Despite rain, cold and grey clouds the first Irish visit for a match at Eglinton was a cricketing experience. It was the first ever match at Eglinton (founded in 1931 by Dr. AH Montgomery) and the first in the North West since 1970. MCC had refused to play in the border town of Strabane due to the political troubles. The entire MCC side plus it's President, David Clark, stayed in the home of the ICU President, Michael Nicholson QC, at Ardmore. On the first night there was a dinner at the Glen House Hotel in Eglinton at which Dr. Montgomery presented the MCC with silver cufflinks with Eglinton's crest. On the second night the North of Ireland Sports Council staged a buffet reception, also in Mr. Nicholson's house.
Ireland brought in Michael Halliday and left out Hughes. The latter returned when Corlett cried off injured. MCC had five new players, the most famous of whom was Conrad Hunte (aged 46) who had opened for the West Indies from 1957-67 and scored 3245 runs at an average of 45.06 with eight centuries. He had played for West Indies against Ireland in 1963. Don Wilson played for Yorkshire against Ireland in 1959. As slow left armer, now 40, he played in six Tests and was now chief coach at Lords indoor school. WG Merry, opening bowler, paid for Hertfordshire, Lloyds for Worcester Seconds and Sandrock for Essex Seconds.
It rained through Friday night and until 10:30 AM on Saturday. Because the wicket was covered play began only 68 minutes late on a dry if somewhat green wicket. Millett put Ireland in and Reith and Short put on 109 for the first wicket. Merry, Wing, Mence and Wilson all had a bowl. Reith was in great form and was 36 to Short's 18 at lunch after 74 minutes play. At 81 rain stopped play for half an hour. Short, when 27, put a chance between wicket-keeper and first slip off Wilson. Millett came on at 88 and Reith went to his 50 in 112 minutes. 100 came up in the 38th over in 114 minutes. Then Short was caught at the wicket off Millett for 38 with the total at 109. O'Brien came in and played well at once. At 126 Reith, when 74, was missed by Millett off his own bowling. At tea, taken at 4:15 PM, 53 overs had been bowled for 148 runs, Reith 78, O'Brien 16
On they went with O'Brien pulling Wilson for four and driving a six over long-on next ball. With his second century within reach, Reith scooped Wing to mid-on with the total at 175. His 89 occupied 192 minutes and he faced 197 balls. He hit 14 boundaries in a fine attacking chanceless innings. Anderson came in and another good stand of 53 ensued in just an hour. 200 came up in 228 minutes and O'Brien went to his third 50 in his last five Irish matches. He had been in for 170 minutes. He was at once dropped by Millett at slip off Lloyds - a dolly. Lloyds, at cover, dropped him off Wing in the next over. Mence came on and bowled Anderson (28) with his first ball at 228. It was a wild attempt at a pull. Merry replaced Wing and saw Harpur, one, dropped at the wicket with Morris standing back. At 239 O'Brien guided a slow full toss to Marshall at square leg. O'Brien's elegant 56 took 145 minutes with a six and eight fours. The new ball (85 overs) was taken at 240. Ireland now needed quick runs up to close of play. In the next 33 minutes 33 runs were scored - mostly to Harpur who finished with 24 not out. Harte was caught and bowled by Mence at 261 while trying to force the pace and Monteith was run out at 272. Ireland had done very well but there was an argument for a short bowling spell at MCC before the close. Wing conceded only 35 runs in 24 overs and Mence took 3-38 in nine overs.
Sunday was cold and grey and 62 minutes were lost to rain in the pre-lunch period. MCC spent four overs less that Ireland in scoring 176 all out. The first wicket stand of 72 was largely responsible for MCC's total. The next best stand was 22. The wicket was covered overnight and at all times when it rained. A dropped catch at deep square leg in the fourth over cost Ireland a lot of runs. The bowler was Hughes, the culprit Harpur, the batsman Sandrock, then one, and the score only three. The first rain break came, lasting 13 minutes, in the seventh over when the score was 10. Then nine balls were bowled before there was a further 49 minute break. Lunch came at 1:40 PM with the score at 41 off 20 overs, all except one bowled by Elder and Hughes. Hunte was 21, Sandrock 17.
Elder continued after lunch and in all bowled 16 overs for 25 runs. Hughes bowled 13 overs for 26. Soon Monteith and Halliday were bowling together and they continued up to the end of the innings. Halliday, in 15 previous matches, had taken 34 wickets. Now he took 10 more in this one match. MCC were probably intent on declaring behind but they did not wish to be 96 runs in deficit, which is what transpired. Halliday came on with the total at 52 but it was Monteith who took the first wicket in the 41st over. Sandrock (27) was caught at slip after batting for 129 minutes. Groves scored three of his first ball and was out 31 minutes later with his score still at three. 100 came up in 176 minutes. Then, with the total at 106, Halliday deceived Hunte and bowled him. He had been in for 183 minutes without a mistake for his 69 which included 10 boundaries. A 34 minute rain break with the total on 98 possibly disturbed Hunte. This break included the tea interval.
