With the 2013 cricket season approaching the last few weeks, Dundalk Cricket Club can be said to have found their level in their third league season.
The first team had a spectacular league debut in 2011, further built their reputation as Leinster Cricket’s hot shots in 2012 and in 2013 have slowed a little bit but built on to the foundations laid down in earlier years.
After winning their second Leinster title in 2012 as Division 9 champions, albeit narrowly taking the title, the firsts were promoted to Division 8. This is where cricket in the Leinster League starts to take on a tougher and more robust form and where lower down the firsts had had it pretty much their own way, here they were perhaps for the first time really going to have a fight on their hands.
Initial signs were business as usual with a first match win in April at home against Dundrum 2 by 42 runs, but from there, things began to go awry and the next three matches against Civil Service 2, Adamstown 1 in the Middle Cup and Malahide 4 were all losses.
It wasn’t until July that the winning habit returned with a narrow win over Leinster 4 for 11 runs followed by an improved effort and a two wicket win over Civil Service 2.
The end of July saw another setback with loss to Hills 3 by five wickets but the impetus has since returned and at the beginning of August on the weekend of the 3rd and 4th the first team had back to back wins against Dundrum 2 and Wicklow County 1.
The firsts are currently sitting at fourth place in Division 8, comfortably out of the relegation zone, there are five games left in the season all at home and a run of victories could possibly see them in contention for promotion but an all out win of the division is unlikely for this year.
The quality of first team squad members is improving year on year. Currently sitting at the top of the batting averages with a test like 49.75 is Sajan Jayaseelan who regularly puts on batting master-classes while playing.
In the bowling, Phil Osborn sits at the top with a 13.00 average and economy rate of 4.03 but right behind him is the young pretender and product of Dundalk Cricket Club’s youth system Waleed Shahid with figures of a 14.33 average and economy rate of 7.17
The club and the first team started to attract a flurry of new members mid-season. One notable addition being Mike Bentley who represented Zimbabwe at U14, U16 and U19 level. Mike hit 38 runs on his debut for the club and has an impressive bowling economy rate of 3.39.
In contrast, the second team have in contrast laboured this year. After avoiding relegation from Division 12 last year, they have struggled to make their mark, but have have never given up hope.
They have played 10 league matches and one Junior Cup match, all of which have been losses, but there has been a bright spot in the gloom and the seconds posted an impressive four wicket win against Clontarf 6 on August 11 at Clontarf’s own ground which is renowned as one of Ireland’s only official One Day International Cricket grounds and scene of the recent international series against Pakistan.
The seconds have four more league games, two of them at home, and it’s hoped that with this win the squad may have turned the corner and there is a renewed spirit in the squad.
Iit is probably too late to avoid relegation but a few more wins would set the tone for next season.
The club continues to make strides in other areas; the club has long had a stated aim of starting a ladies team and the process has begun.
Sisters Deborah and Louise Challoner have been welcome additions and are now regular second team squad members.
Deborah has been appointed to the committee as Ladies Development Officer and to this end ladies training sessions have been taking place on Wednesday evenings with a core of around eight players and it is hoped that a full competitive ladies team can be launched in 2014.
Youth development continues at pace and the aforementioned Waleed Shahid is a good example of this.
Waleed is starting to make regular first team starts where his batting average of 9.25 is perhaps not a true reflection of his batting prowess. His second team average of 19.33 is perhaps a fairer one.
Honourable mentions must also go to Michael Mullen and Kalkeren Kieran who have shown enormous improvements since first starting to pick up bat and ball.
The future is looking bright for the club with new members an increasing youth squad and an ever growing band of supporters, for those interested in joining or learning more about the club please refer to the website dundalkcricketclub.com
Remaining fixtures of the season are as follows - First team: August 17 v Wicklow County 1; August 31 v The Hills 3; September 1 v Leinster 4; September 7 v Adamstown 1; September 14 v Malahide 4. All fixtures are at home and begin at 12.30pm. Seconds fixtures - August 24 v Clontarf 6; August 25 v Lucan 1; September 15 v Swords 2, away. All games begin at 12.30pm.