Ireland v New Zealand

DateWednesday 16th July, Thursday 17th July 1958.
ResultMatch drawn.
TypeTwo day
DebutsW Scott.
Report The same team was selected for this match and a subsequent one day game in Dublin.

Ireland had not played the New Zealanders since 1937 but in 2 sunny days in Belfast gained a creditable draw. The New Zealanders were rather weak and lost the test series to England 4-0. Against the counties, however, they were reasonably successful but their batting was always suspect. Ireland were without JS Pollock, who had retired from international cricket, and CGM Kenny who had gone to Australia. SF Bergin was not selected. The only new cap was W Scott, a fastish bowler who had done well for North against South. T McCloy returned to open the innings after an absence of four years.

The game followed a pattern very similar to that against West Indies at Ormeau in 1957. Ireland batted first and after being 29 for four recovered to 86 for four but fell away to be all out in three hours. In 2 hours the New Zealanders were contained to 123-5.

Quinn and McCloy opened but at six Quinn sparred at Blair and was caught at first slip by Reid. Three runs later O'Brien was bowled by the other paceman Hayes. After 50 minutes Warke was caught at second slip by Alabaster off Blair. 24-3-8. The left-handed Cantwell was next and in 40 minutes to lunch he failed to get a run. Only five runs were added in this time and Sparling, the off spinner, bowled four maidens in a row. Just on the interval McCloy was bowled by Sparling for 16 scored in 90 minutes. Alabaster, a legspinner, and MacGibbon, medium fast, bowled after lunch. Cantwell, now partnered by Hunter, was a new man. The score mounted rapidly and, in an hour, 57 had been added. Hunter was out playing a "head-up" pull off Alabaster. 86-5-16. At 90, Sparling who had resumed, had Cantwell caught in his second over. His 40 was a spirited innings after a slow start. Disaster struck when Finlay and Huey were both out with the score unchanged. Frank Fee then played a little gem of an innings. It lasted only 18 minutes and he made 31 out of 33 in very correct style and hit a six and three fours. The final total was 130 and Sparling had taken 5-11 in 14.3 overs, everybody being reluctant to drive him. Blair's 2-7 in 11 overs was also a notable piece of bowling.

New Zealand began with left-handed LSM Miller (who some years ago played for Armagh when stationed in Ireland) and JW D'Arcy, a small, young, fair haired man who made a name for himself as a defensive player. Scott and Hunter opened the bowling and, after four overs from Hunter, Warke came on. In his second over Warke had Miller caught in the gully off a rather short ball. 29-1-17. Miller had been dropped behind the wickets when the total was 17. Reid, the captain, was next but when he had scored nine he played on to Huey. 48-2-9. D'Arcy and Harford added 58 for the third wicket, Harford making 34 of these. The latter then snicked Huey and was caught by O'Brien. Walker gave Hunter and Scott another fling just before play ended and each took a wicket. Hunter had Playle LBW at 118 and Finlay caught a splendid one-handed catch at square leg to dismiss MacGibbon off Scott. D'Arcy, after 2 hours, was 37 not out.

Ireland gained a draw on the second day. New Zealand gained a lead of 78 and when O'Brien was fifth out in Ireland's second innings, there was still 80 minutes to go and Ireland were only 26 ahead. However Finlay hung on grimly and saved the game. Continuing the innings, apart from Alabaster New Zealand made no great effort to force the pace and batted 105 minutes adding 85 runs. D'Arcy continued on and made 61 in 3 hours and, in general, the batting was very pedestrian. Alabaster's first scoring stroke was a six and he also hit two fours in his 28 made in 35 minutes. Huey in 31 overs took 3-71 while Scott's figures on his debut were 24.4-9-31-2.

When Ireland went in to bat again Quinn fell cheaply to Blair but McCloy and O'Brien brought the score to 44. McCloy then swept at Alabaster and was bowled round his legs. Reid gave himself a bowl and soon had Warke caught and bowled. 59-3-4. Cantwell stayed while 20 were added and he was bowled by Sparling. Hunter was next but he was out of touch. However, the partnership added 25 and O'Brien reached his 50. Reid changed the bowling frequently in an effort to shift O'Brien and eventually Alabaster caught a running catch at deep square leg off Sparling. O'Brien had made 52 in 130 minutes by splendid driving and handsome shots off his toes. There was still a distinct possibility of defeat but Hunter and Finlay spent almost half an hour over six runs. Then Hayes, who had not bowled much, was unleashed and bowling very fast took three wickets in five overs. Hunter, Fawcett and Fee were all caught off Hayes. Finlay, however, was still in, and the time was now 6 PM and Ireland's lead was 64. At this stage Reid gave up and gave Miller and Harford a bowl. Huey hit Miller for 4-4-6 off successive balls. Next over Miller had him caught at slip for 22. Harford bowled Scott at 6:22 PM and Finlay's stern fight was over. He had batted 70 minutes for 34 not out and undoubtedly saved the game after O'Brien got out.

Throughout the game the weather had been very good but the crowds were very disappointing.

Derek Scott

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