This was an exciting match, of nostalgia, of records and a tight finish. For the first time since 1963 the College Park pitch was considered up to International play. The pitch looked poor but was always in a reasonable state despite being low and slow. 811 runs were scored for the loss of 29 wickets. Warke and Rea batted into the 79th over and put on 224 for the first wicket. This broke all Irish wicket records and there was only one chance given by Rea (when 36) when the score was 70. At Lords against MCC in 1879 N Hone and DN Trotter had put on 161 for the first wicket. This stood as a record for 113 years despite some near misses.
222 for the fourth wicket was the best partnership of all until this match. This was against Scotland at Hamilton Crescent in 1976 by AJ O'Riordan and IJ Anderson who both made centuries. Two centuries in one innings for Ireland were made by RH Lambert and HGH Mulholland in 1911, also at Hamilton Crescent - the only other instance of this feat. Warke's century was his fourth and when 28 he became the second man to reached 3000 runs for Ireland. When Rea was 100 he had scored 1000 runs for Ireland and it was his first century for Ireland. This was Ireland's 50th match at College Park since the first in 1868. Five previous Irish centuries had been scored there, the last, and highest, (137) by SF Bergin against Scotland in 1959.
The match itself had weird hours of play due to Welsh travelling arrangements. Day one was 1:30 PM-7:30 PM; day two 10:30 AM-7 PM and day three 10:30 AM-3:45 PM. The weather was mostly sunny but windy. 33 minutes were lost to rain on day one and seven minutes on day two. Ireland, having got a 55 run lead on day two, could only score 49-2 in 24 overs on the rest of that day. This may have cost the match but Wales were given a fair declaration.
201 runs were asked of them in 160 minutes plus a minimum 20 overs. This in fact became 56 overs. With 27 deliveries to go Wales were 162-3, needing a further 39. Then Curry bowled Derrick and Wales were 12 short of victory with six wickets down at the end of the match. For Ireland GD Harrison and P McCrum were unavailable as was the still injured Cohen. Then C McCrum and Nelson cried off and were replaced by Thompson and Moore (who bowled very well). Hoey was recalled. For Wales only five of the 1991 team remained - Puddle, Lloyd, Harris, Ikram and A Griffiths. Derrick was a former Glamorgan player.
Warke and Rea started slowly to the bowling of Derrick and A Griffiths. This was understandable in view of the low bounce. Ikram with leg spin replaced Griffiths after only 2 overs from the latter. Derrick was given 11 overs (for 29 runs) and was replaced at 46 by Lloyd's offspin. 50 came up in 24 overs (bowled in 77 minutes). After 31.1 overs, at 70-0, Warke 26, Rea 36, rain drove the players off the field. Tea was taken but there was an 83 minute break. Play resumed at 4:31 PM and went through to 7:30 PM - a long stint. 100 came up in 41.5 overs but at 70 Rea (36) was dropped by Puddle at slip of Ikram. Rea was 1st to 50 in 130 minutes and Warke followed 36 minutes later. The next 50 took 18 overs and the fourth 50 13 overs. Along the way the existing first wicket record was broken. Rea hit Ikram for 3 successive fours in over 59. His century and his thousand runs for Ireland came together. Then Wales turned to a sixth bowler, R Wiseman, for the 75th over. In his third over hit for 2 by Rea broke the best of all stands, 222 by O'Riordan and Anderson. Next ball Rea seemed to give up tamely hitting Wiseman to long-off. 224-1-106, all in 243 minutes. In Wiseman's fifth over both Smyth and Curry were LBW within 3 balls of each other. Why Curry batted at this stage was a mystery! In the remaining 4 overs Warke went to his century in 260 minutes. He was 104 and Lewis had not yet scored at the close when the total was 238-3 in 87 overs.
On the second morning Ireland batted another 12 overs, which took 47 minutes and added only 28 runs. They lost 3 more wickets. At 245 Lewis called a pretty daft run and was run out at the bowler's end by a direct hit. Dunlop became Wiseman's third LBW victim (all without scoring) also at 245. Griffiths ended Warke's 318 minute stint with the score at 266 - yet another LBW - and Patterson was bowled at the same score. Jackson went in to face 5 balls before a declaration, still at 266. Wiseman bowled 13 overs (out of 99) and took 5-20. He opened the second innings bowling!
Apart from a 7 minute rain break Wales had 75 minutes to bat up to lunch. They lost 2 wickets. Thompson bowled Harris with the score at 20. Hoey replaced Thompson at 28 and in his third over bowled Sylvester with the score at 34. At lunch J Griffiths (14) and Derrick (9) had brought the score to 49-2 in 24 overs. This pair dominated play after lunch. The second 50 took only 12 overs mostly at the expense of Hoey and Dunlop. Griffiths reached 50 in 92 minutes and Wales were riding high at 136-2.
