It is has not been a straightforward first season as captain for North Down captain Peter Davison but the Comber club have achieved their first goal – making the top six ahead of the split in the NCU Premier League.

They are already onto their second professional of the season and have had to cope with the extended loss of Tom Mayes to non-playing Ireland duty and the total absence of international Craig Young but Davison is happy where they are going into the second half of the season.

“It’s a similar position to last year, we have six matches left including this weekend and we’ll take it game by game, says one-club man Davison who has been around The Green since he was 13 years of age and a 1st XI regular since 2015.

“Goal number one was always going to be to get into the top six and the next goal is to give a better account of ourselves against those teams because we have been blown away by a couple of them at least.”

North Down were forced to play two of those games without an overseas professional after Naushad Shaikh was called back to his India state side and before New Zealander Dale Phillips joined last month.

“When we were discussing Naushad’s contract at  the start of the season he said it was “not very likely” he would be called up for representative cricket but that has turned out to be the complete opposite. But it is what it is,” added Davison.

“When you play a couple of matches without a pro it puts you at a disadvantage against any side in the league and then when your strike bowler (Mayes) is not there to get those early wickets and put us in a positive position, it is difficult to be competitive.

“But I’m happy the way the guys have stuck at it, we could have played our violin and said ‘woe is us’ and given up but we have stuck at it. If a couple of results go our way over the next few weeks you never know.”

Phillips will be available every Saturday but he is still contracted as sub-pro with Rishton, the Lancashire League club who employed Viv Richards back in the 1970s, so he will be flying back and forward every weekend.

“He’s a great lad, he took three wickets last Saturday and looks an aggressive top order batter,” says Davison. “He was caught at thirdman (second ball) in his first game, a T20 against CIYMS, which doesn’t happen too often but he will definitely add to the team.

“Most  of our runs have come from the two openers (Alistair Shields and Ani Chore) and no-one in the middle order has kicked on. So hopefully he will help us, he got a good 30 not out last week.”

The other bonus this year is the return from CIYMS of Ireland international Jacob Mulder “who has stepped up with both bat and ball but hopes that Young, just back from Ireland’s unsuccessful World Cup qualifying bid, would be available this weekend, have been dashed.

“Craig is always busting to play for us but he has been told he can’t play on Saturday because of the travel and fatigue, but I’ll pester him every week and if we can get him for two or three matches it will be a bonus.”

North Down are actually in fourth place, on run-rate above Waringstown and Civil Service North, but one win behind the top three and it is second place Instonians who are the visitors to The Green tomorrow.

“When you look at their first XI, I’m not surprised at how well they are doing this year, they are a strong side but I’m looking forward to the challenge,” added Davison.