A splendid match on a good three day pitch at Malahide. In the fourth innings, after three declarations, Scotland appeared to be winning with some ease. Wickets fell and the last pair had to bat out 15 balls still 27 runs short of victory. It seems after captain George Salmond's dismissal communications to the batsmen broke down and only 14 runs were scored in the last eight overs.
For Ireland Lewis was not available. Mark Patterson was chosen for his first match of the season but broke his finger playing for Surrey 2nd XI. Curry returned for Lewis and Cooke replaced Heasley from the Triple Crown match -v- Wales. Byrne, Davy and Joyce were making first class debuts and only four survived from the 1996 Scotland match - McCallan, AD Patterson, Rutherford and GL Molins.
Rain began on the morning of the match at 9.30 a.m. It was not very heavy and stopped at noon. A start was not made until 2.30 p.m. It could have started much earlier. Play was scheduled from 11.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m. The sun had now come out when Scotland won the toss and sent Ireland in. Thomson and newcomer Wright opened the bowling to Curry and McCallan. The former drove Wright uppishly to cover at seven. The ever calm Joyce joined McCallan and steady progress was made. Scotland switched their seam bowlers but 50 arrived in over 16. Then, at 61, Williamson, in his first over, had Joyce caught at the wicket - the result of poor foot movement. 61-2-13. Patterson joined McCallan and had most of the strike up to the tea interval after 27 overs. 84 for two, McCallan 37, Patterson 10.
After more seam bowling it was slow left armer Sheridan (the terror of Kuala Lumpur!) who got the next wicket. 100 had been raised in over 31, Nine overs later, in over 40, Patterson was bowled playing no shot. 117-3-31. Patterson had hit five fours. Benson lasted three balls. He swung and missed, head up, in the same over. Byrne made only seven. Then he and Cooke fell in successive overs to Sheridan at 129. 117 for two had become 129 for five and Sheridan had taken four wickets for six runs in 20 balls. Byrne was caught bat/pad at silly mid-off and Cooke chose the other side, bat/pad to short leg.
Rutherford stemmed the collapse. With a four off Thomson McCallan reached 52 out of 133 in 121 balls and three hours at the wicket. The seventh wicket pair added 34 in 17 careful overs. Then McCallan's long and valuable stint came to an end. He dragged a ball from newcomer, off-spinner Dyer, on to his wicket. His 65 (eight fours) from 167 balls in 230 minutes saved the innings and was the beginning of a prolific August. 163-7-65. Rutherford (17) and Molins (1) saw the day out at 165 for seven in 68 overs - slow going.
The second day's play was again held up for 40 minutes due to a damp outfield. Again it seemed needless. Molins was out to Wright at once, caught at third slip. Rutherford followed, six overs and five runs later, to the same bowler. He snicked a half hearted drive to the wicket-keeper. History followed. McCrum joined Davy (who was then two) and 100 runs were put on for the last wicket in 107 minutes straddling the lunch interval in 33 overs. This broke Ireland's best ever last wicket stand of 84 which had lasted since 1923. It was -v- Wales at Cardiff between WR King and W Sproule. The stand was unbroken and came to an end at 2.28 p.m. when Ireland declared as soon as Davy reached his 50.
It did seem that Ireland should have declared earlier due to the time already lost and the fact that the match was nearing the half way stage when the declaration came. Both Irish players played very well and no palpable chance was given. Scotland used five bowlers during the stand and took a new ball as soon as it was due after 100 overs. Davy hit seven fours in his 51 and McCrum four in his 44. Coming together at 170 in over 75 they had 200 up in over 87. Lunch came after 95 overs at 235, Davy 33, McCrum 31. 245 was up after 100 overs when Thomson and Wright took the new ball. 35 more were scored in eight overs up to the declaration after 108 overs. Sheridan (four for 36 in 27 overs) was only given three more overs in the final 20 and emerged with four for 43. Wright had 3 for 66. Davy's 51 came off 113 balls.
Scotland set out briskly and were intent on a declaration before the close which conceded a first innings lead. This kept the game open and was a sporting gesture. They batted for 47.1 overs, scored 189 for three, conceded an 81 run lead and closed the innings when the captain himself was third out.
Iain Philip had been dropped by Scotland so Patterson's opening partner was Lockhart. Davy was expensive, 16 in three overs, and was replaced by Cooke. McCallan dropped Patterson off McCrum at cover at 22. At 46, in over 13, McCrum had his revenge. Patterson was caught at the wicket and was, as usual, reluctant to go! 46-1-33. Allingham came next and made 13 in a 42 run stand. McCallan and Benson were tried before tea which came after 22 overs at 65, Lockhart 19, Allingham 6.
Cooke took the next wicket at 88 in the 29th over, Benson caught Allingham low at cover, a catch which needed Umpire confirmation. 88-2-13. Salmond arrived and the score was bustled along. Lockhart produced a flurry of boundaries off Cooke and Davy. 100 was up in over 32 and Lockhart reached 53 out of 117 in over 35, 150 was up after over 41. In six more overs 39 were scored, 20 to Salmond, 16 to Lockhart. The declaration came when Salmond was out playing a "declaration shot" off Benson and being bowled. He hit five fours in his 46 off only 45 balls. Lockhart was left 77 not out (nine fours) off 154 balls. The stand was 101 off 114 balls.
