Ireland tour of Zimbabwe 1990-1991
This was a repeat of a similar tour which had taken place in January 1986. The money was mostly raised by the players and officials getting advertisements for a monster 1991 ICU Yearbook. This effort was managed by JA O'Meara (tour manager) and John Elder who edited and produced the book. The team left Ireland on March 7 and returned on April 1 (Easter Monday). Nine matches were played incorporating 15 days cricket. There were 5 one-day limited overs matches (of which three were non-cap), 2 two-day and 2 three-day matches.
The itinerary was complicated by Worcestershire and Glamorgan visits to Zimbabwe overlapping the Irish visit. Ideally Ireland should have begun in the Bulawayo area and finished in the stronger cricket area of Harare - the reverse in fact was necessary. The only sight seeing was an overnight visit to Victoria Falls. There were 16 hotel nights and seven nights in three separate billets on the tour.
Of the 20 players who played for Ireland in 1990, 13 were selected for the tour. In addition there were CJ Hoey (a new cap) and KR Bailey, the reserve wicket-keeper who had last played in 1988. Three players who had played in 1990 were not available - MF Cohen, NE Thompson and DA Vincent. Had he been available it is likely that SM Taylor, a youthful slow left-arm bowler, would have been selected.
With the official party were W I Lewis, the ICU President of 1989 who acted as President in the absence of KF O'Riordan, the 1991 President who was ill; J.D. Monteith (Chairman of Selectors); JA O'Meara (team Manager) and Derek Scott (Honorary Secretary ICU). Also with the party were Mrs Ida Lewis, DR Pigot (a selector travelling at his own expense) Bernard Burke, Alec Stutt, Billy Bell and Ian Callender (journalist). The latter covered most of the Irish Media, augmented by reports from PM O'Reilly (a player) and the Team Manager JA O'Meara.
The party was met at Harare Airport at 6:30 AM on March 8 and taken by bus to Harare South's clubhouse. Breakfast was served there. There was a short practice and a game park visit. Next day there was intensive practice prior to the opening match on March 10. The party was billeted privately in this area for three nights among many hosts.
It came as no surprise when Mashonaland Country Districts won this match fairly easily. Ireland had not played cricket since September and had only been in Zimbabwe for 48 Hours. Practice and stamina training had been good over the last six months, but this was the "real thing" in hot weather on a flat pitch against a team with seven Zimbabwe players including the first five batsmen. Ireland left out Bailey, N Nelson, Nulty and O'Reilly. This meant two changes from the previous match against Scotland. Smyth came in for the unavailable Cohen and Hoey, a new cap leg spinner for N Nelson. This was a 50 overs per side match. It was decided to pack the batting and hope that a Lewis/Dunlop combination could bowl 10 overs. In fact these two bowled 11 overs for 56 and were an expensive combination relative to the other four bowlers.
At 9:30 AM (!) Ireland sent MCD in. To hold this team to a score of 228-6 in 50 overs was very good. The Irish team bowled, fielded and caught very well, even if 12 wides were bowled. After 40 overs the score was 170-2. McCrum and Nelson held MCD in the last 10 overs to only 58 and took four more wickets. The batting, however, never came to grips with the rate. Only a superb 77 by Patterson brought respectability.
Bruk-Jackson and Arnott had no trouble in the first 10 overs from McCrum (28 runs) and Nelson (15). Lewis was tried as first change and this perhaps was a mistake as it kept no pressure on the opening pair. Harrison came on for the 12th over and bowled his 10 overs straight for 35 runs without conceding a boundary. He it was who took the first wicket in the 20th over when the score was 81. He bowled Bruk-Jackson for 38. Waller, the captain, then came in and Hoey had his first bowl for Ireland when he came on for the 23rd over. Hoey did quite well if sometimes over pitching. The second pair added 66 in 52 minutes.
Dunlop replaced Harrison and took the next wicket. With the score on 147 he had Waller (35) well held by McCrum at deep square leg. G Patterson was next and a rapid 44 put on in only 22 minutes. Both he and Arnott lifted the pace. Then Hoey, in the 43rd over, had Patterson caught at the wicket - his first International wicket. 191-3-22. In the remaining 7.3 overs MCD only got 37 and lost three more wickets. Numbers five (Robertson) and six (Cary) both failed to score. The former was caught at long-on by Smyth off Nelson with the score on 201 and Cary was LBW to Nelson with the score on 203. The resolute Arnott had batted for 175 minutes for 99. He hit two sixes and 5 fours and 39 singles. Off the first ball of the 49th over McCrum had him well held at short extra cover. The remaining 11 deliveries yielded 15 to Peall and Kok.
After a long lunch break Ireland went in at 1:27 PM. Warke and Rea began to Carey and Reinders. Cary bowled his 10 of the reel and really put Ireland out of the game by yielding only 13 runs - even though he did not take a wicket, and bowled 2 wides in his first over. In the eighth over confusion over a second run lead to Rea's run out. Dunlop then came in. Warke had begun well but now ran out of form. His 24 runs took 44 minutes. Waller, in the 18th over, bowled Dunlop. 47-2-11. Dunlop faced 45 deliveries. Staunton, slow left arm, came on for the 21st over and bowled Warke (21 off 52 deliveries) at once. Lewis gave a sharp stumping chance before scoring. He then set to work and made 30 out of 40 added with Smyth. Peall, an offspinner, and the sixth bowler tried came on for the 32nd over. In the previous over Staunton had bowled Smyth. 90-4-6. When Peall started to bowl the score was 92, with 137 needed in 18 overs. Peall's third ball had Lewis LBW. Patterson now began his counter-attack. He soon lifted Peall for a massive straight six. He and Harrison added 38 in nine overs. Then Waller returned and bowled Harrison. 130-6-14. In 4 overs Patterson and Jackson put on 34, one Peall over going for 16. Waller bowled Jackson at 164 at the end of the 45th over. 65 were still needed in 5 overs. 38 were scored with more Patterson sixes. 29 were needed off the last over by Peall but Patterson gave up - until the last ball when he swung at it wildly and was bowled. He made 77 in 62 balls in 71 minutes with 5 sixes and 3 fours. Peall bowled 10 of the last 20 overs for 59 runs. He might not have been kept on if Ireland were nearer the target.
A reception was held in the Harare South clubhouse. Early next morning the party left by bus to start a match against Zimbabwe Schools at 9:30 AM at Prince Edward College in Harare.