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Match Report
Derek Scott

This was a remarkable match in which the scores finished level, the first time Ireland had ever had such a result. MCC needed 118 off the last 20 overs and no less than 31 off the last three - 30 were obtained. 926 runs were scored and 25 wickets fell. MCC had four Test players in Bolus, Tolchard, Birkenshaw and Mansoor Akhtar of Pakistan. Also in the team were former captains of Hampshire (Pocock) and Sussex (Griffith) and other County players, Duddleston, Latchman and Lamb as well as the "destroyer" of two years ago at Roehampton, AJ Pollock.

Ireland brought in JJ McDevitt to open the bowling when Elder was unable to play due to a back injury. Therefore MP Rea, the reserve batsmen, had not played an official match on the tour. In this very wet summer the match was played in warm sunshine on a hard flat wicket within 50 yards of the Grandstand boundary.

The first day belonged to Masood. His innings was superb and allowed an Irish declaration at 3:22 PM after 220 minutes play. The score was 310-5, the highest by Ireland at Lords. At 8, Warke was LBW to Lamb for 6. Then, in 140 minutes, Masood and Dennison added 207 for the second wicket beating the old record of 149 which had stood for 82 years. In his innings of 138 in 140 minutes Masood played and missed twice only. He reached 50 in 70 minutes. He reached 100 with a six off the first ball of the 33rd over and was out in the 42nd over, caught at deep gully off Lamb. There were 17 fours and three sixes in his innings, all magnificent drives, pulls or beautifully timed cuts. It would be hard to improve on such a display. This was the fifth Irish century at Lords and the highest score for Ireland there. At lunch, after 150 minutes, the score was 224-2 (off 44 overs), Dennison 67, Anderson 7.

Dennison had a lucky start outside his off stump. He was missed at first slip by Birkenshaw off Lamb and, two balls later, give another much more difficult chance to Griffith in the gully. Then he played well and hit seven fours on his way to his maiden 50 in 105 minutes. The Irish 50 came up in the 13th over, 100 in the 21st, 150 in the 29th and 200 in the 40. After lunch Dennison was caught off Birkenshaw for 69 with the score on 227. Anderson hit five fours in his 31 in 46 minutes before being caught at the wicket by Tolchard off Lamb with the score on 264. Before this, at 235, Prior was LBW to Lamb for 3 and had now made only 5 runs in his last five innings. Lewis (40) and McBrine (15) continued the assault in an unbroken sixth wicket stand of 46 in 31 minutes before the declaration. Lewis reached his top score for Ireland. MCC were an ageing team. They did not bowl or field well in ideal batting conditions. The exception was the medium paced Lamb, 4-63 in 18 overs.

MCC set out to avoid the follow-on, 211 being the target. This they achieved easily. Bolus (36) and Dudleston (34) got 77 off 18 overs up to tea, Bolus being dropped by Halliday at mid-off off the bowling of Milling. Lewis was, as usual, expensive but three balls after tea he bowled Dudleston. 77-1-34. In the next over Milling had Bolus caught at the wicket. 79-2-37. No more wickets fell. Akhtar (71) and Tolchard (64) added a further 139 in 112 minutes off 36 overs up to close of play. Both played good shots after a slow start and both reached their 50s in 97 minutes. Akhtar hit nine fours, Tolchard hit 1x6 and 6x4. McDevitt missed both of them off the bowling of McBrine. At 172 Tolchard (41) offered an easy catch at mid-wicket. At 209 Akhtar offered a more difficult running chance at deep mid-on.

MCC declared overnight 92 behind and by 2:33 PM Ireland were bowled out for 153. This avoided any declaration decision and allowed a marvellous finish wherein either side could have won. The likelihood was that Ireland would have set MCC a stiffer task and the end would have been tame.

Wickets fell regularly in Ireland's second innings. Lamb bowled very well again. In 18.3 overs, out of 48.3 bowled, he took 5-52. Masood could not repeat his first innings performance. He scored all the first 11 runs and then played a careless cut off Lamb and was caught at first slip. Dennison was LBW to Lamb at 21 and Anderson was caught at second slip off Lamb at 38. Prior, at last, found some form. He hit a 6 to start off Akhtar and three fours. He and Warke more than doubled the score. At 79 Akhtar bowled Prior for 27. Meanwhile the totally out of form Warke was doing his best. He made 21 in 88 minutes. Then, driving at Akhtar, he was caught at first slip. 84-5.

