training squad so, with ambitions to get back into the Ireland set-up, he has switched unions and will be hoping for a call-up to the Northern Knights when their season gets under way at the end of May.