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Match Report
Derek Scott

This was the first time Ireland had played Middlesex. The county brought their full team including five Test players. Their captain FJ Titmus had done sterling all-round work for England in recent years. He had already played in 44 tests and had over 1100 runs and 130 wickets. PH Parfitt, the left-handed batsman, had played 33 tests, with 1722 runs and seven centuries. The wicket-keeper, JT Murray, had stood in the shadow of JH Parks of Sussex, but had played in 16 tests. JSE Price, the fast bowler, was recovering from a prolonged injury. In his 10 Tests to date he had taken 26 wickets at an average of 40. Lastly, WE Russell, the opening batsman, had played in nine Tests including two in 1966. Middlesex also included two West Indians, RW Stewart, a fast bowler, and HC Latchman, a leg-spinner. The county had not done as well as it might in recent years and usually occupied a middle of the table position.

Ireland made seven changes from the team which played against Hampshire at the end of 1965. SF Bergin, after playing for Ireland 53 times between 1949 and 1965, suddenly announced his retirement from all cricket in May 1966. In 98 innings he scored 2524 runs at an average of 27.73 with two centuries. WR Hunter received an arm injury playing rugby and played no cricket at all in 1966. Dineen, Finlay, Goodwin and Hughes were dropped. In place of them came O'Brien, Pigot, Anderson and Torrens, all new caps. O'Brien, a batsman, had been on the fringe for a year or two. Pigot was now 37 years of age and the son of DR Pigot Senior who played 20 times for Ireland between the wars. The younger Pigot is a stylish opening batsman. Anderson, a batsman from Queens University, and Torrens, an opening bowler from the North West area, had both been doing well in Guinness Cup matches. The Guinness Cup is the new regional competition which started this year. Finally, SSJ Huey was made captain instead of Pratt. Huey had led the North West well in the Guinness Cup matches of 1966 but had not been too effective as Ireland's captain in the 1960 season. In fact Huey cried off and Pratt took back the captaincy. Huey was replaced by C.V.Corry. Corry had not played for Ireland since 1962 but even more remarkable was the recall of FSA Hewitt who had last played (in fact his only cap) as a fast bowler against MCC in 1955 - an 11 year gap!

The weather was glorious for both days but the crowds were small, with the gate being only 110. The wicket looked hard and flat but it always gave the bowlers some help. Middlesex put Ireland in. McCall and Pigot started well against Stewart and Price. McCall hit Price's first ball, a full toss, to mid-wicket for four. Pigot got off the mark with his first ball also. In 25 minutes 19 were scored when McCall edged Stewart to Clark at second slip. Anderson came in and soon Titmus and Latchman were on with their spinners. At 31 Pigot, who had done well, played an awful shot at Latchman and was caught at the wicket. 31-2-15. At 38 Monteith let one go from Titmus which bowled him - in fact it was a straight ball. Bick, another off-spinner, came on for Titmus and Pratt had difficulty getting off the mark. At 56, when Pratt was nine, he was missed by Latchman off Bick - a very easy catch at mid-on. A little later Murray, wicket-keeper, also dropped Pratt off Stewart. Next ball Parfitt, at second slip, repaired the harm. 66-4-16. Anderson, meanwhile, had played well and was 28 not out at lunch. The score was 76-4, with O'Brien 0 not out.

Price and Titmus bowled after lunch. Price was much faster than in his first spell. Three times in one over he went "through" O'Brien and, next over, yorked him. 81-5-1. Pick and Latchman came back to bowl. Anderson began to mistime and eventually edged Latchman to Parfitt at slip. His first innings for Ireland created a most favourable impression. He batted 92 minutes for 36. Corry was out to the first ball he faced, helping it around the corner to Smith off Bick. The end was now near. Hewitt was caught at the wicket off Latchman at 105 (he was lunging); Colhoun was caught by Titmus at short square leg off Bake at 108. Finally, at 113, O'Riordan was out. He cut hard at Bick and got an edge, and Parfitt did well to hold a catch close up at slip. O'Riordan had batted well and scored 23 out of the 32 which the last five wickets added. Ireland had, in all, batted 190 minutes.

