Historic weekend in store at the Mall.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Historic weekend in store at the Mall. thumbnailArmagh’s new professional Shadley Van Schalkwyk

ARMAGH Cricket Club can look forward to one of the biggest weekends in their history with both this Saturday and Sunday seeing massive matches at their Mall venue.

On Saturday, the Firsts host Balbriggan in what will be the club's first ever outing in the Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup.

Then on the following day the Northern Cricket Union have decreed that the Robinson Services Premier League games postponed on May 5th will be played meaning that all-Ireland Champions Waringstown are the visitors for the first game of top flight level league cricket in Armagh for 60 years.

Armagh captain Matthew Steenson was understandably excited at the prospect of a big weekend ahead.

'It's a big weekend for the club and everyone associated with it. The Irish Cup game is one we have all been looking forward to from the draw being made.

"We don't know much about Balbriggan but I'm sure they don't know a lot about us either and it should make for a great game.

We will make them very welcome to the Mall. The day after is Waringstown and their name is synonymous with local cricket.

We would know a bit more about them and know we will certainly have to raise our game to match their experience and quality."

So far it's been a frustrating start to his Armagh career for the club's new professional Shadley Van Schalkwyk as the wet weather has curtailed his appearances.

But his new teammates saw enough during his opening game against Muckamore to know he will make a big impact at the Mall.

"Shadley scored a match-winning 50 against Muckamore and the players were delighted with what we saw," said Armagh's Gareth McCarter.

"We are excited by the level of professionalism he will bring to our club and our players will certainly improve from watching him and listening to him during coaching sessions."

Born in Cape Town, Shadley has been playing in cricket's professional ranks for over a decade. His career began with South Africa's schoolboys before he progressed to Western Province U19s and then onto the South Africa U19 side.

At club level Shadley joined the Diamond Eagles (now the Knights) and has remained there ever since but because it is the close season in South Africa he has the opportunity to play abroad.

"I love to travel and see different places and I had never been to Ireland before so this felt like a good opportunity," said Shadley.

"So far I am really enjoying it, the standard of cricket has been better than I expected and the Mall is a lovely setting to play the game plus I have been made to feel really welcome in the city.

"It's always a challenge coming to play in different conditions so I am working hard to find my feet and adapt to the game here." Armagh have targeted survival this season after returning to the Premier league for the first time in 60 years however their professional is keen that the team doesn't sell itself short.

"Obviously it's a big step up and survival is the main priority but from what I have seen so far I think this team can upset a few sides. I think, with confidence, Armagh can really compete this year, there is certainly the quality in the team to do so."

Bringing a professional to the Mall is a big commitment from the local team.

"It really has been a big commitment by the club, not just financially but also in terms of working with the Home Office to make sure the process of getting Shadley over to Armagh was all correct," said Gareth McCarter.

"But we are confidant Shadley's time in Armagh will be beneficial for the club, both on and of the field."

Meanwhile youth cricket training will kick off in Armagh on Monday 21st May under the watchful eyes of professional Shadley van Schalkwyk and club coach Harry Doyle.

The popular POWER Cricket programme for 6-11 year old beginners will be from 6:30pm-7:30pm while under 13 and under 15 will train from 7:30 until 8:30pm.


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