|Born||3 April 1980 Ballymena, Co Antrim|
|Educated||Cambridge House School, Ballymena Queen's University, Belfast|
|Occupation||Engineer; Professional Cricketer|
|Debut||21 August 1999 v Scotland at Ormeau|
|Style||Right hand bat, right arm fast.|
|Teams||Ballymena Essex Malden Saffron Walden Chelmsford|
|History||Adrian McCoubrey was, at his best, a fast bowler of genuine pace. Many batsmen found him a really awkward proposition, when, steaming in at full tilt, he pitched the ball just short of a length, leaving little time for stroke decision making and adjustment. He was, perhaps, a victim of Ireland's increasing commitment to one day cricket. He was a somewhat negligible batsman and was seen as an indifferent fieldsman, which meant that in the shorter form of the game, he was often replaced by a bowler of lesser pace but more all round ability. He was also somewhat injury prone. His approach to the wicket was classical, but his delivery, though it made for real pace, put tremendous strain on his back - a far from uncommon problem for a paceman. Thus, though he was undoubtedly the fastest bowler in Ireland by some distance when he made his debut, he suffered from ongoing injury problems which restricted his availability. |
An outstanding schoolboy sportsman, he played for Irish Schools v English Schools at Chester in 1997, but went wicketless. However in the U 19 European Championships, played in the NCU area, in 1999, he was more effective, particularly against Netherlands at The Green. Opening the attack with Dwayne McGerrigle, he shared in the destruction of the Dutch batting, finishing with figures of 8.1 - 2 - 29 - 4, while Dwayne had 3-14. The visitors were dismissed for 79, Ireland winning by 7 wickets. They eventually took second place in the tournament.
He had two fine performances at senior interprovincial level, in which he appeared for both the Development XI and the NCU. For the latter side at The Mardyke, he had 3-15 to help send the hosts back for 95, after NCU had posted 306-5. Against North Leinster at The Green three years later, NCU were bowled out for 94, with the Mooney brothers taking three wickets each. Rain intervened and the visitors reached their target of 90 with six wickets standing. However Adrian made it difficult for them. Bowling at top pace, he removed the top three in the order, an impressive haul of Jason Molins, Barry Archer and Naseer Shoukat, finishing with 6-1-18-3.
His debut for Ireland came in 1999. He was, in all, to play 43 times, taking 52 wickets at 26.92. He scored only one more run than he took wickets, averaging 4.42. He showed his potential on debut against Scotland in a three day match at Ormeau. He and McGerrigle were Ireland's youngest opening attack, Ian Calendar writing in The Irish Cricket Annual that they "bowled superbly." They reduced the visitors to 19-3, a start from which they never really recovered, Adrian finishing with 3-38. Thanks to Angus Dunlop hitting the first Irish hundred at Ormeau, Ireland gained a 114 runs lead. The two young batsmen struck early again thus playing a major part in Ireland's eventual win by 6 wickets.
Adrian was also in top form in the second innings of the Intercontinental Cup match against Scotland at Mannofield in the "Granite City" of Aberdeen in 2005, by which time he was settled in Essex and, though his county days had come and gone, was proving an effective bowler in the Premier League there. On a difficult green top wicket, the Scots had been on top throughout and seemed a shoe in to go through to the finals in Namibia in the autumn. However, when they came out in their second innings, needing 135, they found that Adrian had other ideas. Spurred on by tactical, if not tactful, comments from Molins his captain, he took 4-13 in a devastating 8 over spell at the cost of 17 runs, despite having no ball problems. Shades of Bob Willis at Headingley in 1981! Ireland eventually won by three runs and went south to lift the Cup later in the year.
Adrian also had two notable spells in limited overs matches. In the unsuccessful ICC Trophy campaign of 2001, he like most of his team-mates gave a somewhat mixed performance. He hit top form against Canada, though this was, unfortunately, a dead match with Canada already qualified and Ireland out of the running. However Adrian showed what might have been possible, taking 4-35 in a fine performance which needed no help from any fielders, clean bowling three and holding a caught and bowled off the other. He also bowled well against Bermuda and the Netherlands.
In 2003, Ireland entertained Denmark for a best of three limited overs contest which was an Intercontinental Cup qualifier. Only two matches were needed with Adrian's 4-41 in the second match ensuring that no third match was needed. One other representative match he appeared in was in 2004, when he assisted an injury hit Gibraltar against MCC. His speed was too much for the Marylebone Men, taking 3-19 in 6.2 overs. The "Rock" won by 6 wickets.
An extended Essex trial in 2002 gained him a County contract but though he had some useful performances both for the County side and for the 2nd XI, he was not retained after the 2004 season. His debut in the Championship was hardly propitious. Leicestershire were the visitors to Southchurch Park, Southend and ran up a vast 600-7. Adrian with 1-102, was one of four home bowlers to make an unwanted century. His best performance came in an early season match in 2004 against Cambridge University Centre of Excellence. With first innings of 7-2-16-4, he destroyed the students first innings, and by taking 3-56 in the second had a major part in the eventual victory by 163 runs. His best performance in the County Championship came in the drawn match against Durham at Riverside in the same season. He reduced their second innings to 23-3, though they eventually recovered to 121-8. His wickets included Marcus North lbw and Ricky Ponting's favourite fielder, Gary Pratt, who was caught. He also had several good performances for the 2nd XI, taking, for example, 4-46 in the second innings of a Championship match against Middlesex Seconds at Southgate in 2003 and six in the match against Kent at Halstead the following year. His bowling also helped the County reach the final of the 2nd XI Trophy in the same season. In the semi final against Durham he had figures of 10-0- 37-4, including England "one cap wonder" Gavin Hamilton. However he was off target in the final with Worcestershire, having 0-51 in 8 overs.
His club cricket in Essex began with Malden in the East Anglian Premier League in 2003. His pace often troubled the opposition for example his 3-27 setting up a win by 8 wickets over Swardstown. His best figures seen 5-29 against Vauxhall Mallards. However the match ended in a draw, with VM on 54-9 in pursuit of 254.
Moving first to Saffron Walden in 2005 and then to Chelmsford in 2009, he was then seen to some advantage in the Essex Premier League. His best figures seen were against Ardleigh Green in 2007. He was the only Saffron Walden bowler to make much of an impression with excellent analysis of 16.4 - 5 - 50 - 6, as Ardleigh posted 273-8. SW had responded with 198-5 by stumps. Unfortunately, shortly after his move to Chelmsford he was injured in July 2009.Since then he has played no serious cricket, feeling that he no longer has the incentive to do so.
Perhaps Adrian George Augustus Matthew McCoubrey did not achieve all that he might have for Ireland. However when he was on song, steaming in at full pace, as on that memorable day in Aberdeen, he showed what a fine bowler he was and gave spectators and team-mates alike much to remember.
He is profiled in Siggins and Fitzgerald Ireland's 100 Cricket Greats, to which this study is indebted.
Edward Liddle, January 2011
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