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Marc Ellison Interview

Jonny Morton  

Marc EllisonMarc Ellison's blistering 97 helped CSNI record a dominant 113-run win over depleted neighbours CIYMS in the Robinson Services Premier League on Saturday.

Usually accustomed to opening for the Stormont side, Ellison has now slotted into the middle order with great success and was somewhere near his classy best at Belmont, striking seven fours and six maximums during a 60-ball stay at the crease. The 35-year-old – who is still one of the finest batsmen in the top-flight but hasn't been a permanent fixture in the squad due to unavailability – arrived at the crease with the score sitting on 126-2 after a solid platform had been set by Paddy Beverland (49) and Troy Johnson (74). Ellison shared a partnership of 68 with overseas professional Johnson before putting on a further 96 in the space of 10 overs with captain Stuart Thompson (41) as the visitors finished on 305-6.

Trying to reach his century in style, Ellison was caught three runs short off the bowling of Keith Dudgeon (4-42), but a winning total had been set and CIYMS finished well adrift despite the best efforts of James Cameron-Dow (55) and Chris Dougherty (52). "It was really well set up by Paddy and Troy," reflected Ellison. "The job that Paddy did wasn't easy as there was inconsistent bounce at times, so we had a bit of luck but Paddy found a way to hang in there and played a crucial knock."

"If we were two or three down early, they have momentum and it's tough against their spin attack if we have to think conservatively. I'm not playing and training as much as I have in the past so I haven't had too much rhythm recently. Some days things just click and I hit my first ball for four through point. With the situation when I came in, the game is set up and the momentum is with us. That's the nature of the way things go sometimes – some days they come off, some they don't. I got a bit of luck and things went my way."

Johnson has been a revelation since arriving in the NCU from New Zealand earlier this month, scoring three consecutive half-centuries in 50-over competitions and collected figures of 7-13 against Cliftonville Academy in a memorable debut. The 24-year-old has fit right in alongside fellow Kiwi's Luke Georgeson, Corin Goodall and Ellison – who is a former New Zealand U19 captain.

"I think his energy is one of his real strengths," said Ellison. "He brings a lot of positive energy to the group and is always in a good mood. It's great to have that energy for starters and then on the field with the bat he has done a lot of the hard work. I've watched him play a few innings in the Super Smash in New Zealand where he has been inventive and destructive, so he has assessed the situation really well and set us up nicely. His bowling has been a bonus because I don't think many expected him to do what he has with the ball. He keeps it very simple and he's been so effective."

Thompson's fluent innings ensured the momentum continued through right until the dying overs and Ellison had the best seat in the house. "Thommo is brilliant," he added. "He's playing really well and he had the beauty as well of coming in when the job is set up and it's credit to him that he can adapt. If he needs to hang in there for a bit longer before being positive he can do that, but thankfully that real grind from the others allowed us to play freely. He's so good to watch and is free flowing, so it's always nice being down the other end to watch him."

It has been a mixed start to the season for CSNI, who have won three from six league matches and were dumped out of the Irish Senior Cup in the first round by Clontarf. Ellison is hoping their weekend victory can help set them up for more success as they head into the Gallagher Challenge Cup on Saturday and beyond.

"Consistency is a key word for us and the challenge is trying to get a similar 11 out most weeks," he said. We have guys in the team who have different personal needs with work or family, so the tricky one is trying to find the consistency when we are going to be chopping and changing most weeks. We're well aware that CI were missing a few yesterday but we want to continue working on that blueprint with the bat as we have a mix of youth and experience so we're trying to give them opportunities when we can. We will keep pushing and know we need to continue improving if we are to move up the table and compete for higher honours."

Elsewhere, it was a weekend to forget for the Northern Knights as they lost all three matches at the Inter-Provincial Twenty20 Festival in Comber. Following defeats to North West Warriors and Munster Reds on Friday and Saturday respectively, they came out on the wrong side of a 39-run margin against Leinster Lightning yesterday.

Simon Johnston's side will be back in 50-over action on Thursday when they host the Warriors at Stormont.