Lamb picked up another wicket before lunch having McBrine caught at the wicket at 89. Lewis and Halliday survived to lunch, taken at 107-6 off 32 overs. Birkenshaw relieved Lamb and had Lewis LBW without addition to the lunch score. Jackson came in and hit about him being severe on Latchman. When 20, he hit Latchman to deep square leg where Bolus caught him. Bolus indicated that he had hit a foot on the boundary rope and a six was signalled. In MCC's second innings Prior stopped a ball with 2 feet behind the rope but failed to signal four, which, in the subsequent result, would have given MCC victory. Latchman now picked up 2 wickets with his leg spin. Halliday (12) top-edged him to gully at 129 and Jackson was stumped at 152. However, the ninth wicket, Jackson and McDevitt had got 23 vital runs. Lamb deservedly took his fifth wicket when Milling was caught at 153.

MCC needed 246 to win in 115 minutes plus a minimum of 20 overs, a probable rate of almost 5 an over. Bolus hit Milling's first ball for six but three wickets had gone for 46, the last one off the last ball before tea, taken after 13 overs. Dudleston (7) was well caught by McDevitt at long leg off Milling with the score on 13. McDevitt took his first wicket for Ireland when he bowled Bolus (12) at 36. Halliday, coming on for one over, had Akhtar (23) LBW. Now 60 minutes plus a minimum of 20 overs remained to score 200 or take 7 wickets. Halliday now relied mostly on himself and McBrine. Tolchard and Pocock set up a possbility of victory by putting on 84 in 64 minutes. Tolchard reached 50 in 77 minutes with two sixes and three fours. Pocock got to 50 in 89 minutes. When the last 20 overs began, the score was 128-4, with 118 still needed. McBrine bowled the first over of the last 20 and had Tolchard caught off a miss hit. 134-5-50. In the fifth over of the final 20, McBrine bowled Griffith and only six had been added.

112 were now wanted in 15.5 overs. Birkenshaw now came into play a marvellous innings. He is a first class umpire who must have played very little cricket in 1985. He and Pocock added 44 in only 24 minutes but at 172 Birkenshaw (9) could have been caught and bowled by McBrine. At 180 McBrine made amends. Milling returned for one over in place of Halliday. Pocock miscut his fifth ball which went low and fast to McBrine's right at extra cover. McBrine made ground and dived to his right to take a fantastic one-handed catch. 180-6-65. 8.1 overs remained to score 66. Birkenshaw was now 15. He scored 46 more out of 65 scored.

McBrine bowled Latchman (7) with the score on 199. 57 were now needed in 5.1 overs. Brooks came in with an injured foot and a runner. Three byes, the first byes of the match, off McBrine's last ball brought the score to 202. 44 were needed in five overs. Halliday's over yielded eight runs but McBrien's next only five. Now 31 needed off three overs. Halliday gave up 11. Now 20 required off two. McBrine again did well, yielding only 3 singles in 4 balls and having Brooks stumped off the fifth. 229-8 and now either side could win. Lamb blocked the last ball leaving 17 to be scored off Halliday with Birkenshaw facing and his score on 45. The first ball went for two after Dennison at square deep cover made a great effort to catch what was a mis hit. The second ball went into the Grandstand for 6. Now 9 needed off 4 balls. Birkenshaw could make no progress off the next two. The second last was hit for four so a six was needed. Halliday, horror, bowled a waist high full toss but Birkenshaw mis timed his pull and went for 4 to long leg. Equal scores! Halliday was brave to keep himself on (1-85 in 15 overs) but he and McBrine (4-72 in 17 overs) were the pair with the best chance of taking wickets off mishits.

On the tour Masood had been superb. Dennison and Lewis also did well with the bat. Anderson was a shadow of his former self. Prior and Warke did badly. Halliday and McBrine sustained the bowling but Milling was a "find" being young, tall and strong. Ireland missed Monteith, Short and Corlett.

Anderson's 86 match career, one short of Colhoun's 87, ended with this match. He was the greatest Irish batsmen of his time and the first to score over 3000 runs. His career began in 1966, he scored 3777 runs at an average of 32.56 with seven centuries (the next best having scored four) and 13 other scores over 50. His off spin bowling provided 48 wickets at 26.60. He was a wonderful cover point.