A good match marked the first visit of MCC to Downpatrick. It was played on three hot sunny days and was sponsored (Sterling 1500) by Butterly Brick. Ireland played poorly on the first day but recovered to a winning position by the end. SC Corlett had retired and his place went to AN Nelson, a 22 year old tall bowler from Waringstown. JWG Elder had also retired and Milling was again available. Garth returned for Patterson and A McBrine was dropped for DA Lewis who had not played since 1986.
As Lancashire had no match MCC included GD Mendis and J Simmons from that county. Simmons, an off-spinner, was nearer 50 than 40 but was still a regular county player. DS Steele, the former England batsman, was to have played but didn't. AJT Miller and W Merry were former Middlesex players, Maxwell a young New South Wales player and Bakker, a Dutchman playing for Hampshire. WA Donald was a former Scottish player while Kidd and Crossley are on the Lord's groundstaff.
Ireland won the toss and batted badly and were 41-4 after 24 overs from the quicker bowlers. The pitch was much faster than most in Ireland but the players were not used to this pace. Bakker's first five overs were maidens as were three of Merry's first five. Warke then hit two fours but in the 13th over (bowled by Bakker) he attempted a chip off his toes which square-leg caught over his head. 16-1-9.
Donald, at medium pace, replaced Merry with the score on 29. He took wickets in his third and fifth overs. Rea played indeterminably forward and was caught at short leg off bat and pad. 35-2-5. Maxwell, replacing Bakker, then nipped in with a wicket having Masood LBW when one cut back at him. 36-3-1. Donald's second wicket was that of Garth. Garth had an escape with a mis-pull off Maxwell but then backed away to cut a ball which was much too near the stumps and was caught at the wicket. 41-4-2. Cohen, in 2 hours for 30 and Harrison, 15, were in at lunch, taken after 35 overs when the score was 72-4.
Bakker and Merry took up the bowling after lunch as Ireland laboured to 100 in 47 overs. Then Donald returned and Simmons began a run of seven successive maidens. Harrison, 32 and playing well, tried to pull Donald without moving his feet and was LBW at 104. Cohen, now in a complete shell, and Lewis added only 5 in 30 minutes. Then Simmons spun one at Lewis and the substitute fielder (Van Lint) caught a good short-leg catch diving to his right. 109-6-4. Cohen was only 39 at this stage and seemed unwilling to play any attacking stroke. He got to 51 in 220 minutes, then propped forward to Simmons and was caught at silly mid-off. 125-7-51. Halliday hit out at Simmons hitting a six and a four. He was left 13 not out when Maxwell took the last three wickets, all bowled, in seven balls. In 10.3 overs Maxwell had 4-15.
Tea was taken between innings and the final session was one of 150 minutes. 40 overs were bowled and MCC ended 126-2, a very comfortable position. Milling and Garth bowled to Mendis and Miller. In the eighth over Mendis (13) played a one-handed leg side shot at Garth and Jackson dived to make a good catch. 15-1. Ducat joined Miller. The bowling was not very good with Lewis being used as first change.
50 came up in the 18th over. Nelson came on second change and bowled straight if a little short. He took a wicket in his fifth over when one came through low at Miller (27) and Jackson took another catch at the wicket. Maxwell and Ducat batted until the close and had put on 62 in 68 minutes, Ducat 49, Maxwell 30. After play ended Bakker was recalled to play a Sunday League match for Hampshire and Ireland gave MCC permission to use Van Lint (12th man) in his place.
The second day started 15 minutes late because the coach bringing the players from Belfast did not arrive in time. The day was Ireland's. The eight remaining wickets of MCC went down for 91. Ireland, 79 behind on first innings, were 202-4 close of play. Milling uprooted Maxwell's off stump in the first over. 129-3-30. At 130 Ducat , then on 53, the non-striker, backed up too far and could not beat a short throw from Garth to Nelson.
