MCC's first match against Ireland in Belfast since 1928 and the first Irish win in Ireland since 1961 over MCC. These were the bare facts of this match. The MCC team was weak. Needham, Lanchbury, Groves, Cass and Millett had all played before. Of the newcomers, MD O'Neill, on the MCC ground staff, was the son of Australian Test star Norman. GK Robertson, a New Zealander, Asif Din from Pakistan and RJ Finney were also on the staff. Savage, age 24, was an Oxford Blue. A quickish off spinner he was the only MCC bowler suitable for the rather damp overcast conditions. Ireland played their normal team of the past few seasons. Messrs. Hollywood, Humphreys and Majury sponsored the match for £1,500.
The start was delayed 30 minutes because of wet surrounds and a damp wicket. There had been much rain in Belfast for a week. Short and Reith began to Robertson and Finney (left arm). A no-ball in the first over from Robertson bowled Short with no change of stroke evident. Scoring was brisk and even between the two batsmen. Savage replaced Finney for the 16th over. O'Neill had relieved Robertson and in his second over he bowled Reith. 45-1-20.
The lunch score, after 90 minutes, was 53-1, (Short 28 O'Brien 0). After lunch Savage began to take wickets, as the pitch dried. He bowled Short (28) with the total on 53 when he hit across the line, head in the air. At 61 Anderson (4) was LBW to a ball he tried to put to leg and it kept low. Harrison was dropped at leg slip by Millett. O'Brien, after a careful 24 in 79 minutes off 91 deliveries, walked to a legside close-up wicket keeping catch. It is doubtful if the umpire could have given him out. 86-4-24. Savage now had 3-21 in 15.1 overs. Needham had four overs of off breaks and then Robertson returned. 100 came up in the 51st over. With the total on 114 Harrison flicked at a wide ball from Robertson without moving his feet and was caught by Cass at the wicket. 114-5-20. This saw the end of the MCC successes. In a half an hour to tea 36 were added and Monteith was dropped at gully.
The tea score, after 64 overs, was 150-5, Johnston 29, Monteith 17. After tea Johnston began to play extremely well. He added 43 more runs of 72 scored in the next 15 overs bowled by Din (leg breaks) and Finney. 200 came up in 76.1 overs, the second 100 taking only 25 overs. Savage came back at 206 and saw Monteith (38) dropped by Needham on the midwicket boundary. At 222, having added 108, Johnston was LBW to Finney. In his highest score to date for Ireland he batted 108 minutes, faced 115 deliveries, and hit 10 boundaries in a chanceless innings. Savage, at once, dropped Corlett (0) on a caught and bowled opportunity. Monteith got 46 in 83 minutes and was then caught off Savage with the total on 234. Halliday helped Corlett add 19 and he himself hit two fine straight fours before giving Savage his fifth wicket. The declaration came at 5:48 PM at 256-8 scored in 87 overs. Savage had 5-71 in 27 overs.
Needham (3) and Lanchbury (11) successfully played out 10 overs from Corlett and Elder, leaving the close of play score on day one at 15-0. There were showers before play started on the second day. Two wickets fell quickly. Needham (4) was LBW to Corlett on the front foot with the score on 17 and Gutteridge (0) at 23 was caught and bowled by Corlett off the edge of the bat. Lanchbury was playing carefully and well and O'Neill began to play a few shots. Halliday and Monteith were tried and then, at 80, Anderson replaced Halliday. With the last ball of his first over he had O'Neill (26) LBW to a ball which kept low. 80-3-26. Corlett came back for Monteith with the score on 97. At 99 two wickets fell. Corlett had Groves LBW with a slower ball and the patient Lanchbury (57) played on to Anderson. In his next over, with the score on 102, Anderson bowled Cass with a full toss which hit the base of the stumps. Anderson now had 3-10 in seven overs.
Lunch was taken with the total on 102-6, Din 2 Millett 0 after 49 overs. After two more overs when play resumed rain stopped play for 45 minutes, the wicket at all stages being fully covered. Din took seven off one over from Corlett. Then Halliday replaced Anderson (3-15 in nine overs) and at once bowled Din (16). 119-7. Monteith replaced Corlett and bowled Finney with the score on 130. Robertson then came in and hit 29 of the last 36 runs scored including sixes off both Halliday and Monteith. Monteith caught and bowled Millett (16) with the total on 155 off a higher tossed ball. At 166 the innings ended when Short threw the ball to the bowler, Elder, to run out Robertson. 166 had come in 69.5 overs. Tea was then taken.
When Short and Reith began again there were 128 minutes left and the lead was 90. Short was lucky in Robertson's first over when he got a four between the wicket-keeper and slip. At 15 he was LBW for 11 when he went back and across. Reith got 19 fairly quickly before O'Neill bowled him in his second over with the total on 47. Reith is now bringing the bat down with the a twirl which causes a gap. Anderson joined O'Brien. Both were in good form and in 23 more overs added 71 before the close of play, which came with the score on 118-2, O'Brien 39, Anderson 33.
With six hours remaining to play on the third day and a lead of 208 it became a question of when a declaration might come. 60 runs were added in 73 minutes off 21 overs. Except for one over at the end O'Neill and Savage did all the bowling. O'Brien reached a good 50 in 141 minutes. Having added 102 with Anderson he was caught at short midwicket for 54. This came in 148 minutes with six fours. O'Neill accounted for Harrison (5) LBW with the score on 156 and bowled Johnston (3) with the total on 160. Monteith hit 14 of the next 18 before the declaration came at 178-5. Anderson only scored 18 this morning and was 51*at the close - his 17th score of 50 or more for Ireland, equalling the record of SF Bergin.
MCC had 197 minutes plus a minimum of 20 overs to get 269 to win. In 12 overs up to lunch they lost Lanchbury for 18. He snicked Elder to Monteith at second slip. The latter knocked the ball up and Reith at first slip completed the catch. 14-1-4. Corlett was not feeling well and left the field, Monteith taking over. He and Elder bowled unchanged to the end. The MCC collapse began in the second over after lunch. Din was bowled by Elder for 2 with the total on 20. In Monteith's next over Needham was caught by Reith at first slip, a beautiful left-handed diving catch. In Elder's following over Cass was caught by Monteith at second slip. Three wickets had fallen at 20. At 24 Groves was bowled by Elder playing a terrible sliced shot. Elder had taken 3-0 in 11 balls. O'Neill began to hit and took three successive fours off Monteith. The 50 had now come up. Then Elder bowled Gutteridge. At 53 Anderson dived low to his right to catch O'Neill off Elder. 53-7-28. At 59 Corlett caught Millett behind the bowler, Monteith. A stand of 32 ensued between Finney and Robertson. With the total on 85 Harrison dropped Robertson off Monteith at deep long-on, the ball going for six. Next bowled Robertson was stumped. With the total on 92 Short missed Savage at short leg thus depriving Elder of a seventh wicket.
Next over Monteith had Savage caught by Corlett at deep mid-off. The match finished at 3:17 PM. After 14 overs Elder had 6-21. As he tired he was hit for 22 in the next six and finished with figures of 6-43 in 20 overs. Monteith's haul of 4-42 came in 16.3 overs.