There’s a busy week ahead for the North West Warriors who start their Hanley Energy Interprovincial programme this coming Friday night with a difficult trip south to take on Leinster Lightning in the T20 Championship at Merrion on Friday evening (5pm).
A change to competition rules this season means that two overseas professionals can now participate in all formats, and the Warriors have drafted in Eglinton’s Oraine Williams and Marco Marais of Fox Lodge for the Dublin excursion.
Marais is well known in these parts after a brilliant debut season in the region 12 months ago, while West Indian, Williams, was in great form for the Villagers on their way to a top three finish and a senior cup final appearance. Also in is Coleraine’s Jarred Barnes who now qualifies for the Interprovincial side having met the residency rules.
Head coach, Ian McGregor, has been involved in the Warriors set-up from the beginning but will be watching his side in action for the first time tonight (Wednesday) after his two games in sole charge last year were wiped out by the weather.
McGregor will see Friday night’s squad go through their paces at Beechgrove this evening (6pm start) against a very strong North West Chairman’s XI as they warm up for Friday night’s contest at Merrion.
His only doubt is Craig Young, and the head coach said he would be monitoring that situation over the next few days.
“Craig has returned from Hampshire with a finger injury but we’re hoping that he will be okay to travel on Friday. He won’t take any part in tonight’s match against the Chairman’s team but the rest of our first-choice side will play.”
“We have two overseas players coming in, yet the rule change is quite ironic for us given that T20 has been our strongest suit in the past couple of seasons. That said we have some really good quality professionals in this year so it certainly shouldn’t do us any harm.”
Asked about his ambitions for the summer, McGregor suggested that the squad had sat down at talked openly about areas where they knew they could improve.
“We probably want to put a marker down this year over the course of the summer. We’ve now had the first block of three years, so we’ve taken stock and looked at aspects where we need to improve. I think the key requirement is that we want the guys to do themselves justice.”
“We have a lot of work to do but we know that. We have set ourselves several goals for the season and we will continue to work hard as a unit in pursuit of those. The squad is by no means a closed shop either and there will be opportunities still for players to force their way in with consistently big performances.”
The NWCU has called on local supporters to come out and support tonight’s game at Beechgrove (admission is free) which should see two very good sides serve up a decent contest.
The Warriors squad for both matches is as follows- Andy McBrine (capt); Aaron Gillespie; Jarred Barnes; Ricky-Lee Dougherty; Oraine Williams ; Gary McClintock; William McClintock; Marco Marias; David Rankin; Jonny Robinson; Stuart Thompson; Craig Young.
NW Chairman’s XI- Andrew Austin; Aaron Heywood; Andrew Riddles; Gavin Wallace; Peat Salmon; Jan Frylinck; Stephen Dunn; Andy Britton; Reece Kelly, Graham Kennedy and one place TBC.