SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD James King from Rush emerged as one of the youngest stars at the recent Leinster Cricket Union Annual Awards Dinner when he picked up the Division 2 Wicketkeeper accolade.
The award was quite a catch, as it were, as the St Joseph's Secondary School pupil was up against some of the leading adult wicketkeepers in the country, but it's true to say that the stats don't lie and after adding up all the stumpings and catches during the season James was the top amateur, narrowly beaten into second place by a professional who wasn't eligible for such an award.
James helped his club Rush achieve a respectable mid-table finish in the Leinster Division 2 and also played his part in their run to the Alan Murray FM 20/20 Final which is for Division 1 and 2 teams, while Rush also reached the semis of the RSA National Cup before going down to neighbours Balbriggan.
Asked about his success, James said: 'I was looking at the stats a few weeks before and I was third and then second, and I won the award by getting three stumpings in the last game. 'I'm delighted. It was my granddad, who was the caretaker at Rush, who introduced me to the game and I just love playing it, having a laugh with the guys and having a bit of craic. 'I bat a bit as well, but it wouldn't be the strongest part of my game!
'Some day I would like to play for Ireland, and I'd love to play Test cricket if Ireland get their Test status, but I would have to put in the hard work.' James was one of a number of Fingal winners at the LCU Annual Awards Dinner, held at Old Belvedere Rugby Club. The Division 3 award for wicketkeeping was shared by The HIlls' Mick Dwyer and Ross Watkins of Merrion, and the Division 3 All-rounder for 2012 was Barry Archer from the Balbriggan club. Nazeer Shoukat, captain of the Irish Senior Cup-winning team The Hills, was presented with the John Dawson Fair Play Award after being nominated by several clubs who felt he has always played the game in the proper spirit. Shoukat, a former honorary secretary of the Leinster Cricket Union, came to Ireland 18 years ago initially as a professional player, and has now played almost 300 matches, scoring more than 8,000 runs and taking 500 wickets, as well as being capped 11 times by his adopted country.
The equivalent award for women, the Clarissa Pilkington Fair Play Award, went to Rush's Ann Harford who has been described as the grand dame of women's cricket in Ireland for many years, both as a player and administrator, and she was the first woman to be admitted into the Leinster Hall of Fame. The women's award for batting in Division 2 went to Malahide's Mary Waldron and her clubmate Clara Prior won the Division 3 bowling award. There was also local success at team level, with beaten RSA National Cup finalists Balbriggan winning the Division 3 award and Ring Commons claiming the Division 13 accolade in their first season since rejoining the league.