THE big news on the below-first-class scene in England was the successful return to Sussex on trial of Craig Young.
Fresh from his World Cup experiences, Young was keen to show the county how he had progressed since his time there (2010-13) when injury ruined his chances of making the grade.
In a 3-day game at Radlett against Middlesex 2nds Young took 5-85 off 18 overs and 3-77 off 15. One of his victims was fellow Irish squad member Andrew Balbirnie who lost his wicket to Young for 6 before making 27 in the second innings as Middlesex won by three wickets.
Young has also lined up a trial with Leicestershire where he could be joining the O’Brien brothers in another Irish colony to rival those at Middlesex, Warwickshire and Durham.
George Dockrell was in the runs for Somerset 2nds, who he has been captaining. In a 50 over game against Devon he came in at No.10 and made 37 off 31 balls, and later took 1-4 off three overs.
Next day he was in action at Taunton Vale against Hampshire 2nds, who included Ireland-qualified Andy Gorvin, who made 26 and 14.
Dockrell didn’t bowl in the first innings, but coming in at No.9 with the score at 363-7, he helped the county add another 188 of which he scored 132 off 93 balls. He turned his arm over for 18.4 overs in the second innings, taking 4-32.
Two Irish bowlers opened the attack for Warwickshire in a 2nd XI friendly against a combined Kent/Northants side last week at Beckenham.
Boyd Rankin took 3-48 and 1-20, but most Irish interest nowadays would be in Mark Adair, who returned 12-3-41-1 and 13-2-67-1. Adair has also been in the wickets for the Moseley club.
There is another trio of Irishmen at Durham, where Stuart Poynter has been in stupendous early season form.
Opening the batting against Gloucestershire, Poynter made 6 and 98 (off 125 balls) in a high-scoring draw.
Barry McCarthy went in No8 and made an excellent 37, before taking 2-66 off 18 overs, while Peter Chase took 1-76 off 14.
McCarthy has been playing for Gateshead Fell in the Durham Premier Division, and took 1-51 off nine overs against Chester-le-Street on Saturday, before making 31 as his club went down to a 67 run defeat.
The next day the Irish trio were again in action for the county Twos against Northumberland at the Emirates.
Poynter came in at the end of the 28th over made a brilliant unbeaten 107 off 66 balls, hitting 3 sixes and 14 fours. The total of 397-4 was always going to be too many for the minor county who were all out for 136.
McCarthy opened the bowling and took 7-0-37-1. Chase came on fourth change with the score at 93-6 and took 2-2 off his first over, the second wicket to a catch by Poynter before being taken off!
Paul Stirling and Balbirnie were in action for Sunbury CC against Middlesex in a pre-season T20 friendly on Saturday. Stirling’s two overs went for 17, and neither Irishman got going as they made 11 (Stirling) and 2 (Balbirnie) in a 112 run defeat.
Meanwhile, the university players have been busy with their books and haven’t been turning out in games below the county game level.
But here’s your starter for ten… can you name one Irish first-class cricketer who had a successful week representing his college this week?
The answer of course is Michael Taylor (Ballymena and CricketEurope) who helped his Cambridge college, Gonville & Caius, to victory in the final of University Challenge.