It should be pointed out that Molins could not bowl in the innings (back trouble) and Paul Mooney of The Hills fielded throughout.
Ireland had 22 minutes batting. Curry was in frenetic mood! After seven balls he eventually made proper contact and hit a two and four. He had been dropped at slip but was caught there next ball after his boundary hit. 6-1-6. Davy went in as night watchman. In six overs the score was 14, Davy one and McCallan seven.
On the last morning, a sunny day, Davy was out in the second over giving Thomson his second wicket. Davy played on, trying to withdraw his bat. McCallan and Joyce had a good stand of 59 in just over 17 overs. 50 was up in over 15. Scotland kept their faster bowlers going. McCallan was on the verge of another half century when he was out. He wafted at Stanger and was caught low at second slip. 78-3-47. McCallan hit six fours. Joyce and Patterson then went through a very slow period, only 16 runs in more than 10 overs. Then Patterson drove at Dyer and was caught low by extra cover moving right. 94-4-12. Benson came in to redeem his awful first innings. He did so by playing the most attractive innings of the match. Joyce was 24 when Benson arrived and the latter overtook him in the early 30's. He feasted on Dyer taking two fours and then a six and two fours in one over. 100 was up in over 37. Lunch came at 135 for four after 42 overs, Joyce 31, Benson 33.
Over 44 yielded 15 runs and 150 was up. Joyce had opened up and hit three fours just before he was out at 158 in over 45. Salmond dived to his left and took a fine low two handed catch at extra-cover. Byrne came in and saw Benson to his 50 in over 47 off only 41 balls.
Together the pair added 34 off 46 balls before a declaration at 192 for five after 52 overs. Benson hit a six and six fours in his unbeaten 61 which was full of good strokes. He was in for 66 minutes and faced 54 balls. Scotland were left 165 minutes plus 20 overs to score 274. A four minute each calculation of overs in 165 minutes gives 41 overs. This, plus 20 in the last hour, gives 61 overs and that is what it was. So the rate was 4½ runs per over.
Patterson and Lockhart went off at a good rate. 44 came in 13 overs from McCrum and Davy. Then Cooke replaced Davy. His first ball, a long hop, was cut to Joyce at cover by Lockhart, 44-1-19. Three runs later Ireland had another success. Paul Mooney was still fielding substitute, this time for Rutherford (groin strain and Patterson keeping wicket). Mooney picked up and ran out Allingham with a direct throw from midwicket to the non-striker's end. Allingham had been sent back by Patterson. 47-2-0.
Salmond came in to join Patterson and this stand seemed to be winning the match for Scotland. They came together at 47 in over 18. At tea, 21 overs, the score was 57, Patterson 18, Salmond 7. Molins, now fit, bowled a good spell. 100 was up in over 30. Patterson went to 51 out of 117 in over 34 and Salmond followed him to 50 in over 41. This 41st over was the last before the last hour. The score was 158, Patterson 68, Salmond 53 and 116 required - only two wickets down.
Benson then bowled five overs probably to keep Scotland going after the target (Ireland's only chance) and hoping to take a few wickets. He achieved both targets. His five overs cost 38 but he took two wickets. His second over conceded 10 runs. Patterson hit a six off the first ball of his third over. Two balls later Patterson was bowled, swinging again at a ball that kept low. 191-3-83. Patterson hit a six and eight fours off 128 balls. The 144 stand for this 3rd wicket equals a Scottish record for this wicket set in 1959. 15.3 overs were left to score 83.
In Benson's next over Williamson was caught by Cooke off a skier at deep mid-on. 197-4-5. Stanger was next. 200 arrived in over 49 (there were to be 61). At 221 in over 51 Stanger was run out, the second of three such. He set off for a run to cover, was sent back and failed to beat the throw. 221-5-8. Now 10 overs were left to score 53. With Salmond in Ireland still needed wickets. Salmond and Davies added 12 in two overs. Then came the vital wicket, that of Salmond. He hit McCallan to short fine leg where McCrum misfielded. McCrum recovered quickly. An accurate throw to bowler McCallan ran out Salmond who attempted a second run. 233-6-89. Salmond's 89 came with 10 fours off 110 balls. If he had survived just a little longer there is no doubt Scotland would have won. 7.5 overs remained and 41 runs were needed.
Three balls after Salmond, and in the same over, Wright was lbw trying to pull McCallan. 233-7-0. Then Molins took a wicket in the next over. Sheridan chipped to short mid-wicket. 236-8-0. Now, could Ireland win? 6.1 overs remained, 28 runs required, two wickets to fall. Davies and Thomson seemed to give up on trying for the 28 runs. They added 11 in 22 balls, Then, suddenly, the chase seemed to be on again but Davies skied to the wicket-keeper. 247-9-9. 15 balls were left but debutant Dyer survived nine from Molins and Thomson six from McCallan. Thomson gave a very wide leg side chance at the wicket in the second last over. Might not the pace of McCrum have been tried for the second last or last overs.
It was a splendid finish with honours even. The last decisive result to this match was in 1991 in Malahide.