At 153 Donald guided Milling to Masood at gully and Cass was almost at once LBW to Nelson, trying to pull. Garth replaced Milling and had Kidd caught by Warke at first slip. By lunch Ireland had bowled 28 more overs and MCC were 179-7, Van Lint 10, Simmons 2. In 11.2 overs after lunch MCC added 38 and lost their last three wickets - all to Lewis. Van Lint pulled to short square leg, Simmons hooked to Milling running in from fine leg and Crossley was bowled. Lewis had 3-41 but he had not bowled well. Nelson's 2-33 in 20 overs was a good debut.
Warke and Cohen gave Ireland a great start. They batted 90 minutes up to tea (taken after 26 overs) and had put on 86 to establish a lead of 7. Warke was 30, Cohen 45. Cohen completed his second 50 of the match. His batting was now much freer. He hit eight fours in a stay of 109 minutes before being stumped off Donald with the total at 103. Masood came and played very brilliantly. He was in for 30 overs but faced only 72 balls in scoring 57 in 90 minutes, with 9 fours. Just before he was out he lost Warke, bowled off his pads by Maxwell, for a steady 64 in 194 minutes. 198-2. At 200 Masood mis-drove Simmons who caught him knee-high.
With 20 minutes to go on a sunny day Halliday joined Rea as night watchman. At 202 he was LBW to Simmons and Jackson arrived as a second night watchman. He was 0 and Rea, 1, overnight, at a score of 202-4. Three wickets had now fallen for 4 runs.
The third morning's play began at 10:30 AM. In the two hour session to lunch Ireland scored 112 off 38 overs which all six bowlers shared. Rea and Jackson added 54 in all in less than an hour before Rea was caught at deep-mid-on. 256-5-18. Jackson thrashed his way to 43 in 68 minutes before being stumped at 268. Harrison kept the momentum going and put on 40 with Lewis. The latter was LBW to Maxwell for 14 with the score at 308. Garth, low at number nine as a consequence of the 2 nightwatchmen, put on 24 with Harrison before the latter was caught at the wicket off Simmons.
This was after lunch (taken at 314-7). Harrison's very valuable 42 in 75 minutes contained 7 fours. Milling hit a six, the only one of the innings, before a declaration came at 345-9, 30 minutes after lunch. Simmons bowled 33 overs (out of 115 in all) to take 4-77.
The target was 267 in 139 minutes plus a minimum of 20 overs and it could perhaps have allowed for slightly more bowling time. The rate required was about 4 ½ runs per over. Nelson shared the new ball with Milling and Lewis was again first change. Mendis and Miller raced away. In 79 minutes up to tea they scored 65 off 21 overs, Mendis 34, Miller 28.
Before the last hour began Nelson took two wickets. Mendis was LBW with the score on 72, having made half that total. Ducat met a similar fate at 108. Maxwell then joined Miller.
There were three expensive overs from Garth, which conceded 20 runs, and Miller went past 50 in 131 minutes. The last hour began at 135-2, scored in 38 overs. 132 were still required - somewhat of a tall order. Milling shared the bowling with Halliday. In the third over of the final 20 Milling had Maxwell caught at deep square leg. 156-3-15. Kidd was bowled by Halliday three overs later. 172-4-5. Harrison replaced Milling and took three wickets in a five over spell - all to good catches. Miller, trying to accelerate, was caught by Rea at deep extra cover. 182-5-94 came in 177 minutes, with nine fours and a six. Milling caught Simmons running in from long-off. 189-6-1. Rea caught Cass brilliantly at mid-on. 198-7-5.
Halliday kept going but Harrison was taken off and Milling restored with five overs to go. Donald and Van Lint played out these overs. It had been a good match of swaying fortunes. Ireland's 345-9 was the highest ever score against MCC. Cohen scored 2 50s in a match for the second time and received the Irish Butterly Brick Man-of-the-Match award - a tankard + Sterling 25. Butterly Brick also gave a glass bowl for the winners of this annual match.