Three glorious days of sunshine greeted Scotland's first visit to Northern Ireland since 1971. Scotland did well for a day and a half but ultimately Ireland won comfortably to equal the series at 18 wins each. The wicket was good, if slow and low with little bounce. Both teams were below strength. Ireland were short Anderson (holidays), Masood (business) and Cohen (gone to Glamorgan CCC). Masood had been selected but cried off and was replaced by David Dennison, a young 21-year-old batsman from Waringstown. Scotland had two last-minute substitutes, McPate and McIntyre, neither of whom bowled well. Arrangements in Downpatrick were very good with receptions by the Department of Education and the Down District Council. The crowd was extremely good - much better that could be hoped for at any other venue.
Scotland won the toss and batted for almost 6 hours (118 overs) to make 277-6. They got a bad start (18-2) but after a recovery they never really accelerated and should have made at least 50 runs more. Racionzer, recalled for his 13th match against Ireland, scored 115 in 256 minutes He hit 5 sixes and 13 fours but twice suffered cramp and was not anxious to run quick singles. He was, however, the mainstay of the innings. Blame must lie on Warner who made 70 in 187 minutes and only speeded up towards the end. In the last half-hour of the innings only 10 runs were scored. All the Irish bowlers kept a tight rein and Scotland could not even reach 2.5 runs per over.
At 11 Donald was LBW to Corlett and Harrison bowled Kennedy (who tried to cut a straight ball) when the total was 18. Racionzer and Swan set about a slow careful recovery. Corlett (1-10 in eight overs) was replaced by Monteith and Harrison (1-14 in 10 overs) by Halliday. By lunch (taken after 135 minutes) 46 overs had been bowled and Scotland were 89-2, Racionzer 38, Swan 32. Corlett came back for Monteith with the total on 75-2 and, in his second over, Swan was dropped by Short at second slip, chest high. Swan then was 22 and the total 76. For over an hour after lunch Monteith and Halliday bowled in tandem. 100 came up in the 52nd over but at 108 Monteith turned one past Swan who had made 39 in 127 minutes.
Warner came in and was scoreless for 38 minutes. Racionzer hit a four off Halliday to go to 53 in 147 minutes. Then, off the last two balls of the same over, he hit two sixes - one over mid-wicket and one straight. Next over he collapsed with cramp and took 10 minutes to recover. He proceeded slowly for a while after that and Warner was almost at a full stop. Prior replaced Halliday and bowled four overs for one run. Then Racionzer hit him for a six and a four. In Prior's eighth and last over Racionzer hit a six over mid-wicket to reach exactly 100 in 234 minutes with the total on 186. The score at tea time was 195-3 off 94 overs in 274 minutes, Racionzer 109, Warner 21 (in two hours). This was the first century by a Scottish batsman in Ireland since Aitchison's 190 in College Park in 1959.
After tea Scotland went on for 80 minutes, 24 overs, and scored 82 runs and lost three more wickets. Monteith and Halliday started. Racionzer hit Monteith for a six in the first over but then advanced to Halliday and was stumped. 203-4-115. His innings lasted 256 minutes (292 balls) and was chanceless. ABM Ker joined Warner who, at last, began to speed up. At 223-4 the new ball was taken by Corlett and Harrison after 102 overs. A possible run out was missed at 224 against Warner when Jackson could not control the straight but bouncing throw. At 231 Warner reached 50 in 144 minutes but took 43 more minutes to add a further 20. He was fifth out with the total on 276 flashing at Harrison. Monteith had come on for Corlett and he it was who bowled Haggo with the total on 277. The last over before the declaration was a maiden(!) from Harrison to Ker (27*). Harrison's 2-29 in 18 overs were the best Irish bowling figures.
With Ireland having half an hour to bat Scotland achieved their objective of taking a wicket. JE Ker bowled four good overs in the second of which he turned one back to bowl Dennison. 3-1-1. Perhaps Warke should have opened to save the new cap? The score at close of play was 12-1, Short 4, Warke 5.
Just after lunch on the second day the sixth Irish wicket fell with the total on 135. An hour later the score was 228, Prior and Harrison putting on 93 in only 58 minutes The day began well. Short was not in prime form but played himself in against JE Ker and McPate. At 30, Warke (16) gave Donald a chance at short leg off McPate. Donald and Morton were tried. After 90 minutes Short (30) flashed at Donald. He was not far enough across and ABM Ker took the catch at second slip. 86-2. Two more wickets fell quickly. Wills (1) was caught and bowled off a Morton full toss. In his next over Morton had Johnston (2) caught at the wicket trying to late cut. 86-1 had become 89-4.
Warke was now playing well and timing his leg side strokes to perfection. He hit Donald for 10 in one over. With another four he went to 51 out of 93 in 198 minutes with eight fours - his maiden 50 for Ireland. By lunch (taken after 49 overs) Warke was 58, Prior 15 and the total 119-4. At 128 disaster struck. Prior pushed Morton to Warner's left at cover. He moved for a run and may have called. He then said "no" twice and returned to his crease. Warke did not stop and was run out by the bowler. He had made 63 in 164 minutes. Monteith came in, lasted 14 balls without scoring, and then hoisted a high return catch to the bowler, Morton. 135-6 and Ireland were still 142 runs behind.