At 108 Monteith bowled Marshall and Halliday removed Lloyds and Millett quickly. 118-6. Mence and Wilson added 22. As 125 Elder dropped Mence, then six, off a skier from Monteith at mid-on. Wilson was caught and bowled by Halliday with the total at 140 and Mence was caught off Monteith with the total at 151. Morris collected 28 of the last 36 runs and was dropped twice off Halliday, once by Elder at cover when the total was 166 and one run later by Monteith at mid-on. A tumbling catch in front of the sightscreen by Harte removed Wing and Merry was bowled to give Halliday 7-58 in 31.2 successive overs - a fine sustained spell.
34 minutes remained for Ireland to bat. With 19 minutes to go, and the score at six, Millett agreed with the batsmen that it was too dark. Ireland seemed to be wasting their own batting time with this appeal.
Next morning Ireland had to hustle to get MCC in again with time to bowl them out. It was a short day scheduled to run from 11 AM to 5 PM. The first pair again did very well and put on 56 in 66 minutes At 19 Short was missed by the wicket keeper off Merry. At 56 Wilson bowled Reith for 19 and at 72 O'Brien was stumped. In the 80s three wickets fell. Anderson was LBW at 80 to Wilson. At 85 in the same over from Millet, Harpur was LBW and Harte played on trying to sweep. 85-5 at this stage was too low a score. Monteith and Short added 23. Short went to 50 in 170 minutes and was eventually caught off Wilson for a very fine 56. Millett bowled Hughes for 0. Then Monteith went after Millett hitting him for 10 in one over. Millett's next over was the last and Monteith hit the last four balls for 2-6-4-4. He was 31 when he declared with the total on 143-7 at 1:05 PM.
MCC had 25 minutes before lunch and, in all, had 125 minutes +20 overs to get 240 - a task of roughly 4 an over. Hughes bowled Sandrock in his first over and, after lunch, MCC were eight in seven overs. Hunte was the sheet anchor. He batted right through without blemish and the scheme was to strike at the other end. If Hunte got out, even towards the end, Ireland would have won. As it was MCC had two wickets left and were 33 runs short of victory after 63 overs had been bowled. It could be said that if Hunte, always in command, had risked more then he might have seen MCC home by himself. He hit 11 fours in his 61 not out but played too many maidens and he faced almost exactly half the number of balls bowled - 186 out of 378.
Monteith came on with the total on 19 and Halliday at 46. Groves hit Halliday's first ball for four to bring up 50 and was bowled leg stump by the next. 50-2-36. Hunte was now 11. Lloyds came in and 52 more were added in only 29 minutes In two overs the score went from 54 to 80, Hunte hitting Monteith for three fours and Lloyds had two fours and a six off Halliday. At 86 Lloyds (23) was missed at the screen by Harpur of an extraordinarily high hit. At 102 Lloyds slashed at Halliday and was caught by Colhoun. 102-3-39. Hunte was now 24. Marshall hit three fours and was run out by O'Brien who hit the bowler's wicket from 20 yards. 118-4-12. Morris came next and another stand of 50 followed of which Morris made 33.
The final minimum 20 overs began with MCC needing 98 to win. Elder came back for Monteith to bowl the fourth over of these 20. Morris hit the first three balls each for four and was bowled by the last ball of the over. 168-5-33. Hunte was now 46. He was joined by Wilson and the rate slowed. When Morris was out 72 were needed off 16 overs. Hunte went to his 50 in 150 minutes Wilson could not time the ball, despite two big sixes off Monteith who had replaced Halliday. In the 12th over of the final 20 Wilson was bowled by Monteith. 189-6-12. Only 21 runs came in this stand and Hunte was now 50. With eight overs to be bowled MCC needed 51 runs. Elder had Mence caught by Colhoun at the end of the 14th over. 196-7-5. Hunte was now 52. Halliday came back and bowled Millett at 203 with 10 balls to go. Wing played out Halliday's remaining four balls. Monteith bowled the last over. Hunte slammed the last ball over mid-off for four to complete 61 not out in 197 minutes.
This was an interesting match on a good wicket. Ireland were unable to press home the first innings advantage. If Hunte had not played for MCC or if Corlett had been playing for Ireland, a win might have been recorded. Halliday completed match figures of 10-126 in 49.2 overs - by far his most successful bowling figures. Monteith did not bowl up to his usual standard.