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Match Report
Derek Scott

After being bowled out for the lowest score ever at Lords, Ireland recovered well on the second day and drew this match. MH Stevenson, available for the first time in 1963, came into the Irish team and WI Lewis was dropped. MCC had six newcomers to the series. These were ASM Oakman, the Sussex and England player who had played for Sussex against Ireland in 1956; JV Wilson, the former Yorkshire captain, who had retired from first-class play in 1962 after leading his county to 2 championships in three years. Wilson had played for Yorkshire against Ireland in 1959. JH Purves had played for Essex II and IR Lomax for Somerset. Harris was from the Lord's groundstaff and Piachaud, an off-spinner, was then Oxford Blue 1958-1961. Of the others Subba Row had become a most successful Test cricketer and retired from first-class play since he had appeared for MCC in Dublin in 1954 and JM Brearley captained Cambridge University in 1963. This was the 50th match between MCC and Ireland.

Ireland came very much the worse out of the first day's play. They began by being bowled out for 64, 10 minutes after lunch. This was their lowest score ever at Lord's, the previous figure standing at 70 made in 1937. The wicket was not easy. It was hard underneath but had a skin on top. This, and the humid atmosphere, gave the MCC bowlers plenty of movement off the wicket and the odd ball or two also jumped. In reply to Ireland's 64 MCC made 201 for 6 declared in 170 minutes but the wicket had tamed down somewhat possibly under the influence of the heavy roller. In the last half-hour Ireland reduced the gap to 116 and had all their wickets still intact.

Ireland's start was a disaster. After 20 minutes delay for rain both Bergin and McCloy fell to Hall without scoring. McCloy was LBW in Hall's first over, Bergin was caught at the wicket at five and Stevenson met a similar fate off Lomax at 10. Martin and Pratt added 21, the best stand of the innings, and Pratt hit Lomax for two successive fours. After a further 15 minute break for rain Cook came on and took two wickets in his second over. He had Martin caught at slip and bowled O'Meara who played across the line. The unfortunate O'Meara had now made three noughts in his first three innings for Ireland. At 35 Pratt, who was playing well, was out to a magnificent one-handed catch low down at backward square leg by Wilson off a full-blooded pull off Hall. At 41 Cook again took two wickets in an over. He yorked O'Riordan and had Ferguson caught at the wicket. All that remained now was a few hearty blows by Hunter who made 23 out of the last 29 runs. Cook took 4-13 in 11 overs. In all it was a sorry Irish performance despite a rather difficult wicket.

Neither Oakman nor Purves looked in too much difficulty for MCC until Purves a left-hander, snicked Ferguson to Colhoun at 14. Brearley, who made a century in this match last year, came in and looked confident. Hunter came on and in his first over Oakman pulled a short one to square leg where Huey made a fine right handed catch high above his head. 52-2-30. Harris, a stilted young player from the groundstaff, added 28 with Brearley. At 80 Huey had Brearley caught at the wicket for 25. At tea the score was 100-3 with Harris 23 not out having been missed at extra cover off an easy catch to Hunter when only five. Subba Row never looked comfortable and played on to O'Meara at 115. Then followed a splendid innings by the 42-year-old JV Wilson. He started slowly and O'Meara might have had his wicket twice, once stumped and once bowled. Suddenly Wilson livened up and hit O'Meara for 21 in one over. He hit two sixes into the Grandstand and cover drove two fours by picking the gaps. He reached 50 in 45 minutes out of 63 and when MCC declared at 5:50 PM he was still going strong with 69 not out made in 65 minutes. O'Riordan came back to take two wickets and finish with 2-41, the most successful bowler. Harris finished with 44, a slow innings, and he was again missed off another simple catch to Hunter when 39. The unfortunate bowler in both these misses was Huey.

In the last half-hour Ireland scored 21 without loss, McCloy 17, scoring all the runs off the bat. Bergin, having scored nought in the first innings, batted throughout the last half-hour without scoring!

A wet wicket delayed the second day's play for an hour, the wicket had not been covered over night except for the footholds. Conditions were gloomy and sawdust abounded when McCloy and Bergin continued the innings to Cook and Hall. Bergin got off the mark after 10 minutes (40 in all) and avoided a pair. Both openers had some luck. Bergin gave a sharp chance to Lewis at short square leg and another to second slip. McCloy, off successive balls, snicked catches to first slip and gully, both being dropped. The spinners came on but conditions were not ideal for them. However, 15 minutes before lunch Piachaud took a good high catch to catch and bowl McCloy, who had made 41. 77-1-41. The lunch score was 87-1, Bergin 36, Martin 2.

Immediately after lunch Bergin skied Oakman to mid-off where Lomax started too late for the catch. 100 came up in 135 minutes. Bergin reached his first 50 for Ireland at Lord's in 165 minutes. With a possible three hours playing time left Ireland were level. Bergin pulled Oakman on the rise on to the grandstand roof - a massive blow which all but cleared the stand and then Martin straight drove a six off Oakman. Eventually, after a stand of 99, Bergin was caught and bowled by Oakman for 88. He could have made a century but was out in a quest for quick runs. Bergin batted 215 minutes with 13 fours and a six. At 192 Wilson picked up Martin off Piachaud at backward short leg. He had batted two hours for his 41. Stevenson, after a quick 16, holed out to wide long on at 197 and Pratt skied Piachaud to mid-on with the total unchanged. O'Meara got off the mark first ball - his first runs for Ireland. The tea score was 209-5. Hunter, with some luck regarding dropped catches, and O'Meara added 44 for the sixth wicket before O'Meara walked on his wicket after hitting Lewis to the boundary. Ferguson "bagged a pair" when Lewis bowled him and Huey was LBW at 242. Hunter swung the bat and when O'Riordan declared at the fall of Colhoun's wicket Hunter was 40 not out - including a six off Lewis. Hunter had now played four innings at Lord's, been not out three times and scored 174 runs! O'Riordan did not bat due to a sore hand. Piachaud's 6-60 in 30.3 overs was steady bowling.

MCC were given the chance to score 120 in 68 minutes. This declaration would seem to have been dangerous because it only gave MCC a chance to win. Oakman and Purves put on 21 in nine minutes but then Ferguson had Purves and Brearley caught off successive balls. At 26 Oakman was caught at extra cover by Hunter off Ferguson, at 33 O'Riordan caught and bowled Subba Row and at 43 Ferguson wrecked the wicket of Lomax. There were now 35 minutes to go and five wickets were down but Wilson and Harris took no further risks and at 6:25 PM the match ended.