Harrison arrived in this, the 57th over. In the next hour (14 overs) the game was transformed. 93 runs were added, of which Harrison made 51 and Prior 31. Harrison's second scoring shot was a straight six off Morton. McIntyre came on for Donald and saw Harrison (then 13) dropped on a very difficult chance to mid-off. McIntyre's four overs yielded 20 runs despite containing two maidens. Ker came back for him. Then Harrison hit Morton for a six over long off. In 30 minutes 51 were added of which Harrison made 34. Prior, not in prime form this season, was for once overshadowed but kept the scoreboard moving. He also had hit a six off Morton.
At 195 Prior arrived at his 50 scored in 93 minutes Harrison hit another six off Morton and reached his 50 with a four off Ker at 128. He had faced 59 balls and hit three sixes and six fours. In the same over Prior drove Ker to Swan at cover. 228-7-55. Corlett came in and 40 more were added in 25 minutes, Harrison taking three fours off one McPate over. Racionzer came on to bowl his occasional off spin. He took two wickets for 11 in the eight balls he bowled. His second ball accounted for Corlett, caught at mid-on. His sixth was hit for six by Harrison. Ker bowled Jackson in the next over. Then a 4 to Harrison off Racionzer sent Ireland into the lead but, swinging at the next ball, he was bowled.
A century on debut in first class cricket loomed in front of Harrison. It would have been the first for Ireland since JR Gill in 1948. Harrison's 86 was full of clean hits delivered from a "stand up" stance with bat raised. He batted 93 minutes and faced 95 balls with four sixes and 12 fours. Ker took 3-45 in 18 overs, Morton 3-94 in 27, the wicket being too slow for him.
There was 50 minutes play before tea and 110 minutes afterwards on this long second day. In that time Scotland made 112-5 and, it must be said, batted badly. 16 overs were bowled before tea by Corlett, Harrison and Monteith. With the last ball in the session Kennedy was caught at slip by Monteith off Corlett. 24-1-12, Donald 10*. Halliday now began a spell of 20 overs at the road end, bowling to close of play. With the score at 39 he bowled Racionzer with one which kept very low. At 46 he got one to bounce and Swan was caught at short leg off bat and pad.
Warner was missed in the gully when one by Monteith off Halliday off a ball which turned away from the left-hander. Monteith replaced Corlett with the total on 68 and Donald snicked his first ball past Wills at slip for four. At 79 Halliday induced Donald to drive and Dennison took the catch at extra cover. 79-4-45. ABM Ker joined Warner and the score was taken to 91. Warner hit a full toss back to Monteith who caught it at the second attempt. Haggo came in and pushed his second ball firmly and low to Short close in at short leg but the catch did not stick. The last 40 minutes were seen out by Ker (18) and Haggo (9), with the close of play total being 112-5 off 55 overs.
15 overs on the third morning saw Scotland all out for 129, having added only 17. Corlett bowled the first over - a maiden. Haggo was LBW in Halliday's first over, offering no stroke. Ker was LBW in Corlett's next over. 114-7-20 was now the score. In his fifth over of the morning Corlett bowled McIntyre playing a sliced shot. In his sixth over JE Ker was brilliantly caught at second slip low and two-handed by Monteith. In his eighth over Morton was caught off a low chance to the wicket-keeper. Corlett had taken 4-5 in eight overs to emerge overall with 5-40 in 23 overs. Halliday, gaining his 50th cap for Ireland, had taken 4-44 in 27 overs. The highest stand of the Scottish innings was 33.
With 97 minutes to go to lunch Short and Dennison set out to get 125 to win (with memories of Clontarf in 1977!). 15 runs were scored. Then Short had a mental block. He pulled at McPate to a not very short ball and lost his off stump. 15-1-10. Dennison hit three good fours but was LBW in Morton's second over. 33-2-16. Racionzer came on at 31 - a somewhat surprise move. Warke began where he left off and was soon striking well timed fours off both bowlers. He lost Wills at 57, driving Morton to mid-on. Johnston got off the mark with a four off his 17th ball but was, quite rightly, just content to stay in until the win was achieved. This he did, facing 77 balls to score 14 not out while 71 runs were scored.
Warke hit seven fours in his 45 and looked like making a 50 in each innings when he drove a low return catch to Morton. 99-4-45. Three balls later Morton bowled Prior who drove over the ball. Harrison hit the last ball of that, the 41st over, for 4 to bring up 103. After four more overs the score had only gone up by one run. Then Harrison launched himself at Racionzer's 15th over. He drove at the second ball which went for four byes, the third was a fast low slip chance which went for four; the next three were good shots - all of which went for four. 20 runs had come in the over and one was required to win. Swan bowled the last over and the fourth ball went for four byes. The win was achieved with two hours to spare. Harrison had made 107 runs in the match for once out.
Injury prevented RI Johnston going on the English tour in August. Aged 35 this therefore was his 15th and last match. He had scored 361 runs in 15 matches at an average of 24.06.