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After capping off a remarkable debut campaign by being named Cricket Ireland Club Player of the Year, North Down batsman Aniruddha Chore is setting his sights on even more success this season.
Born in India, Chore arrived at The Green having played 10 First Class matches for Vidarbha in his homeland before enjoying a spell with Oman A and wasted no time in showing his quality. The 30-year-old topped the NCU run charts by scoring 1,157 at an astonishing average of 77.13 and hit 50+ in 10 of the 22 innings he played in all competitions, helping North Down reach the Gallagher Challenge Cup final. There was a period from mid-July to early-August where Chore struck 478 runs without being dismissed in five innings – which included scores of 140* and 121* - and he has already started the current campaign in great form.
Last Saturday, he shared an opening partnership of 175 with captain Alistair Shields as they eased to a 10-wicket Irish Senior Cup victory over Brigade with both batsmen contributing 77*. That added to a list of growing Chore half-centuries – he also went past 50 against Cliftonville Academy and Instonians – to put North Down top of the Robinson Services Premier League after winning four of their first five matches. They will enjoy a rare weekend off as they play host to the first Inter-Provincial Twenty20 festival, giving Chore some time to reflect on the start of a busy season.
"I'm very happy," he said. "I've had good contributions where I have helped the team to win and that has always been my main goal. Whichever team I play for, I want to contribute to their success. Last year in the Challenge Cup we came second, but now in that and in the Irish Cup we are looking for a strong season again this year. We have a good team, an excellent captain and excellent professional so the team is looking in a brilliant state. We really want to give it a big push again this season."
Chore had developed a ruthless partnership with Irish international Paul Stirling, kicking the league season off with stands of 178 and 204 in dominant victories. Stirling has now departed for the Vitality T20 Blast in England, where he started by scoring 119 from 51 balls – including 34 in a single over – for the Birmingham Bears against Northamptonshire. Batting alongside a player of his quality can only do wonders for those around him and Chore learned a lot from his destructive team-mate.
"It was special for me because Stirlo is such a great player so just to share the dressing room with him I picked up on a lot of things and I had good conversations with him regarding my own game," he added. While batting in the middle, it takes the pressure off you because he's such a great batsman that the eyes are always on him and I can manage to do my work at the other end."
His domination of the club game has earned Chore a call-up to the Northern Knights squad, for whom he scored 48 on debut against North West Warriors earlier this month and followed it up with 38 in defeat to Munster Reds on Tuesday.
"It has been amazing," he said. "I'm so grateful to Johnty (Simon Johnston, head coach) for giving me the opportunity to play for the Knights. The way they train, talking to the best players and getting to train with them has been an amazing experience. It's something I want to keep doing and I want to learn and get better. I want to pick the brains of the players there because it's so helpful. It's something I was looking for in the last couple of years and it's really helping me improve my game."
Chore plays a very different role with the Knights, batting in the middle order and running around in the field, whereas he plies his trade as a wicketkeeper at club level. It has been a challenge but one he's embracing as he looks to take his game to another level.
"It's a challenge but I just want to play as much as possible, so if that requires me playing in a different role then I am happy doing it," he added. At the end of the day, I just want to see the team win so whatever they require of me I am happy to do. It's challenging, but I'm the sort of person that accepts challenges and want to get better from it."
The ultimate ambition for Chore is to play international cricket for Ireland and he should be eligible for the men in green towards the end of 2023.
"I love it here," he said. "I was in Oman for a couple of years but this feels like a place where I belong. I've loved my time over here and I can't wait to be involved more with North Down, the Knights and hopefully Ireland one day. That's my next goal. I came into the country and North Down have been very helpful. It's the same with the Knights now who are helping me get to the next level and I would love to play for Ireland. That's my main goal."
Saturday 28th May Fixtures
Robinson Services Premier League:
Robinson Services Section One:
Robinson Services Section Two:
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