For the second year in a row the Ulster Schools trial was washed out. In this season it would have been a surprise had it been otherwise but the effect was to reduce the bank of wisdom which was available to the Selectors when it came to picking the Team for the Inter-provincial and the tour squad. Further complications were provided by the co-incidence of the Irish Under 19 (which is actually an Under 18) trip to Oundle and the Ulster Schools tour, and the ever present problem of examinations. Bearing this latter point in mind it seems certain that the trial will continue to be scheduled for a Saturday for in all conscience it would be unreasonable to ask pupils to give up a week- day at this peak exam. time were it even possible to find a day when all the Cricketing candidates were not being academically examined!
From just over 30 nominations 2 teams had been selected for the Trial which was to have been held at Osborne Park on 15th. June. For this William Porterfield was not available; he subsequently has made himself un-available for all the Ulster Schools activities. Timothy Cockram and Mark Gleghorne were committed to the Irish Under 18 Hockey squad who are in Amsterdam for the week of the Schools Inter-pro and so effectively they were also out of contention. Nicky Cooke of Foyle who performed with such distinction for the Ulster Schools last year is away to Australia with his rugby team, which also ruled out his School captain David Fleming. They may have been other unavailabilities, and certainly there was a lack of concrete information on form caused by the gross lack of cricket permitted by the weather.
To move the process forward 2 'exclusive' sides were selected for the 'warm up' fixtures v MCC and The Leprechauns, and the final choices postponed until after these. The MCC match took place at Campbell College on Tuesday 18 June, and even this had to be compromised somewhat for it was necessary for the BRA v Strabane GS Cup match to be played on the same afternoon.
A strong MCC (would it ever be different?!) batting line up scored 196 for 3 declared. Michael Rea and Alan Waite, Ulster Schools colleagues many years ago, put on 155 for the first wicket, Waite falling tantalising close to his century for 94. A fine pick up and accurate throw by Tweed sent the luckless assistant cricket secretary back to Lord's without troubling the marker! Some heavy showers ate into the time available to the Schools' side but the reply was spirited and most of the batsmen were able to show technique,talent and temperament. Duddy and Tweed (4 fours in his 29) put on 45 for the first wicket, McKenzie a bustling 19, but the jewel was Richard Sterling's 36 not out which contained 4 fours and a six.
All in all a useful exercise; many thanks are due to Campbell for their staging of the match, and considering the prolific rainfall the wicket was a credit to Mike Quee‚s groundsmanship.
Wednesday 26 June, the opposition were the Leprechauns and the venue Methody's ground at Pirrie Park. Once again it was thanks to the work of the Groundsman (Beattie Arlow) that a meaningful afternoon's cricket was possible. The Leprechauns featured several overseas professionals so the achievement of tdismissing them for 138 runs was considerable. All the bowlers performed well though it was the spinners who obtained the most impressive figures. They were well supported in the field, the catching being almost word perfect. In cold conditions and with the wicket gripping as it dried out a bit the batsmen found conditions difficult but held out for a comfortable draw once again.