ANDREW Balbirnie’s astonishing summer reached a new peak at the Ageas Bowl this week.
On a road of a pitch specially prepared by fellow Dubliner Karl McDermott, Balbirnie scored a century in each innings of Middlesex 2nds seven-wicket win over Hampshire.
It is a rare enough feat, only once previously achieved by a Middlesex player – Jason Pooley – and elsewhere by the likes of Alastair Cook.
It came, remarkably, after a two-week lay-off with a fractured finger.
With six other 50s for the county, and a match-winning century for Leinster Lightning, a run in Middlesex’s 1st XI must be next, followed by a serious bid to break into the Irish squad.
Against Hants, Balbirnie made 137 off 177 balls (2 sixes, 19 fours) and was then unbeaten with 136 in the second innings (130 balls, 2 sixes, 16 fours).
Elsewhere there were three Irishmen in action for the same county, which is also a first.
Leinster cricket’s close links with Durham has opened a few doors in recent times, and this week saw Pembroke’s Barry McCarthy on trial in a game against Glamorgan at Ackram Park in Middlesbrough.
Barry bowled first, returning 12-1-68-0, then made 33 off 68 balls. He bowled a single over, a maiden, second time around, and then batted almost an hour for a 62-ball 10 as Durham battled in vain to draw the game.
Peter Chase took 15-4-45-0 and 4-0-24-0 and did not bat in either innings.
Stuart Poynter made 58 and 10, as well as completing eight dismissals in the match.
The trio also played in a 50-over Second Eleven Trophy game against Glamorgan, with McCarthy taking the wicket of captain Steve Walters, caught and bowled, in 8-1-44-1.
Chase’s figures were 5-0-30-0. Poynter made 38 and executed a couple of stumpings. McCarthy made 7 off seven balls, while Chase had a three-ball duck.
Shane Getkate had the first of his trial games with Northamptonshire 2nds, bowling 4-1-16-1 but didn’t get a chance to bat as the county racked up 402-3 in 50 overs against Gloucestershire.
Oddly, Graeme McCarter didn’t bowl and Glos only used five bowlers!
The Killyclooney man batted at No.9 and made 4.
Ben Wylie was the only one of Cambridge’s three Irishmen to play in the four-day Varsity Match at the Parks.
The Instonians man was used as an occasional bowler (4-0-12-0, 3-0-16-0) and made 6 and 4no from the middle order as Oxford failed to force a win.
Former Ireland keeper Rory McCann, now living in Scotland, has been turning out for the Carlton club in the Eastern Premier Division alongside Saltires players Fraser Watts and Preston Mommsen.
No longer keeping wicket, he bats four and two weeks ago he made 91 against Heriot’s, followed by 13 against Forfarshire.