Enter Lewis, the partnership breaker! His first ball bowled Derrick for 39 after a 102 run stand in 87 minutes, the first ever century third wicket stand for Wales against Ireland. In his fifth over Lewis had Griffiths (81) caught at mid-off from a full toss which Curry dived forward to catch. Now wickets tumbled to Moore and Hoey. At 177 Warke took a low right handed slip catch to dismiss Gibbons off Hoey, the latter having returned after 8 good overs by Lewis (2-15). At 181 Moore took the first of his 3 wickets in 25 deliveries - all bowled. Puddle played a lazy forward stroke. Tea came at 183-6, Lloyd 6, Wiseman 0.
In the first over after tea, no runs added, Moore bowled Wiseman. 10 runs later he bowled Poole. Hoey had Lloyd caught also at 193. A Griffiths and Ikram added 18, saw 200 up, and delayed the end by 17 minutes. Then Ikram gave Smyth a swirling catch taken running back from gully off Hoey. Moore's 3-36 in 22 overs was very good and kept him in the next match for which P McCrum was not recalled. Hoey had 4-57 in 21.1 overs. The last 7 Welsh wickets fell for the addition of 46 runs.
Knowing there were only some 260 minutes available on the last day the Irish tactics in the remaining 93 minutes on the second day seemed wrong. In 25 overs only 52 runs were scored leaving the lead at 107. Rea emulated JR Gill in 1948 (with a century and a nought) when he departed LBW to Wiseman's fifth ball. Warke and Smyth painstakingly put on 30 in 52 minutes. Then Ikram's third ball spun in to have the left-handed Smyth LBW for the second time in the match. A Griffiths became the third bowler in the innings to take a wicket in his first over - again LBW. Warke was out for 18. The total now was 38-3. With 18 minutes to go Moore was used as a night watchman (?) The score was 52-3 at stumps, Lewis 11, Moore 1.
Lewis dominated the next morning's play. He scored 51, adding 40 today in 68 minutes out of 71 scored while he was in. At 70 Moore became the eighth Irish LBW victim of the match. Dunlop was bowled by Wiseman with the score at 92. Patterson and Lewis saw 100 up in 38.5 overs and added 31 in 28 minutes. Lewis hit Lloyd for a fine straight six. He reached 50 off 81 balls and was caught at mid-wicket of Derrick for 51 with the total at 123. Patterson and Curry put on 22 in 3 overs and the declaration came at 11:57 AM. Wiseman had 3-37 to add to his first innings five wicket haul.
201 to win was the target when Sylvester and Harris set sail. In 16 overs before lunch they scored 43, Sylvester 16, Harris 25. In 20 overs they had 50 up. On they went to 80 in 35.3 overs. Dunlop bowled 4 successive maidens to stem the rate of scoring. Then came partnership breaker Lewis. In his second over 2 wickets fell. A direct hit by Smyth run out Harris (45) with the score at 80. Three balls later Lewis bowled J Griffiths, the danger man who had got 81 in the first innings. Lewis was removed after 3 overs for Hoey. His 7th ball had Sylvester (37) caught with the total on 99. Derrick and Puddle were now the Welsh hopes. The last 20 overs began after over 36 with the score at 83-2. 15.5 overs still remained when Puddle arrived with 102 required, more than a run-a-ball. Curry was now bowling. 6 overs in tandem with Hoey brought 24 runs. Dunlop was given 2 overs which yielded 14. Curry was also yielding 6 or 7 per over with his off breaks. Then, in the fifth last over, indeed Curry's last, he bowled Derrick for 46 with a ball that he tried to cut as it drifted into him. 162-4-46. 63 had been added in 41 minutes. 39 more runs were now needed off 26 deliveries. A Griffiths defended the last 2 balls of Curry's over. Lewis was now on. With 4 overs to go 39 were needed. 10 came in Lewis's next over.
29 were now needed in 3 overs. Moore bowled the third last over - off which a single came on every ball - and 23 were needed in 2 overs. Lewis bowled the second last over. Off the second ball, Curry, on the ground on the offside, contrived a direct hit to run out Puddle. On the last ball of that over Lewis bowled a wild swinging Wiseman. An unlikely 19 were now required of the last over bowled by Moore. A Griffiths hit a 4 and a 2 in 2 balls. 13 were still needed off 4 but it was not to be and Wales ended 12 short. Lewis bowled 6 overs, took 2-28 but both run outs occurred while he was bowling. The first match at College Park since 1963 was a success with only the pitch needing attention.