This match followed at once after the previous two and was the "big" match of the tour. It was played at the magnificently appointed Sports Club where Test playing touring teams to South Africa played and was a Currie Cup venue until Zimbabwe were cut off from their cricketing contact with South Africa following Independence in 1980. Zimbabwe put seven Internationals in the field, Shah, Waller, Hick, Robertson, Wallace, Houghton (Captain), and Burke. Ireland left out Haire, Harrison, Lewis and Mc Devitt, with the latter probably the unlucky one of these four. The hours of play were 10 to 5 each day and the weather was hot and sunny throughout. The pitch was good with even bounce and on the slow side.
The story of the match centred around Hick. He scored 309 and beat NVH Riches score of 239*for Wales at Ormeau in 1926 as the highest individual score against Ireland. When he was 17, with the score 42-2, he played Patterson uppishly off his legs straight to Prior knee-high at square leg. The chance was missed and cost 292 runs to Hick alone! It was the 19-year-old's 50th century and the highest individual score ever made in Zimbabwe.
For the eighth time out of eight on tour Halliday lost the toss and Ireland were put in. The team talk beforehand tried to emphasise that this was a three day match and batsmen should dig in and build slowly. It did not work. 50 was up in 10.5 overs, 100 in 23 overs, 150 in 38 overs and the innings of 211 occupied only 58.4 overs, and 210 minutes. By 2:35 PM Zimbabwe's team was batting. Warke was out in the fourth over for one when he hooked too early in his innings (habit he has) and was caught at the wicket by the youthful Schools wicket-keeper, Flower. 17-1-1. The other opening bowler Lake had Cohen caught at the wicket in his fourth over when Cohen lunged forward. 27-2-2.
Masood had gone off at a great pace and there was only one single in his first 30 runs. At 42, when he was 31, Masood gave a difficult chance to first slip - low and to the right - off Lake. Dennison had begun well and the third wicket put on 51 in 40 minutes. Viljeon had replaced Burke who did not bowl again. After 16 overs the score was 78. On came Cox, a slow left armer who bowled for the rest of the innings. Masood drove his first ball to mid-on. 78-3-53. Masood had got to 50 in 60 minutes and batted in all for only 69 minutes and faced only 46 deliveries.
Vincent joined Dennison and together they played out 50 minutes to lunch putting on a further 52 runs. Dennison made 39 of these and was playing well. He was lucky, when 38, and the total 121, when deep square leg could not hold on to a catch running in off Cox. The lunch score after 32 overs was 130-3, Dennison 46, Vincent 21. The scoring rate was very high and the score was a good platform if the wickets could be kept intact. They couldn't! Cox got Vincent caught at short leg with the last ball of the first over after lunch with no addition to the score. Prior was caught at long leg in Coxes next over. 136-5-1. In the previous over bowled by Shah, a medium pacer, Dennison had gone to 50 in 96 minutes. Patterson was out at 150, caught at short extra off Shah attempting to drive the ball. McBrine came next and dug himself in. Dennison increased his pace but he was unhappy with an over he faced from Hick, bowling off spin. In Hick's second over (and he only bowled three in all) Dennison was out to a bat/pad catch to silly point. His 84 came in 134 minutes off 121 balls and strangely only three fours. With his century the previous day he was the most improved player of the tour. Unfortunately, due to a superstition, he had batted on the two days without headcover. On his return to the Pavilion he collapsed from sunstroke and took no further part in the match. 177-7-84.
At 178 Jackson "made room to cut" Coxes faster ball and was bowled. Halliday stayed with McBrine while 33 were added at a run a minute, McBrine hittting Cox for two fours and a six in one over. At 211 Halliday lunged at Cox and was caught at the wicket. In Coxes next over Milling was caught at deep mid-on. McBrine was in for 70 minutes and played well for his 30 not out. Cox, trying for the spinners place in the Zimbabwe team took 6-65 in 21.4 overs. He is accurate but hardly spins the ball at all. Tea was taken between the innings.
Shah and Waller began at 2:35 PM with Milling and Patterson bowling. Ireland did well at the start as they had done throughout the tour. At eight, in his first over, Patterson bowled a full toss to Shah and caught the return catch very well, high, and in his right hand. With Hick in scoring was rapid, Waller taking 10 of Milling's third over. Milling was under pitching seeking a mis-hook. In his next over he pitched one up to Waller and bowled him. 42-2-23. In the next over, only the eighth of the innings, came Priors miss of Hick off Patterson. 10 runs later Robertson hooked Milling and Lewis took a fine running catch on the leg boundary while fielding as sub for Dennison 52-3-2.
Wallace joined Hick in the first big stand of the innings, the first of four stands of 50 or more in succession. Halliday (bowling the 13th over) and McBrine (the 18th) were soon bowling together. 50 had come up in 7.5 overs and 100 came up in 19.2. Hick hit five fours off successive scoring strokes and reached 50 in 62 minutes. Milling came back for Halliday and Prior was tried in place of McBrine. At 133 Wallace (27) drove McBrine through Patterson's hands at mid-off. Eventually, after 110 were put on in 78 minutes, Wallace fell in Prior's second over to a catch at the wicket. 162-4-40.
Hick was now 92. With Houghton in he went to his century in 140 minutes off 95 deliveries with 16 fours - his second century on successive days against Ireland. By close of play (after 40 overs) he was 112, Houghton was 7 with the score 189-4.
