The final limited overs (60) match against professional County opposition was this Nat West Trophy match. Defeat by 304 runs was Ireland's worst ever. Apart from the uneveness of the Amateur -v- Professional contest the pitch at Ormeau was probably the quickest ever seen for a home match in Ireland - four new pitches having been laid a few years previously.
Sussex had one change since the Benson & Hedges Cup Match in April, DRC Law replacing K Newell. Ireland selected 12. Eagleson (now fit) replaced the injured Lewis in the team that played MCC Doak was added to make 12. It was Doak who dropped out due to work commitments. Benson retained the captaincy. The first day started well weatherwise but the forecast rain arrived. The lunch interval was prolonged by an hour. Then came a further break of 25 minutes. Finally, at 4 20 pm, play was abandoned for the day after Sussex had batted for 55 of their 60 overs, after being sent in.
The first five overs from Eagleson and Patterson yielded 26 of which five were wides. In all 13 wides were bowled in the innings. Patterson stemmed the flow with a maiden and Eagleson's first six overs went for only 19 (the 7th cost 11). 50 came in 12 overs. Greenfield (12) might have been out at 30 if Patterson had more than one slip. McCrum and Heasley were tried and did not do too badly. The last ball of the 22nd over, at 96, gave Heasley the first wicket. Greenfield (32) was caught at the wicket. Wells arrived and did most of the scoring in the next stand - 40 out of 55. 100 was up in over 24. A fair rate of scoring brought up 150 in over 31. Benson bowled over 32 at 151 and Athey (57) gave him a return catch off the first ball. Speight, who had caused havoc in Hove in April, arrived. Lunch came after 33 overs at 154-2, Wells 41, Speight 2.
After the rain delay Speight hit 41 off 38 balls. 200 came up in over 38. 47 were added in 6 overs after lunch and Wells reached 51 off 47 balls. There was another 25 minute delay. In over 42 Speight put up a skier off McCrum which Harrison held safely. 219-3-41. Lenham made 11 before he was out slashing at McCrum in over 46. 243 for 4. Wells went to his century (102) in over 51 off 91 balls. Next over he hit Heasley for a six and got out next ball when Moore caught a massive skier at deep square leg. 297-5-113. Moores followed him 10 runs later when he was bowled driving at Patterson in over 53. 307-6-7. Salisbury (recalled to the Test team five days later) arrived. He lost Law (18) at 311 (in over 54) who was out to a fine catch by Dunlop at deep gully off Heasley. After 55 overs the rains came with Sussex 232-7, Salisbury 14, Drakes 0. The 15 overs since the previous rain break had seen 110 runs added.
The second day was sunny. The "slog" was on and the fast pitch suited a professional slog. 61 were added in the last five overs bowled by Eagleson (3) for 33 runs and one each by Patterson, 14 runs, and Heasley, 14 runs. Eagleson got the eighth wicket when Salisbury, 33 in 19 balls, was caught at mid-off by Stephen Donnelly, a substitute fielder, at 353. Previously Heasley caught a great catch off Drakes in front of the pavilion but was over the line. Heasley took his fourth wicket when A Patterson caught Jarvis at long on at the second attempt in the penultimate over. In the last over both Dunlop and McCallan dropped skiers. Drakes was left 30 not out off 15 balls.
This was the highest score conceded by Ireland in a limited overs match and the bowling figures reflected this. Patterson 88 in 11 overs, Eagleson 74 in 12 and three others in the 60's, Heasley having 4 for 66 in 11. Sussex hit 3 x 6 and 41 x 4.
Ireland's innings lasted 33.3 overs and lunch was delayed by 12 minutes to finish it. Benson was out to the second ball flicking Jarvis to second slip. Andrew Patterson left lbw to Jarvis, in over 5 and Dunlop was bowled in the same over. At 26 Drakes had McCallan, who played well and hit two out of four fours in the innings, lbw falling across his wicket to hit to leg. Drakes struck again at 38 when Heasley, playing too soon, was caught at short leg. Giddings a promising fast bowler replaced Jarvis. He had just tested positive in a random dope test! In his first over he slanted one in to bowl Moore (5 in 32 balls). In his third over he bowled Rutherford. 49-7-2. Salisbury, leg spinner, replaced Drakes. 50 came up in over 22. In over 25 Harrison swept Salisbury in the air to long leg. Eagleson and Mark Patterson then had the best stand of the innings - 16 runs for the 9th wicket. Then Giddings seamed one away from Patterson who was caught at the wicket. Law was given a bowl and soon had McCrum caught. Eagleson deserved to be not out with two fours in his 15.
Wells was given the Man-of-the-Match Award by FM Engineer, the former Indian batsman and wicket-keeper. Drakes had best bowling figures for Sussex, 3 for 19 in 10 overs.
Should we play on fast pitches in Ireland? They certainly suit professional opposition but the theory is we should get used to playing on good hard surfaces.