This transpired to be the only international match played in 1964. The annual match against Scotland had been scheduled for August. However, not a ball could be bowled in it due to continuous rain over the three days.
The first decision made by the selectors was to change captain. AJ O'Riordan, aged only 24, was relieved of the captaincy after three seasons and 12 matches. He was replaced by Donald Pratt, taking over the captaincy in only his fourth match. In 1948 NC Mahony had taken over the captaincy in only his third match. In the Irish team GA Duffy regained the all-rounder's place from JA O'Meara. HC McCall was a new cap. In 1963 he created history by scoring a century in each innings for Ulster against Munster in Cork.
This match was a splendid game which, despite being reduced to 2 days by the weather, produced an exciting finish. Set 164 to win in 120 minutes Ireland were 16 runs short with two wickets in hand when time ran out. Stevenson, now available, came into the Irish team. MCC had four new players. RA Gale was the Middlesex opening batsman; D Straw, the wicket-keeper; MH Rose had been one of MH Stevenson's protégés at Pocklington School and had played in this season's Varsity match; DJ Mordaunt had played for Free Foresters against Ireland at Rathmines in 1957. GH Chesterton played but for the first time in Ireland since 1954 he was not the captain. PI Bedford took over. Both PBH May and MJK Smith were to have played for MCC but were unable to do so at the last moment.
Saturday's play was washed out and, by Monday, the wicket was a trifle slow but surprisingly solid. This was the first match played by Ireland on the splendid Clontarf CC ground. The arrangements and facilities were excellent. 6 half centuries made in the match reflects the good quality of the wicket although the bowling on neither side was very good. Four of these half centuries were for Ireland and such a feat had not been achieved since 1928.
Pratt lost his first toss for Ireland but this was not a bad thing in what was now a two-day match. Endean and Gale got MCC away to a good start and put on 54 in an hour. Hunter then caught and bowled Endean in his fourth over and had Gale caught at mid-on in his next. A shower caused a 20 minute delay and, at lunch, the score was 85-2. At 90 Phebey was caught at the wicket off O'Riordan. Rose never looked happy but stayed with Subba Row while 41 runs were scored. O'Riordan then had him LBW. At 147 Colhoun caught Mordaunt for six. That was a further 10 minutes of rain and then Huey had Straw caught at slip. At the same total Subba Row was out. 170-7-61. He had batted 135 minutes and was the mainstay of the MCC innings. He was caught by Colhoun on the leg side off O'Riordan. Bedford and Duff added a brisk 20 and the declaration came at the tea interval at 190-7. O'Riordan's 3-59 in 26 overs was the best Irish bowling.
When Ireland's batted Bergin was soon LBW to Bailey but McCloy and McCall were soon stroking the ball very well. Neither speed nor spin could tame them and the pair added 74 in just under an hour. McCloy was dropped by Mordaunt at mid-off when 38 but he went to his 50 soon afterwards. Then Bedford caught and bowled him for 52 made out of 86 in 90 minutes. Duffy came in and in the last 23 minutes 39 runs were scored. Duffy, in great form, scored four fours and Subba Row conceded 22 runs in three overs. By close of play Ireland were 125 for two (McCall 41, Duffy 24).
On the second day a contrived finish is all that could be hoped for. MCC, anxious for Ireland to get level and declare, used Duff and Mordaunt and in 55 minutes Ireland added 76 runs. Straw, the MCC wicket-keeper, was ill and unable to play. Endean, who had made his debut for South Africa in 1951 as a wicket keeper, took over and stumped Duffy at 130. Stevenson and Pratt both tried to do too much too soon and were both bowled by Mordaunt. McCall, short and compact, went to his 50 in 117 minutes. O'Riordan played very well and hit Mordaunt for six. He and McCall added 55 in 27 minutes of big hitting. When the lead was gained McCall was 78 and a mistaken attempt was made to give him 100 on debut. The amount of time lost would have ruined the match. Bedford brought on his quicker bowlers and called for the new ball. McCall kept hitting and, fortunately for the match, was bowled by Bailey for 81. Pratt then declared. McCall scored his runs in 140 minutes of punched strokes, a splendid debut.
In 40 minutes before lunch Endean and Gale scored 35. At 42 Hunter caught Endean at cover off Ferguson. Subba Row gave Huey his 99th wicket for Ireland when he was caught by Colhoun at 53. Gale and Phebey scored 61 for the third wicket in 52 minutes. The left-handed Gale did most of the scoring. He went to 50 in 95 minutes and scored 78 out of 114 before being caught at the wicket off Hunter. Rose came in and opened his scoring with a six and scored 39 not out in 47 minutes. This allowed Bedford to declare five minutes before tea reckoning that 164 to win in 120 minutes was fair to both sides. Colhoun took four successive catches behind the wicket in this innings and seven in the match. The previous record number of dismissals by Irish wicket-keeper in a match was 6 by L Hone (caught four stumped two) in 1875!
McCloy and Bergin set sail after a win but with 10 up McCloy was run out trying for a short single. Bergin's batting was a revelation. He struck out with some very good shots and scored his quickest 50 for Ireland. This was his 16th score of over 50 in 90 innings. McCall was stumped at 58 and Pratt bowled, head up, at 75. Bergin hit Bailey for three fours in one over and went to his 50 in 63 minutes. He was bowled by Mordaunt at once, aiming another big hit. Now, with 57 minutes left, 86 runs were needed. Bedford did not the risk his spinners. He kept Chesterton on right through and alternated Bailey and Mordaunt at the other end. Stevenson began to score rapidly in singles and twos with the odd four. O'Riordan scored two fours but was LBW at 87. Ferguson came next, a mistake one feels to put him in above Hunter. This stand added 28 in 22 minutes with Stephenson taking most of the strike. Ferguson was then caught very well by Phebey behind the bowler. 49 were now needed in 31 minutes and the win looked reasonably assured. However, the bowlers ceased to pitch the ball up to Stephenson who is a poor back foot player. Stevenson also pulled a muscle and seem bent on protecting Hunter who saw little of the strike. In 20 minutes 26 were added which was not enough. Hunter was dropped and then caught off a skier and Huey was bowled for 0. Duffy, kept back for an emergency, came in with nine minutes to go and 21 runs required. The chase was called off and Ireland were 148 for eight, 16 runs short, at the finish. It was a good match and the exciting last hour was watched by television viewers.
Stevenson scored 55 not out in 64 minutes. He was dropped three times, once early on by Gerry Kirwan at wide long-on. Kirwan was Ireland's 12th man but fielded for MCC when Straw became ill. Chesterton, aged 42, bowled for 20 successive overs in Ireland's second innings taking 4-65.