The Triple Crown
The Triple Crown week was a great disappointment to Irish cricketers and travelling supporters. We were the only side not to play a game. Scotland played 2, winning both and defeating us in a bowl-out and thus won the Triple Crown, while England and Wales were only able to complete one game each. The ridiculous thing was, Scotland beat us 4-3 in the bowl-out and had the score been reversed, as it easily could have been, we would have won the competition.
When I heard last year that the tournament was to be held in North Wales, I had my doubts as to its efficient organisation, especially in the case of bad weather. Ireland's experience of North Wales is not good. The first time we were there was to Colwyn Bay and there we got one day's play out of three due to poor covering, even on a county ground. Next was a three day game at Marchwiel which we won despite dodging in and out of showers. Then we went to Menai Bridge where not a ball was bowled and this time the same thing happened. We were to play two games at Brymbo, when we arrived there was no chance of play because the ground is at the bottom of a hill and the water had flowed across the square. If there was any more rain we could not play on the second day either. There was more and, despite Irish complaints about an alternative venue, and despite Colwyn Bay being put on standby, the game was abandoned on the second morning. Some Scottish officials, for something to do, travelled down to Colwyn Bay to find the pitch playable and the ground officials and caterers waiting for a phone call to confirm the game. Organised chaos!
On the third morning our new venue, Northop Hall, having shipped a week's rain might have been able to stage a 20 over game in late afternoon but by this time everyone was fed-up and only too pleased to accept an early flight home.
One of the problems in North Wales was that the Welsh Association did not have the co-operation of many local clubs, covering at the grounds in use was inadequate and communications were diabolical. We will have to think again before taking important competitions to outlying areas. At least when the Triple Crown was staged in Belfast and rain intervened other clubs were willing and actually did take on games at short notice.
Last week in Donaghadee a remarkable cricket feat took place. 'Dee were playing Millpark, the leading team in Section 3 of the NCU Senior League, a side containing Alan and Noel Nelson plus David Dennison, all ex-internationals. 'Dee were not expected to win. Johnny Hewitt and Mark Williamson put on 218 for the first wicket, a Donaghadee record, of which Mark made 87. The team went on to amass 369 for 3, another record of which Johnny Hewitt made 238 not out. To my knowledge, this has only been beaten once in Irish cricket, last year by Decker Curry, who scored 260 not out v CYM of Dublin the Royal Liver Cup. Congratulations to Donaghadee, who won easily, and to Johnny, who must surely come into future considerations by the Ulster selectors.
Trescothick makes an impact
The one-day triangular series going on at the moment has turned up a name for England that I had never heard any pundit mention before - Marcus Trescothick. He did extremely well (79 and 49) in the first two games and must have put his name in the frame for the next test match. A former captain of the England Under 19 side, he was talked about 4 or 5 years ago but did not seem to make progress until this season. He played against Ireland a few seasons ago for Somerset in the Benson & Hedges Cup at Eglinton, scored a few runs and impressed us all with his uncomplicated style. He stands up straight and hits the ball hard and could be an asset to this inconsistent English batting.