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Match Report
Derek Scott

For the first match of the 1961 Season, SSJ Huey; PA Neville; NC Cantwell and MH Stevenson were not available. The team played as selected.

Ireland suffered a heavy defeat at Leicester, being beaten soon after lunch on the second day. The Leicester players were on a bonus incentive system which included this match and no quarter was shown. The county left out the main fast bowler Spencer and Watson, the captain and former Test player was injured. Ireland were without Huey and Stevenson and included Hool, who had not played for Ireland since 1957, and Bergin on whom suspension was lifted. The experimental rules whereby each side's first innings is restricted to 85 overs was used and Ireland's score of 88 took 55.4 overs while Leicester made 251-8 in exactly 50 overs!

The pitch was bone hard but green on the first morning and the seamers, Boshier, Broughton and Pratt made the ball fly alarmingly. It was not a wicket for Saturday afternoon cricketers and it would have been a good toss to lose. In 19 overs Broughton took 5-22 and there were only seven scoring shots off him. He had nine maidens in his first 10 overs. Only McCloy, Warke and Duffy reached double figures and all three of them were missed, Warke twice. The innings lasted 3 hours. Bergin batted 40 minutes without scoring and was eventually caught behind for a single. 20-1. Next over Martin was bowled, also by Broughan for 0 and Finlay actually had to avert a hat-trick. Two runs later McCloy, 18, was caught at slip off Pratt who had relieved Boshier. Finlay and Warke put on 18 then both left in succession. Finlay was caught at slip for five and Warke bowled by Boshier (on for Broughton) for 14. After lunch Duffy hit four fours, two of them off Broughton and played very well until he took a single off the first ball of an over from Savage and exposed his number 11.

Leicester began at 3:30 PM and the first eight overs from O'Riordan and Bernstein conceded 47 runs to Hallam and Bird. Hallam was very severe on anything short or overpitched. In his third over O'Riordan bowled Hallam 28 out of 34, with six fours, made in 18 minutes. PA Munden was bowled in his seventh over at 60. Bernstein came off after seven overs for 36 runs and, in an hour to tea, 75 were scored. At 5 PM Hope had Bird caught and two runs later Wharton was caught off O'Riordan. 92-4 was not too bad for Ireland but now Jayasinghe from Ceylon and Cromack completely dominated the Irish attack and added 85 in only 42 minutes. Hope and Hool were severely dealt with and both batsman cut and drove beautifully, Jayasinghe in particular advancing to the spinners in splendid fashion and twice he hit Hope for three fours in one over. Duffy came on and in his fourth over had Cromack caught at mid-off by Hool. Cromack had made 43 in 42 minutes with seven fours. With Pratt as partner Jayasinghe continued to force the pace and the sixth wicket added 54 in 30 minutes. Bernstein came back and bowled Pratt at once and, in his next over, Jayasinghe rushed down the wicket and was bowled. This was his only uncultured shot in his innings of 89 made in 85 minutes with 16 fours. He will surely thrill spectators when qualified for Championship play in 1962. The declaration came at 5:35 PM. 75 had been made in the first hour 100 in the second and 76 and the last 45 minutes. No bowler emerged with much credit but it did seem that Duffy might have been tried sooner.

In the remaining period McCloy hit a four in Broughton's first over and was bowled next ball. Colhoun went in as nightwatchman and survived, the closing score being 7-1. Throughout the day glorious sunshine prevailed.

Half an hour after the lunch interval on the second day Leicester won the match by an innings and 51 runs and, but for a last wicket stand, the Irish team would have been dismissed twice for less than 100 runs. As the wicket was now much easier and very few balls lifted the batsman had few excuses but the quality of the batting was never high enough to raise the hopes of a serious fight. Bergin and the night watchman Colhoun began to the bowling of Boshier and Broughton with Ireland needing 156 to avoid an innings defeat. Early on Bergin managed to steal the strike well and shielded Colhoun but when the latter had to face he defended well, although he was not good enough to touch anything he flashed at outside the off stump. Indeed, he showed what he thought of his more established teammates by staying for 70 minutes.

After an hour Pratt came on and in his second over bowled Bergin, 17, with the score at 34. Bergin had suffered a severe blow on the hand in the third over and was out playing an uncharacteristic cross batted slash. Pratt followed this success by dismissing both Martin and Colhoun in his next over. With 3-6 in three overs he was promptly taken off to make way for the left-hander Cromack. One definitely felt that Leicester were prepared to give all their bowlers practice even if it prolonged the match. Wharton had Warke caught in the slips off a lifter and he immediately gave way to the off spinner Savage at which stage the score was 44-5 after being 34-1. Finlay hit both spinners for fours in their first overs but before the end of Savage's first over Finlay played for off spin where no off spin was and he was caught at slip. O'Riordan quickly hit two boundaries and looked like making a score when he badly mistimed Savage and gave short midwicket a running catch, leaving the score 68-7. Duffy and Hool defended stubbornly and 12 overs produced only one scoring stroke, Savage taking 2-8 in nine overs when he came off. Pratt returned and in his second over was struck for four by Duffy off a no-ball but the following delivery saw Duffy caught by the wicket-keeper. Off came Pratt again this time with 4-10 in five overs! Hope and Hool were together at lunch, when the score was 86-8, Hool having made two in 50 minutes. Immediately after the break Broughton bowled Hope. Then Hool and Bernstein added 26 in 20 minutes before the end came at 3:15 PM after less than half the allotted time for the match had been used.