CountyWatch Extra (5)

FOUR centuries, four fifties, three five-fers and one ten-wicket-match. It was quite a week of individual performances by Irish players in sub-top level cricket this week.

Paul Stirling has lost his place in the county championship team although he has started in the Middlesex T20 Blast side.

He was in spectacular form with the 2nd XI however so there are hopes of an early return to the first team. This week he made 71 (83 balls, 11 fours) and 151 not out (181 balls, 5 sixes, 20 fours) against Hampshire seconds in his first foray as county captain.

In the first innings he was one of recent England ODI spinner Danny Briggs’s six victims, as was Andy Balbirnie for a second ball 0 (he made 16 second time around).

Andy Gorvin made 8 – caught Balbirnie — for Hampshire II, as the Pembroke man bowled two overs 0-12.

Stirling shrewdly, and unselfishly, declared at 283-3 and saw Hampshire all out 11 runs short – Gorvin was run out for 2.

Balbirnie and Gorvin sat out the pair of T20 games at the Ageas Bowl on Thursday, in the first of which Stirling made an 18-ball 40 (3 sixes, 3 fours) and bowled 3-0-15-1 in a narrow win.

In the second game he recorded a stunning 43-ball century, going on to make 116 off 56 balls (9 sixes, 9 fours) as Middlesex made 232-4 after an opening stand of 177 in 13 overs with Dawid Malan (65).

Stirling then took 1-23 off his four overs as his team won by 89 runs.

Earlier, Stirling made 59 for Middlesex 2nds against the Club Cricket Conference, when Balbirnie made 20.

Gorvin, playing in the National Club Championship for Havant, made 60 and took 5-24 against Middleton-on-Sea. The Irish all-rounder scored 37 for the Hampshire Academy against Bashley in the Southern League Premier Division.

This week Stuart Poynter made yet another 2nd XI century (his third in all) for Durham against Warwickshire.

The game, played at the county ground, saw Poynter (119) add 192 for the third wicket with Gordon Muchall (142). The Irishman hit 19 fours in an innings of 148 balls.

Barry McCarthy failed to trouble the scorers. Warwickshire featured Mark Adair, who bowled 12-2-50-1 and then scored 4 as Warks posted a first-innings lead.

Adair was out to McCarthy (21-3-78-1) while Poynter held three catches. On a rain-affected second day Poynter made 70 off 92 balls, meaning the Ireland A stumper has now scored almost 700 runs this season, with three hundreds and four fifties.

McCarthy made another duck and Durham collapsed to 198 (Adair 13-3-46-2), setting Warks 124 to win. On the day when his sister, international Louise, took 5-0, McCarthy took 2-35 as Warwickshire won by five wickets.

Durham earlier won a pair of T20s, with McCarthy bowling 3-0-20-1 and 4-0-28-2, also making 8. Poynter made 20 and took a catch and a stumping. Mark Adair took some stick from Graham Clark, his 1.4 overs going for 31 for the wicket of Adam Hickey. His second four overs saw him take 0-34 and he made 6 not out.

Last week Durham 2nds played a series of three games against Leicestershire 2nds, with Barry McCarthy taking 3-20 off his four overs in the first T20, one catch going to Poynter.

In the second game he went for 13 off his two overs, but neither Irishmen batted in a nine wicket win. In the three-day game Poynter made 0 and McCarthy 25 not out as Durham won by an innings. McCarthy bowled 7-1-25-1 and 8-2-18-1 as Poynter snapped up five catches.

In the Birmingham Premier League Adair made 22 for Moseley v Bromsgrove, also took 3-61 in eight overs. Mark Adair was also in action for Warwickshire 2nds, returning 12-1-37-1 against Worcestershire, and 9.4-0-36-2 against Surrey, also making an unbeaten 16 with the bat.

George Dockrell has yet to play for Somerset’s first XI this summer, but has been ripping it up on the 2nd XI. In a three-dayer against Glamorgan in Cardiff, he made 62 off 62 balls with 11 fours and a six, following with a 31 as Somerset won by three wickets.

Dockrell also returned 1-50 and 0-23. The first of a pair of T20s against Sussex was affected by rain and reduced to a Five5 game, with the Irish left-armer giving up just six off his over in which he took a wicket. He also hit 10 not out but Somerset fell four runs short.

In the second game Dockrell bowled 4-0-12-1 and made 1 with the bat as his county lost by five runs. Going in No.3 for Taunton St Andrews in the West of England Premier League, Dockrell made 0, but his bowling return of 8-2-18-4 was crucial in a 56 run victory.

Patrick Tice had a day to remember for the light blues at Fenner’s last week. The Merrion stumper made a century as Cambridge chased down Oxford’s 465-7 declared to win by one wicket.

Going in No.6, Tice faced 148 balls and hit 12 fours. Two days later he made 16 against Free Foresters for a Cambridge side captained by Ben Wylie. The Instonians man made 40 and took 1-30 but led his team to a four wicket defeat.

Bobby Gamble and Robert McKinley were both in action for Loughborough University. In a 50 over game against Leeds/Bradford, McKinley took 2-25 in six overs while Gamble had 0-43 off nine.

The Ballymena man made an unbeaten 15 while Gamble had a golden duck. The two-day game against the same opponents was drawn, with McKinley making 17 and 4-1-12-0, while the YMCA man made 8no and took 3-83 off 22 overs.

Loughborough also hosted Cambridge MCCU in a universities league game which was abandoned. This week Cambridge were without their Irishmen for the two day game in which Gamble was in a brilliant form, returning 21.5-8-57-5 (McKinley 8-1-29-0) as Cambridge were dismissed for 178.

Loughborough declared on 347-5 before Gamble was at it again, taking three wickets in his first six overs. He finished with 12-4-29-5 in an easy innings win, giving him 10-86 in the match.

The Ireland Under-19 bowler has now taken 50 wickets in the season so far, an astonishing number with ten days still left in May.