Waringstown’s 13-match winning run will be put to a stern test this weekend.
The villagers, who have won eight consecutive matches this season, following their winning sequence at the end of 2013, host Railway Union in the RSA Irish Cup at The Lawn on Sunday.
Niall and Kevin O’Brien, the Ireland internationals, are both expected to play, with Niall having the weekend off from his full-time county commitments at Leicestershire.
Kevin, who has a short-term Twenty20 contract with Surrey, will be there to provide fireworks in the middle order.
The presence of the O’Brien brothers will hopefully catch the imagination of the cricketing public.
Waringstown captain Lee Nelson said: “It has the potential to be a great day for the club. It’s what the Irish Cup is about, playing against the big times at home in front of a big crowd, these are the kind of days you want to be involved in as a player. We will see if both the O’Brien brothers are playing on the day but if they are then it raises the bar even further when you have top Irish internationals taking part. It would be good to see it happening even more regularly because it would make the competition even more of a spectacle than it already is.”
Before that Waringstown host Ballymena on Saturday in a game they will be strongly fancied to win. Simon McDowell’s team are still without professional Yogesh Takawale who is not expected to arrive in Northern Ireland until next Tuesday.
But Nelson will be emphasising the importance of respecting the visitors who are still without a win in any competition this summer.
He added: “Saturday is just as big a game as Sunday is. We need to keep winning especially with Instonians and North Down playing each other. One of them will slip up so it’s another opportunity to get another four points ahead of the pack. That’s something I will be hammering home to the players on Saturday morning. It’s a great opportunity to play well and get four points.”
Last Saturday James Hall hit a majestic 132 as Waringstown cruised into the quarter-finals of the O’Neill’s Ulster Cup.
The former Ireland international struck 11 fours and six sixes, reaching his century in 93 balls, as the villagers piled up 241 for four in their 40 overs.
Nelson made 25 and Greg Thompson a breezy 23 as the momentum barely flagged throughout.
Waringstown soon made inroads into the Fox Lodge batting as Phil Eaglestone and professional Shaheen Khan both struck early blows.
With spinners Gary Kidd and Kyle McCallan also getting in on the wicket-taking act Fox Lodge were soon 36 for nine and in danger of losing by more than 200 runs.
Astonishingly there were six ducks and with two other players managing just a single each, eight batsmen managed a grand total of two runs between them.
However Brian Allen, batting at number three, held firm on 35 not out to at least drag Fox Lodge past 50 before they were dismissed for 53.
Left-arm spinner Kidd, who has started the season brilliantly, took three more wickets and Kyle McCallan claimed four for just seven runs in a 188-run thrashing.
Waringstown have now won all eight of their matches under Nelson and after finishing 2013 with five consecutive victories, they are on a remarkable 13-match unbeaten run in all competitions.
The news was not good down the club however as both the second and third elevens made early exits in the Junior and Minor cups.
The seconds lost heavily at Drumaness while the thirds could not chase down the 80 runs needed to beat Cregagh seconds at the Gordon Playing Fields. The seconds also went out of the Ulster Plate at home to Strabane on Sunday.
The ball sponsor for the Waringstown game against Ballymena on Saturday is John Carlton while the ball sponsor for the match on Sunday against Railway Union is Brian Malcolmson.