Examination weather is not normally so conducive to study, and so unsuitable for cricket as that of this May. It will be interesting to see if there is any correlation between lack of cricketing opportunities and an upsurge in grades, though I would remain somewhat sceptical. It is now more than a fortnight since our School 1st XI took the field, and even longer since any of our club teams performed. I have not yet received my bundle of marking which, no doubt will coincide with the start of the Second Test, and an improvement in the weather. At least I won't be distracted by watching the trials and tribulations of England's new white hopes.
For the 'wannabe' Ulster Schools players there is much to look forward to, for the late June early July period provides chances-a plenty for those with talent and ambition. Saturday 15th. June is the date for this year's Schools Trial which will be held at Osborne Park rather than the more usual setting of the Castle Grounds. It is well to be spoiled for choice in venues as the Schools' Committee are. The money spent by Inst on their square which has given their wickets a bit more pace and bounce and the fact that they possess excellent covers have prompted this switch.
On the Tuesday of the succeeding week Ulster Schools will face the MCC Last season this game was staged with great aplomb by the Waringstown Club at the Lawn. Now it has reverted to its more regular setting at Campbell College. It remains to be seen what sort of a selection the Ulster Schools can muster for at that time there will be several candidates still in the throes of examinations but one man's difficulty is always another's opportunity, and since it is unlikely that the Selectors will finalise their interprovincial selection until after these warm up games it will be all to play for.
The work that Methodist College, and their revered groundsman Beattie Arlow, have put in to the new square at Pirrie Park has been noted. As a result the fixture v The Leprechauns has been revived and will be held on Wednesday 26 June at that venue. By this stage examinations should be all but over, and with rather fewer than usual schools on tour that week, an XI close to that envisaged for the Inter-Provincial match will be fielded.
The Southern Schools have not agreed to continue with the 2-day format employed last season, which seems a pity denying those taking part a unique opportunity to further their cricketing education. Since the Senior Inter-pros. are embarking on the same adventure this year, and it is generally acknowledged (at last!) that there is a necessity to experience this more protracted form of the game if we are to re-develop true cricketing skills in this country, this seems a pity. As a result there will only be a single one day match this year; the portents are, however , quite good that next year's contest will be over two days. It must be admitted that the Ulster Schools do enjoy an advantage in the number of top class School grounds which they can call upon, whilst in Dublin there is still the need to seek the good offices of a Club venue. Could College Park not be the solution to this difficulty? The bottom line is that this year's venue is the delightful setting of the Hills , near Skerries, and the date Wednesday 3 July.
The Irish Schools party for the trip to Yorkshire from 15-17 July will be selected after the inter-pro. By that time Ulster Schools will have chosen the 'lucky 13' players going on their trip to Durham from 8-13 July. For those fortunate enough to make the national side it will be, indeed,a busy time. Ulster will be based in the City of Durham and are playing North Yorkshire Schools at Richmond, Durham Schools in the City (two one-day matches), and Cumbrian Under 19s at Sedbergh School. With all this to enjoy it's off to the marking and report writing and see what you can do about that weather!