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Match Report
Derek Scott

The 1998 season began in Clontarf in glorious sunshine on May Day. Dublin had had a wet period and the match could not have been played two days before the scheduled date. Glamorgan were the visitors for the last playing of the Benson & Hedges Cup. It marked a return visit for the match played at Margam in Wales in 1953.

For the first three Benson & Hedges matches Ireland selected a squad of 13. These included two newcomers. One was Neil Johnson, a 28 year old from Natal in South Africa who had joined Sion Mills as a professional. He had a good all round record for Natal and had played for South Africa "A". He replaced Hansie Cronje as the one allowed unqualified player. The second was Matt Dwyer, the Hills slow left am bowler, getting his first cap in his 40th year. He had won the O'Grady bowling cup in Leinster five times. Owen Butler had returned to the squad but injured himself in practice. For the two away Benson & Hedges matches he was replaced by Gary Neely.

Only six of the team -v- Glamorgan had played in the last match of 1997 at Lord's. They were Molins (J.), Patterson (A.), Joyce, McCallan, Heasley and McCrum. The Captain at Lord's, Benson, had retired to take a groundsman's job at Leicester. Davy (J.) was in the squad -v- Glamorgan but did not play in any B. &. H. Match. Lewis had by now retired. Curry, Smyth and Gillespie were not considered due to insufficient attendance at the Spring indoor nets. G. Molins was studying and Doak's rugby job prevented his playing. Angus Dunlop, dropped in mid-1997, was not only restored but was made captain. Eagleson and G. Cooke were also brought back. Mark Patterson was still contracted to Surrey. The squad had spent a week-end at Old Trafford for indoor and outdoor practice. Glamorgan had their best team. Hugh Morris had retired but Maynard and Watkin were former England Test players while Croft was England's current off spinner. Waqar Younis had taken over 200 wickets for Pakistan.

The sun shone but conditions were still damp when Glamorgan won the toss and batted. McCrum (8) and Eagleson (7) bowled 15 overs between them to James and Croft. The latter was used, very successfully, by Glamorgan in the "pinch hitting" role when only two out fielders were allowed in the first 15 overs. This was one of Croft's success days. He had two fours and a six - off McCrum with a pick up shot to the pavilion roof - to his name after five overs. Eight overs saw 47 up. Then McCrum took his 100th wicket. He bowled James with a ball that cut away and kept a little low. 48-1-13. McCrum is the 12th Irish bowler to take 100 wickets and the first since Harrison did so in 1993.

Dale came next for Glamorgan. 50 was up in the ninth over. Eagleson was unlucky when Croft gave short extra cover a catch off a no-ball at 60. Indeed the opening bowlers bowled nine wides and two no-balls between them. McCrum was also unlucky. In his eighth and, as it turned out, last over Dale (8) was dropped at the wicket. This escape cost 20 runs and it was Dwyer, in his third over of International cricket, who took the next wicket. Dale drove hard and fast to square cover where Molins held on. 95-2-11. In the same over Croft gave Dwyer a very difficult catch to his right which he touched but could not hold. Croft had just reached his 50 and it was the 21st over.

Maynard saw the 100 up in over 22. Heasley had by now come on and had Maynard lbw hitting across on the front foot. 115-3-10. Cottey began aggressively and indeed Croft got very little strike for quite a prolonged period. Having reached 50 out of 94 he had got to 67 out of 150 when he was out. Johnson had come on for his first bowl, medium paced "doffers", and got a wicket with the sixth ball of his first over. Croft was bowled by a ball which kept a little low. 150-4-67. Three more wickets fell quickly and at 178 for seven, an Irish target of 200 looked possible.

Dwyer, with the third ball of his last over, bowled Butcher around his legs as he tried to sweep. 161-5-2. Dwyer bowled his 10 overs for 40 and, so good was his length, a lot of sweep shots were attempted. Next came a run out. Shaw hit Johnson to Eagleson at mid-on, called a bad run and was easily run out by a throw to the bowler. 169-6-2. 40 overs saw 177 up. Cooke had come on for the first time. In his third over, the 41st, Thomas hiked him to mid-wicket. 178-7-3. Younis joined Cottey. Dwyer made a great attempt to catch Younis at mid-on at 183 off Cooke. 200 and Cottey's 50 came in over 46. Then Younis took 12 off a Cooke over. Cottey eventually fell in the 49th over. 226-8-54. In the last over Younis, who got an important 33 in 28 balls, also fell at deep square leg. It gave Molins his third catch. 230 was the final tally with 23 of these coming in no-balls and wides. The Irish fielding and throwing was excellent as was the bowling of Dwyer, Johnson and Cooke.

It was just after 3.00 p.m. when Mo1ins and Eagleson (a surprise choice) began the chase for Ireland. Younis and Watkin were the bowlers. It can be said at once that there was only one stand of substance in Ireland's score of 115 (exactly one half of Glamorgan's score). This was a stand of 54 for the fifth wicket. Before that Molins was dropped at slip in the first over. Eagleson was lbw in the second over playing across. In five overs Molins and Patterson put on 22. Then Patterson played on to a wide ball with no foot movement and with no increase in the score Molins was run out. He hit Watkin fast to cover, called a bad run and could not get back when Johnson (just in) rightly refused. One over later Johnson was lbw on the front foot to Younis. 32-4-4.

Joyce and Dunlop slowly retrieved the situation. 50 was up in over 17. Cosker, slow left arm, came on for over 20 and Croft, off spin, for over 21. Dunlop saw Watkin off with two successive sixes in over 19. At 86, Dunlop (26) tried to pull Croft but was lbw when the ball kept low. Joyce, 28 and playing very well, lost patience with Cosker in over 30 and was stumped at 94. A similar fate befell McCallan in Croft's next over. Heasley raised the 100 in over 34. He was out at 105 caught at deep square leg.

Dale came on for over 40 and took the last two wickets in his three overs. McCrum was caught, two handed, by the sole slip diving to his right at full stretch. Cooke hit a boundary but was caught at the wicket nibbling at the last ball of the same over - the 44th.

All was over before 6.00 p.m. and Croft was named Man-of-the-Match. Glamorgan used seven bowlers. Five of them took wickets. Croft's two for 16 in 10 overs was best. A very big crowd attended this match played on a Friday. A good percentage of the crowd were Glamorgan followers over for the day.