The Benson & Hedges Cup, having moved to a knock-out competition, saw Ireland play in it for the first time. Leicestershire was the opposition at Grace Road. In 1986 Ireland played there in a Nat.West Trophy match. Survivors from that match were Warke, McBrine and Jackson on the Irish side. Boon and Whitaker played for Leicester in 1986. Practice on the previous day at Leicester had been undertaken in foul wintry conditions. The match day dawned fine and warm and a good crowd attended. The pitch was slow.
Ireland retained Lewis as Captain but Warke, recovered from his broken arm, also played. Curry was also recalled. C McCrum and Nelson were selected as quick bowlers but both cried off, Nelson not being available all season. Following the Kenya trip neither could get off work. P McCrum was then selected to replace his brother but he too was unable to play. ER Moore came in and was now the only opening bowler. Graham replaced Nelson. SG Smyth was also recalled but gave preference to rugby and was replaced by Dunlop. A McBrine was recalled for the first time since 1992. S.M Taylor traveled as 12th man. MF Cohen will be out of the country for three years on a business assignment.
Phil Simmons, making his debut for Leicestershire, had played for West Indies -v- England in Antigua the previous week when Lara made 375. The weakened Irish side lost by nine wickets but it took Leicestershire 50.1 overs to score the necessary 161 runs to win. At one time Ireland, having won the toss and batted, were 91 for 2 in the 33rd over. This was close to 3 runs per over and with 8 wickets in hand a score of 200, or more, seemed possible. However, by over 45 this became 116 for 6 and the chance of a good score was lost.
Benson, sacked last year by Leicester, had his usual bright opening. Eight runs came off the first over from Mullally including four byes. In Mullally's next over Curry played on from an inside edge. Warke came in. The score was moved to 32 in the 10th over when Benson clipped Parsons off his toes straight to Pierson at short mid-wicket. 32-2-14. Warke was playing and missing on the slow pitch but settled down with Lewis as his partner. Parsons bowled 8 overs for 8 runs. Millns had a spell. Both he and Mullally were being watched by Raymond Illingworth, England's new Chairman of Selectors.
50 was up in 20.1 overs. Simmons was given a spell and Lewis hit two fours through the covers. By over 26 Leicester had tried 6 bowlers. Lewis was next to go. Having blocked 5 balls of Simmons' 6th over (33rd) he was caught at cover skying a drive. 91-3-27. The 59 run stand occupied 141 balls. Progress was slow up to lunch, taken after 39 overs, at 100 - but another wicket had fallen in the 38th over, when Pierson beat Harrison with a beautifully flighted off-break which left the left hander. Warke was 38 at lunch.
Two more wickets fell quickly. At 114 Dunlop, the non-striker called a run, was rightly sent back by Warke and had his wicket thrown down by Simmons from cover. McBrine, half driving half pushing, was bowled by Millns at 116 in the 45th over. Graham came in and laid about him scoring 19 while Warke made 4 - a fine snick which brought him to 51 out of 134. After adding two more Warke skied to cover off Millns in the 51st over. 145-7-53. Warke had celebrated his 93rd record equalling appearance for Ireland (M. Halliday also had 93) with 5 fours and faced 140 balls.
In the next over Graham set out for a second run with the ball in the fielders hands and was run out at the bowler's end. He had made 22 off 24 balls. Mullally returned for the next over and had Moore caught at the wicket. The last pair Jackson and Hoey collected 11 in the remaining 16 balls. 5 of Leicester's 6 bowlers took wickets and Pierson's 1 for 16 in 11 overs was an impressive spell of off-spin.
Simmons and his captain Briers opened for Leicester and progressed slowly against Moore and Harrison. Harrison bowled a seven over spell for 10 runs with only one boundary. Hoey and McBrine were expensive in short spells, Simmons hitting Hoey for a six. 50 came up in 17.1 overs. Tea came after 27 overs at 87, Briers 30 Simmons 51. Curry and Lewis were the post tea bowlers. 100 was up in 30.2 overs. Then Leicester lost their only wicket. In over 33 Simmons clipped Lewis off his toes to Benson at mid wicket - a good low two handed catch diving to the right. 105-1-64. Simmons hit a six and 9 fours off 95 balls. Boon came in and despite frequent bowling changes a stand of 59 saw Leicester home in 50.1 overs. Briers made 70 off 141 balls with 8 fours.
The Press Corps made Simmons Man-of-the-Match, an award which Warke might have merited. Two successful Irish players made their final appearance for Ireland in this match.
PB Jackson His great wicket-keeping career came to an end in this his 87th cap, the same as another great wicket-keeper, OD Colhoun. His first cap was in 1981 where he made his debut in the same match as SJS.Warke. He was now 34 and a back injury prevented him playing for Ireland again. In his career he scored 987 runs at 14.51. He scored 2 50's - a highest of 89* when the innings ended against Wales at Welshpool in 1987. He had 133 dismissals, 103 ct and 30 st. Following M Halliday he was captain 25 times (1987-90) but only once was he a winning captain.
A McBrine Universally known as "Junior" he was playing his 35th match in a career that lasted between 1985 and 1994. A slow left arm bowler and quick scoring batsman, he appeared to lose interest somewhat after 1987 and only played 7 matches since then. He scored 654 runs at an average of 22.56. He scored 1 century, 102 against Scotland at Coleraine in 1987 and 1 fifty. He took 44 wickets at an average of 40.52
- Phil Simmons sweeps watched by wicketkeeper Paul Jackson
- Another sweep shot from Simmons
- Stephen Warke is hit on the pads by Leicester opening bowler David Millns
- Alan Lewis
- Stephen Warke
- Desmond Curry is bowled by Alan Mullaly
- Alan Lewis facing David Millns
- Junior McBrine is bowled by Millns
- Uel Graham flicks the ball to fine leg
- Paul Jackson
- Alan Lewis hits Phil Simmons for four