Ireland's seventh attempt in the Gillette or Nat West competitions had a number of good points and one of the worst, the scoring of only 35 runs in the last 16 overs while losing only one wicket. The team against Wales was kept intact but Lewis was injured and replaced by Vincent with Prior still unavailable due to exams. The party travelled to Leicester on Sunday, and the following day they played the Leicestershire Cricket Association at Banks Road in Leicester as a warmup game. To great applause from his teammates Halliday won the toss, after 15 lost in a row, official and unofficial. The Leicestershire Cricket Association were put into bat and never recovered from being 17-4 and were all out for 126 in 58.2 overs. Six bowlers shared the wickets and Milling took 4-22. In 31.1 overs Ireland got 127-1. This was a non-cap match. Warke made 82 not out in 105 minutes. Practice followed at Grace Road on Tuesday.
On a lovely day Leicester fielded four Test players. Opening bowlers Agnew and Taylor and batsman Willey and Gower had all played for England and the three latter had been on the West Indies tour in the previous winter. Gower had just lost the England captaincy and had not played since injury in the first test against India two weeks previously. Willey had played against Ireland for Northants in the 1982 Nat West match and also at Arundel in 1985.
Halliday put Leicester in on a good if slow pitch on a ground with a very large outfield. Potter, formerly of Kent, and Cobb raced away against Corlett and Milling the score was 36 in the ninth over when Potter mishit Corlett to Garth at mid-on. 36-1-11. Garth replaced Milling after the latter had bowled four overs. Garth bowled well and the pace slackened. Milling came on for Corlett to bowl the 17th over. His second ball was chipped to Vincent at cover point by Cobb. 48-2-26. Willey was 5 when Gower joined him. The stand lasted for 38.2 overs, was worth 209 runs in 122 minutes. Each batted in their own style. Willey is absolutely square to the bowler in his stance, both feet pointing straight at the bowler. Gower is the best and most elegant batsman in England and elegance is not usually the hallmark of left-handers.
Lunch was taken after 40 overs with the score on 164-2, Willey and Gower both on 57. Willey had got to 50 in 93 minutes, Gower in 73. Garth had bowled 10 overs for 22 runs when he was surprisingly taken off before finishing his quota of 12. Halliday bowled the 23rd over and bowled 7 overs for 41 runs before giving way to Masood. McBrine bowled the 30th over and bowled his 12 in a row, before and after lunch, for 65 runs. 50 came in 16.4 overs, 100 in 30.2. The tempo then quickened and the third 50 came in only 7.1 overs.
After lunch Masood bowled 3 more overs but in 5 overs he conceded 35 in all. In his place Garth bowled his remaining 2 overs, which cost 21 including a 6 to Willey off a no-ball. Nevertheless Garth's 43 runs in 12 overs was the least expensive of all. 200 came up in 46.5 overs and the next 50 were the quickest of all - 5 overs exactly! Milling and Corlett had returned for the last 9 overs. Willey went to his hundred in 141 minutes. At 257 he had a wild swing at Milling and was bowled in the 55th over for 101. His innings lasted 149 minutes and he faced 136 balls. The stand of 209 occupied only 122 minutes. Gower was now 104 and was tiring.
Whitaker hit 25 in 14 minutes in a stand of 32. He was out to a brilliant catch by Cohen who ran from long-on to long-off at full speed. Whitaker had been missed when 16, and the total 280, on a caught and bowled chance to Corlett. 300 came up in 59 overs - the highest score against Ireland in these matches. The last ball of the innings accounted for Benjamin (5) bowled by Milling. Gower was 121*. He reached 100 exactly 2 hours off 108 balls. In all he batted 149 minutes (the same as Willey) and hit 1 six and 13 fours. It was beautiful flowing batsmanship and the time he had to play his shots was a feature. Willey hit a six and 9 fours. Milling took 4-63 in his 12 overs. The Irish ground fielding was excellent with Cohen, Vincent, Milling and Dennison outstanding. The bowling rate was quite a good one of 17.39 overs per hour, despite a scoring rate of 84 runs per hundred balls.
The Willey-Gower stand of 209 for the third wicket was the highest for the third wicket in the competition taking over from Gooch and McEwan for Essex against Scotland, 179 in 1984. It was also the record third wicket stand against Ireland, six more than Gomes and Logie for the West Indies at Rathmines in 1984.
Ireland began at 2:48 PM. Warke and Cohen had the shadow of 39 all out at Hove in 1985 hanging over them. They need not have worried. Agnew and Taylor bowled fast but very few would have hit the wicket. Each bowled six overs without a wicket. Two more "quicks", Benjamin, a West Indian and DeFreitas from Dominica, replaced them. Cohen and Warke sailed out reached 46 in 17 overs, bowled with attacking fields. Then in the 18th over Warke played on a full toss from DeFreitas. 48-1-12.
Willey, off spin, came on for the 25th over and Potter, slow left-arm, for the 28. Both of these bowled out their 12 overs and between them yielded only 47 runs. Ireland found great difficulty in penetrating well-placed fields. Cohen and Dennison put on 29 in 38 minutes. Then, in Potter's second over (the 30th) Cohen "died in the cause". He leapt down the pitch, drove and was caught at deep mid-wicket. 77-2-32. Five overs later tea was taken at 88-2, Dennison 12, Masood 9 (including 1 six).
Sadly 25 more overs after tea only realised 50 runs for the loss of Dennison and Masood. Dennison was out in the 37th over, caught and bowled by Willey for 12 with the score still at 88. Dennison's 12 took 56 minutes and he faced 56 balls - to slow a pace for a number three. Vincent came next, surely a poor choice as he is a limited and defensive batsmen at the moment. Nine overs after tea yielded only 15 runs, the score being 103 at the end of 44 overs. Masood tried to increase the pace. In the next 7.2 overs to the point of Masood's dismissal, the latter got 26 and the score went to 121. Taylor had now returned and got Masood with his second ball - a marvellous two-handed diving catch to his right by Boon at cover off a hard cut. 121-4-26. 8.4 overs remained when Garth joined Vincent. Only 17 runs were scored and blocking seem to be the order of the day. Taylor and Benjamin were the bowlers until, non-bowlers, Boon and Whitaker, bowled the 59th and 60th overs. There were two runs of the 59th and the 60th was a maiden! 18 runs came in the last 10 overs, 35 in the last 16. After so many good points the last part of the match left a sour note. With a little effort Ireland might have been, say, 180-8.