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Club Profiles 2021 - North Down CC

Ollie Thorpe
NCU Media & Communications Officer

North Down CC captain Alistair Shields insists that his side must start the new campaign strong due to the layout of the season.

"It's important over the next couple of weeks that we blow off any cobwebs from the winter and hit the ground running as best we can," said Shields. "With the way the season it laid out – it's the kind of situation where if you have a few bad weeks at the start then you can almost rule yourself out of that T20 Cup."

However, having won the Robinson Services Cup last season as well as reaching the final of the Lagan Valley Steels T20 Cup, Shields believes that his team will have what it takes to compete again in 2021.

"We've normally gone quite well in the T20 – we kept getting to finals in previous years and couldn't get over the line so it was nice to come out on the winning side last summer," explained Shields. "We're hoping that that'll be a catalyst for this year; sometimes whenever you get over the line once it then becomes a habit and that's what we'll be hoping for."

"I think we're generally pretty well set up to play T20 cricket – we've got guys who can bowl with good pace, we've got spinners who can turn the ball various ways and we've got batsmen who can clear the ropes and score quickly."

The Comber outfit start their season with a trip to Carrickfergus and Shields is aware of the threats that their hosts will pose.

"It'll be a difficult start," said Shields. "Middle Road is never an easy place to go – they're obviously a well-drilled team and they've got some really exciting and explosive players in their team. They've recruited well too with Graeme McCarter coming and Jacques Snyman returning. I don't think there will be any easy games this year – all the sides have recruited well and everyone I think will have a player or two that will be playing at inter-provincial level or at international level."

North Down are a team that have recruited well themselves. After the departures of Jamie Magowan (Muckamore), Aditya Adey and Ruhan Pretorius (both Woodvale), they have brought in Tom Mayes and Aniruddha Chore as well as overseas player Gayan Maneeshan.

Maneeshan is a top-order batsman who averages just under 37 in first-class cricket and has struck 21 half-centuries and eight hundreds. Mayes,19, is from South African seamer with an Irish passport and Chore lives locally, but has represented Oman 'A' in the past.

Of the signings, Shields said: "These guys are coming from the unknown. The guys who have played in England and Scotland came with good recommendation. Hopefully the pro can hit the ground running when he finishes his quarantine period. Tom Mayes has looked good so far and he looks like a guy who's going to get it down there – he gets steep bounce and will make life uncomfortable for batsmen around the league."

"Aniruddha is someone that we picked up locally. With first-class experience that gave us an indication that we were getting a good player – he looks like pretty solid all-round bat and a good keeper. We have high hopes for all three of them this year."