Before this Yorkshire match Ireland were due to play Essex at Downpatrick. But the match was abandoned without a ball being bowled. Essex were the only County Ireland had never played. So it remained. Heavy rain for a week before this match made a bog of the Downpatrick outfield. There was never a remote possibility of play on either day.
Essex would select from 13 players - PJ Prichard (Captain); N Hussein; GA Gooch; RC Irani; SG Law; AP Grayson; DR Law; RJ Rollins (W-K); MC Ilott; AP Cowan; PM Such; NF Williams; DDJ Robinson.
Hussein; Gooch; Irani; Ilott; Such and Williams had all played for England. Cowan was selected for the West Indies tour to take place in January 1998 and SG Law had played for Australia.
Ireland would select from 12. JD Curry; AD Patterson (W-K); DA Lewis; WJ Cronje; JDR Benson (Captain); AR Dunlop; NG Doak; D Heasley; PG Gillespie; G Cooke; GL Molins; P McCrum. By virtue of the one point gained in this match Ireland finished fourth in their Section, with Middlesex (pointless) below them in last place.
Yorkshire v Ireland
90 minutes after the start of this match another famous Irish win looked not possible but probable. Ireland sent Yorkshire in and the County were 55 for six. There ended Ireland's chance. The County reached 249 and Ireland could only muster 53 and were lucky to do so.
The day was sunny. The pitch was fast. The two England Test bowlers, Gough and Silverwood, bowled very fast and with great rhythm. The Irish batsmen could not cope. In retrospect if Yorkshire had staggered to 100 in their innings they would probably still have won.
This was Ireland's third Nat West Trophy match -v- Yorkshire at Headingley in five seasons. For the match, seven weeks after the last game of 1997 (Glamorgan B. & H. Cup) Ireland brought back Curry, Eagleson, Rutherford and McCallan to replace Cronje (returned to South Africa), Moore, Cooke and Gillespie all of whom were injured. Yorkshire had five England Test players, Gough, Silverwood, Blakey, White and Moxon. Their overseas player was Lehmann, unlucky not to have an Australian Cap. Both Yorkshire openers failed to score. McCrum bowled a maiden to Moxon. Eagleson bowled four wides in his first six balls to the youthful McGrath. His eighth delivery was snicked to Rutherford.
Yorkshire's Captain, Byas, was next to go. He scored 10 but was lbw pulling Eagleson when the ball kept low. The game was in its seventh over when McCrum joined in the wicket taking. Moxon had faced 17 balls without scoring. He pushed at McCrum and gave Rutherford his second catch. 23-3-0. Lehmann was joined by Parker and the latter also failed to score. In the ninth over, McCrum's fifth, he pushed a ball to Molins at square point, 31 for four. White came in. In 1995 he had come in at 31 for three! The next stand, Lehmann and White was the best so far. 14 runs came in 29 balls but a change of bowling, Heasley for Eagleson, brought the fifth wicket. Heasley's third ball was short. Lehmann tried to cut and dragged the ball into his stumps. 45-5-17. White and Blakey were now intent on playing out McCrum's remaining overs. Coming down the hill he was bowling superbly well. In his 10th over he got Blakey caught by Patterson diving to his right and taking the ball low and two handed at third slip. Yorkshire were now 55 for six when Hartley joined White in the 19th over.
Ireland's success period was over. McCrum bowled out his 12 overs for 26 runs and three wickets. He conceded only three runs in his last four overs. Ireland cried out for another seamer at this point. Instead Molins and Benson had to be used but did not do badly. Heasley just before this had 14 taken off one over which moved the score from 56 to 70 in 22 overs. Lunch came after 30 overs at 97, Hartley 10, White 43 (five fours).
Eagleson and Heasley bowled post lunch. Hartley monopolised the strike and moved from 10 to 31 before White added to his 43. Then Hartley hit Molins for a six and in the same over, the 41st, White went to 50 in 83 balls. A gamble was taken with Lewis but his three overs cost 23. After 40 overs the score was 129. Benson and Curry stemmed the flow. After 45 overs only 26 more runs had been scored. Then, with the first ball of the 46th over, Benson got White lbw on the front foot. 155-7-63. Exactly 100 had been added off just more than 26 overs.
Gough joined Hartley and another stand ensued, peppered with missed chances. Hartley went to 50 off 92 balls at 176 in over 51. Curry had bowled four overs for 11. In his fifth over Hartley (57) with the score at 183 in the 52nd over was dropped at long-on by McCrum, usually a safe fielder. In the same over Curry dropped a fierce return catch also by Hartley. In his next over the unfortunate Curry suffered again. Hartley hit him for six and two balls later Dunlop dropped him moving to his left at deep extra-cover. The score was 205 after 55 overs. Benson's 11 overs cost 55 runs. 15 came off his last over including a six to Gough.
Eagleson and Heasley bowled the last four overs of the innings and the last three wickets fell. In over 58 (Heasley) Hartley sliced a skier to mid-off which Benson caught. 234-8-83. Hartley faced 118 balls and hit three sixes and eight fours. His stand with Gough was 79 in 76 balls. The final over was also bowled by Heasley and Lewis came into the game on two successive balls. His long accurate throw to the bowler ran out Gough (46 off 47 balls) and the next ball to long off which Lewis caught with three balls of the innings left. Ireland bowled 20 wides and were in line for a £220 fine for being one over beyond the time limit allowed for 60 overs. The fine was mitigated with a warning.
McCrum was the only bowler of the seven used to bowl a full quota of 12. Heasley and Eagleson yielded four per over and took five wickets between them Molins and Benson gave away five per over.
Ireland started at 3.20 p.m. and all was over at 4.45 p.m. with the game in its 19th over. In Gough's first over McCallan, the non-striker, was almost run out backing up for the first ball. He was out in Gough's second over snicking a half drive shot to the wicket-keeper. Lewis lasted six balls. The fifth from Silverwood hit him on the body. The next he snicked low to second slip. Benson was lbw in the sixth over to a half hearted appeal. Numbers three, four and five had all failed to score when Patterson played on off the back foot and all three were Silverwood victims.
Curry made Ireland's score 12 for five in the ninth over. He was probably frustrated by what was happening at the other end. The next three stands were all in double figures,12 by Heasley and Dunlop, 15 (the best) by Heasley and Eagleson, and 14 by Eagleson and Rutherford. Dunlop made five off 20 balls and had his big toe broken when Gough got him lbw at 24 - the ball cut back and kept low. The next pair raised 15 and took the score to 39, Ireland's lowest in this competition. Then Heasley, who hit four of the five fours struck in the innings, was bowled off the inside edge by Gough. Heasley's 18 was the highest score. The only other double figure score (10) was by Eagleson who was next out at 53. In fact Eagleson was the first victim of a Gough hat trick in his tenth over.
Eagleson got one that leapt up at him. He fended it off high to Byas jumping at second slip. Molins and McCrum, both lbw, followed in the next two balls and the innings was over. It was the seventh hat trick against Ireland. The previous one was by Le Roux of Sussex at Hove in 1985 during Ireland's dismissal for the aforementioned 39. In 34 years in this Competition Yorkshire never before had a hat trick. Gough's seven for 27 in 9.5 overs won him Man-of-the-Match. Silverwood, also bowled very fast and had three for 24 in eight overs. Hartley bowled one over - a maiden.