Despite a maiden half-century for Cameron Ruys, Larne fell to a six-wicket defeat to Millpark at a breezy Sandy Bay on Saturday.
Skipper Gareth Gaw won the toss and elected to bat first on a good deck.
Jonny Baxter and Trevor Dempsey opened the batting in a cautious fashion against some extremely accurate new-ball bowling. Although the runs weren’t flowing, they had almost seen off the opening bowlers before Dempsey was inexplicably given out, caught behind when he appeared to be nowhere near the ball. Gareth Alexander soon followed, this time for lbw, and Larne were struggling on 30-2.
Baxter began to up the scoring rate and got good support from Chris Dempsey but they perished for 31 and 20 respectively; it has been the story of the season so far for both players.
It was looking like Larne could end up posting a target of around 150, but some excellent batting in the last 10 overs took them to 180. It was Graeme Leitch, playing his first game for two seasons, who gave the innings impetus as he struck the ball beautifully in his 23, while Cameron Ruys and Sean Singh delivered the finishing touches finishing unbeaten on 52 and 25.
Ruys has improved his batting immeasurably this season and now looks like a quality middle order batsman with a good array of shots and Singh also returned to form in fine style.
Larne were hopeful of defending what they felt was a competitive total, but the bowling performance was one of the worst of the season and Millpark cruised home for the loss of just four wickets with 10 still to play.
Singh did bowl well with the new ball and was very unlucky to finish wicketless from 10 overs which cost just 28 runs but Alexander struggled bowling into the wind.
Gaw came on and got a wicket with his second ball but even he wasn’t at his best and Chris Dempsey couldn’t repeat his heroics of last weekend.
Baxter did bowl well and was rewarded with three wickets with Darren Stanton taking a good catch in the deep, but Charlie McCrum was the star of match as he finished unbeaten on 109. He looked in total control throughout the innings, was able to manoeuvre the ball between the fielders and all bad balls were sent flying over the boundary as he took his team home.
This was a disappointing performance by Larne and they will be hoping for an improvement next weekend with games against Bangor and Academy.
Larne 180-6 (C Ruys 52no, J Baxter 31, S Singh 25, G Leitch 23). Millpark 181-4 (J Baxter 3-38)