At 3:37 pm Russell and Smith opened for Middlesex to O'Riordan and Torrens. Smith gave a half chance to Pigot at slip off Torrens when he was seven, but Pigot was not used to fielding at slip. 25 went up in 30 minutes and, at tea, which came at 4:30 pm, the score was 48. Immediately afterwards Colhoun dropped Smith off the unfortunate Torrens. At 58 Torrens had Smith, 27, caught at cover and at 61 Russell, 33, was caught at extra cover hitting Torrens on the rise. Hewitt came on at 68 and his third ball, a full toss, bowled Clark. Murray and Parfitt were now together. At 91, when Parfitt was 18, Monteith dropped him at slip off Hewitt - a most vital catch. At 6 pm Middlesex went into the lead. Murray played a delightful innings. He scored exactly 50 in 75 minutes (dropped at 32 off a skier to mid-on by Pratt. Pratt injured his finger). This was Murray's first match for a month after a leg injury. He was LBW to Hewitt on a full toss which again injured his leg. Murray and Parfitt added 94 in 75 minutes and Ireland's badly balanced attack was shown up. Parfitt reached 50 in 100 minutes. Hewitt, the bowler, then ran out Bennett at the wicket-keeper's end. At close of play, 7 pm, Middlesex were 189-5, Parfitt 69 and Bick 1.

The play began at 11 am in sunny weather on the second day. Hewitt bowled one over and then O'Riordan and Torrens shared the attack. At 195 Bick was caught by Colhoun off O'Riordan. Parfitt soon began to hit out. 200 went up. At 218 when Parfitt was 93 he turned O'Riordan to leg. Colhoun caught the ball but there was no appeal. Parfitt walked out. Titmus took 28 minutes to score and was dropped at gully by Corry off O'Riordan when two. The new ball was taken in the 66th over. Titmus drove at Torrens and Anderson took a good diving catch at cover. 236-8-14. O'Riordan bowled Stewart and Torrens took his fourth wicket when he bowled Latchman on the stroke of noon.

Smith kept wicket for Middlesex in Ireland's second innings due to Murray's injury. At four Pigot was caught by the substitute wicket-keeper off Stewart - the ball lifted a little. McCall played badly. He kept backing away from Price who was lifting nastily and was eventually bowled. Anderson and O'Riordan (promoted to number four) were now together. Soon the spinners were on but this pair added 45 in 48 minutes. Anderson should have been stumped off Titmus when he was 17 but both batted well. Bick came on and in his first over Titmus took a splendid catch at short square leg to end O'Riordan's innings. 49-3-21. The lunch score was 59-3, Anderson 24 and Monteith 7.

The match lasted a further hour and a half in which 53 runs were scored, Bick took five more wickets and the last four wickets to fall were all "caught Titmus bowled Bick". At 60 Monteith did not get into line to Price and was taken at the wicket. Anderson and Pratt added 20 when Anderson tried a big hit off Titmus. He was not at the pitch of the ball and was caught at mid-on for 37. He had been in 100 minutes for his 37 and in his first match had top scored in each innings. Sporting a beard he is most distinctive and is an outstanding fielder. At 87 Pratt tried to sweep Bick from off to leg and gave Smith his third catch at the wicket. Then came Titmus, in the short leg area, and Bick's offspinners to take the last four wickets. Torrens, at number 11, made 12 not out and was only the third batsman to reach double figures in the innings. O'Brien was last out having batted almost an hour for six. Bick who usually plays for Middlesex II's, took 6-19 in 12.5 overs with his offspinners. The Irish batting technique left a lot to be desired and some players seemed to play well below their club form. The Middlesex team was very popular and seemed to enjoy their stay.

While it was not to be known at this stage, when they were all earning their first caps, in fact the four new Irish caps ended up with 212 caps between them - Anderson 86, O'Brien 52, Pigot 44 and Torrens 30.

Ormeau, Belfast