On the second morning in two hours play up to lunch at noon, 132 runs were scored off a further 34 overs for the loss of the wicket of Houghton. Milling and Patterson began. 200 came up in 43.2 overs and the score was 216 when Patterson had Houghton (18 in 54 minutes) caught by Warke at cover. Viljeon from Bulawayo was next and there followed the highest stand of the innings - 181.
All five bowlers were tried before lunch, McBrine perhaps belatedly as he did not bowl until the 65th over. Hick made 80 of the runs in this session and was 192 not out at lunch, Viljeon was 38 and the score was 321-6. Hick's 150 took 192 minutes and 179 deliveries and he had by now hit 23 fours.
Between lunch and tea, another two hour session, a further 34 overs were bowled making 108 in all up to this point. The score advanced to 459 and again only one wicket fell - that of Viljeon who was caught at the wicket off Patterson for 58 in 161 minutes when the score was 397. The bowling was again switched around with all five being used. Flower had come in to join Hick and was 19 at tea. By this time Hick was 288 not out and had given another chance. At a score of 274 he skied a ball straight to Masood on the long-on boundary. Masood dropped it! His 200 came in 267 minutes off 246 deliveries and contained 26 fours and 250 had come in 327 minutes with 32 fours.
At 3 PM the final session for the weary Irish began. It lasted 18.2 overs almost all bowled by Halliday and McBrine. 58 runs were scored and three wickets fell. The new ball had been taken as soon as possible - after 85 overs - in the pre-tea session. Hick and Flower added 88 for the seventh wicket in 69 minutes. Playing carefully now, Hick went to his 300 in 191 minutes. At 485 he was out - brilliantly caught two handed over his head by Prior (ironically!) at long-off off the bowling of McBrine. He had batted beautifully for 394 minutes, had faced 375 balls and hit two sixes and 34 fours.
At 489 Flower (26) was LBW to Halliday. Lake and Cox brought up 500 in 122.5 overs, the last 50 taking 18.5 overs, the worst scoring rate of the innings. At 3:51 PM came the declaration at 517-9, when Cox gave Jackson his third catch, Milling being the bowler. The innings lasted 435 minutes, the scoring rate being 68 runs per 100 balls. The over rate was 17.3 per hour. This was the second 500 scored against Ireland, the first being by West Indies who scored 584-6 in Rathmines in 1984. The fielders and bowlers stuck to the task very well. McBrine did best as regards expense, conceding 79 runs off 28 overs. Perhaps more use could have been made of some occasional bowlers such as Masood and Cohen. Only five bowlers were used.
With 55 minutes to go Warke and Masood strolled out facing a 306 run deficit, with Dennison out of action. The start was better than usual, Masood travelling at great speed. 16 overs were bowled, eight by Lake, six by Burke and two by Cox. 40 came up in 42 minutes. Then, with 13 minutes to go, Lake had Warke caught at the wicket. 40-1-14. Halliday came in as night-watchman and saw Masood hit the last three balls of the day, bowled by Cox, for four each. The close of play score was 60-1, Halliday 3 and Masood 43, which contained seven fours and lasted 55 minutes.
On the third day Ireland pushed the game into the last session and batted for 72.4 more overs. Lake and Burke began and Halliday lasted 50 minutes before being caught at short leg off Burke playing too soon. 87-2-5. Cox and Shah were tried but Masood went merrily on. He reached 50 in 77 minutes, off 70 deliveries. At 93 he was dropped at first slip off Burke when 68. One hoped for a long innings from him but the way he was batting mistakes were almost inevitable. With Cohen in 100 came up in the 35th over.
At 110 Masood was out for 81 scored in 146 minutes off 127 deliveries with 12 fours. He hit Cox over Houghton at mid-off. Houghton turned ran and at full tilt caught the ball coming over his shoulder. In the next over Shah had Cohen LBW and in his following over had Prior caught at second slip. 110-2 had become 111-5. Vincent and Patterson saw out five overs to lunch, taken after 40 overs with the score on 115-5, Vincent 1, Patterson 3. Hick, bowling off spin, took the next wicket. He came on for the 60th over after Lake and Cox had bowled. Hick's third ball, a quicker one, had Vincent back instead of forward. He was bowled for 11 after putting on 34 in 51 minutes with Patterson.
Now came McBrine. Patterson at last began to bat like he can. Attacking fields were maintained and Cox bowled at one end all the time. Patterson hit Cox for 4-4-6 in one over and he had previously hit Lake for a six. He went to 50, his first for Ireland, in 74 minutes having faced 72 deliveries. McBrine was not idle and together they added 81 in 71 minutes. Then Patterson ducked to a ball from Shah which only rose to his gloves and he was caught behind. 226-7-67.
Patterson had batted 123 minutes with two sixes and four fours. Tea came after 84 overs with the score at 229-7, McBrine 32 Jackson one. Waller, who had not bowled before, bowled one over after tea. Then Lake and Viljeon, who had also not bowled before, took the new ball at 230-7. In 3.4 overs it was all over. Lake took the last two wickets in his second over. McBrine was caught at cover, Cox jumping high to take the catch. McBrine had been in for 96 minutes and faced 81 balls for his 36 to add to his 30 not out in the first innings. He is a very good cricketer and a fighter. Two balls later Lake shattered Milling's stumps and Milling had collected "a pair".
The last five days cricket were disappointing. One feels that if they were played again the team would have done better without necessarily reversing the result except perhaps at Wedza. The last match was played by the batsmen as if it was a limited overs match, 450 runs being scored in 147.2 overs. Domestic cricket in Ireland would have to change to allow players to get the feel of three-day cricket.