Nine days after the Sussex match at Hove the first home Benson & Hedges Cup match of 1996 was played -v- Gloucestershire at Clontarf Cricket Club.
The match was very stereotyped. Gloucester won the toss, batted, lost a wicket at 26 in the 7th over and then lost a second wicket at 247 in the 47th over. The last 10 overs, as usual, were expensive for the Irish bowlers. Gloucester scored 103 in those last 10. In Ireland's reply they only batted 40 overs and scored 140, only Lewis and Benson scoring more than 10.
Ireland retained 13 of the 14 who had been in England for the two away matches, Rea alone being left out. Then Smyth opted to play for his club on the eve of the match and was thereby excluded. Declan Moore of The Hills Cricket Club came in and played - a new cap. Graham could not get off work and was not replaced in the 13. Doubts surrounded Eagleson's fitness and GL Molins, a young slow left arm bowler, was called in. In fact both of these players were left out of the team that played, Gillespie playing his first 1996 match. Doak was now fit again.
Gloucestershire's captain, Courtney Walsh, had not returned from Test Match duty in West Indies. England's current wicket-keeper, RC Russell, captained the team. Also included were A Symonds, born in England, but brought up in Australia. Controversy surrounded him as he had dual Test Match qualification and had refused an England "A" tour to Pakistan during the Winter. AM Smith, in the Gloucester team as a fast left arm bowler, had made this tour.
A fine day greeted the match. The pitch was, as usual, low and slow when Gloucester won the toss and batted. Patterson and McCrum opened Ireland's bowling to AJ Wright, whose benefit year this was, and RI Dawson. Before Dawson got used to the pitch's pace he clipped Patterson to Doak at mid-off, in the 7th over. 26-1-5. The promising RJ Cunliffe came in and both he and Wright made centuries adding 221 for the 2nd wicket in 38 overs. This is a new 2nd wicket record -v- Ireland beating the 188 by Storie and Patterson for Scotland in 1994, at Hamilton Crescent, Glasgow. Moore was the surprise first change bowler (two overs for 11) but after the 15 overs of limited field placings Gloucestershire had been restricted to 63, of which Wright had made 37. Wright reached 50 out of 94 in the 24th over. At 92 Cunliffe (24) gave a hard chance to Lewis at mid-off off Benson's bowling.
Ireland rang the bowling changes and used eight bowlers in all. 100 came up in over 26 and 150 in over 33, just after Cunliffe reached 50. Doak bowled three overs for 20 and Lewis four for 39, including the last of the innings which yielded 15. 200 and Wright's century both arrived in over 40. Then Benson dropped a catch and bowl off Cunliffe (79) at 219 and saw Rutherford drop a catch at the wicket off his bowling when Cunliffe was 82 at 227. In over 45 Wright was run out when Cunliffe refused a second run and Dunlop's throw beat Wright's attempt to get back. 247-2-123. Wright hit a six and 10 fours and faced 129 balls. He won the Man-of-the Match Award.
Lewis dropped Symonds at extra cover off McCrum when he was eight. This was not expensive as Patterson yorked him for nine at 257 off the next ball bowled. In the remaining four overs Cunliffe and Hancock added 51, 18 coming off Patterson's 10th over. There was a series of drives and pulls by both batsmen which the spectators enjoyed. Cunliffe went to 100 by taking 12 off the 48th over bowled by McCrum. He finished with 116 not out, 3 x 6, 5 x 4 and faced 137 balls.
10 wides and four no balls were bowled by the eight Irish bowlers. The only wicket taker was Patterson. Gillespie was easily the least expensive. He bowled five overs for 11 runs but then developed a side strain which prevented further bowling.
At 3.05 p.m. Warke and Harrison opened for Ireland, the latter in his 100th match. He did not survive long but longer than Warke who was lbw to Cooper off the innings' first ball. Harrison, half forward, was lbw at 16 and the promising Moore (10) skied a catch and bowl at 29. In over 12 Lewis and Benson came together and both began to play very well. Benson took 11 off a Cooper over and 50 came up in over 19. On they went until over 24 and a score of 71. Then Benson hit a single to the left of Symonds at mid-off. Lewis called an impossible second and Benson was run out by a distance by the left handed throw. 71-4-29. Benson scored his 29 off 23 balls. Dunlop was lbw first ball and Doak caught at the wicket at 76. Gillespie departed lbw at 85 and McCrum was bowled at 86. Rutherford was made of sterner stuff. He only made 10 but stayed with Lewis while 46 were added for the 9th wicket. Lewis was in great form in what was also his 100th match. In this stand he hit a six and four fours, brought up 100 in over 35 and went to his 50 with a four in over 38. He got to 61 and drove a fierce catch back at Alleyne who held on. Patterson hit two fours off the only balls he faced and Rutherford was stumped in the next over to end the innings after 40.1 overs.
Lewis faced 97 balls for his 61 with a six and seven fours. All five of Gloucestershire's bowlers took at least one wicket. Smith had three for 23 in his 10 overs and Lewis three for 31 also in 10. Gloucestershire's wide and no-ball count was only four.
The Irish Cricket Union presented cut glass bowls to Garfield Harrison and Alan Lewis both of whom were celebrating 100 caps the first to do so after Stephen Warke.
Lewis, when six, reached 3,000 runs in his 125th innings. He was the third to reach this mark after Anderson and Warke.