This was Ireland's first ever match -v- Essex which was the 18th and last first-class county to play v- Ireland. The match was three days after the Glamorgan match in Dublin. The day began sunny but by evening had clouded over.
The fast pitch was in contrast to Castle Avenue. Ireland's weak bowling suffered. Essex were 59 in 10 overs, 120 in 20 and 174 in 30 all with only one wicket down. By over 40, two wickets were down for 264. By over 45 it was 324 for four. Then four more wickets fell in 15 balls before the 50 overs closure at 359.
The Essex team included SG Law the Australian Test player and Hussein (current), Irani, Ilott, Such and Williams all of whom played at some time for England. AP Cowan, a young fast bowler, had been with England in West Indies in the winter but had yet to be capped. Opening bat, Robinson, had already made two limited overs match centuries in 1998 and was to add a third in this match.
Ireland had Neely in the party of 13. He was selected ahead of Cooke and Davy despite the two latter being selected in the original party as quick bowlers. Neely's three overs, at first change, cost 32 runs.
A very big crowd saw Robinson and Law open to the bowling of McCrum and Eagleson. Eagleson proved to be easily Ireland's best bowler on the day. His spell of 10 overs straight from the start cost only 36 runs with only one wide and the wicket of Law. McCrum bowled the first over which included three boundaries, a No-ball and a wide - 16 in all. His four over stint went for 31 and was followed by Neely's three overs for 32. In the 14th over, at 86, Law snicked Eag1eson to Patterson. His 46 came in 45 balls. 100 went up in over 16. Heasley had one over for nine and even Dwyer could not stem the flow. Robinson reached 50 out of 110 in over 17 and he had already hit eight fours. Overs 20 to 30, mostly Dwyer and Johnson, were relatively inexpensive (54 runs). Then Hussain began to attack. A flurry of fours and two sixes off McCallan took him to 53 (49 balls) at 190 in over 32. A few more blows took Hussain to 71. Then, after 28 in three overs by McCallan, Heasley reappeared and had Hussain caught at third man in over 36. 219-2-71. The next ball might have seen Robinson's dismissal. A direct hit on the stumps by McCallan would have accounted for him. Two overs later he reached 100 out of 242 in 112 balls. Irani was then nine. By the time Robinson was out for 114 in over 45 Irani had reached 52 in only 31 balls. In successive overs from Johnson he hit three sixes and two fours, the unfortunate Johnson yielding 62 runs in his seven overs.
After a stand of 97 off only 55 balls Robinson departed for 114. Once again it was the reappearance of Heasley that got the wicket. Robinson was caught at extra cover in the 45th over at 316. He faced 129 balls and hit a six and 13 fours. Grayson joined Irani and 36 more were put on in 28 balls. Then came some Irish consolation. Bowling the 49th over Heasley had Grayson caught at cover. 352-4-16. The 50th over, by McCrum, saw three more wickets go down. The first ball accounted for Rollins, stumped as he advanced head up. 355-5-1. The third ball brought Irani's dismissal slashing to the wicket-keeper. 356-6-69. Irani faced only 45 balls with three sixes and six fours. This was the highest score -v- Ireland in the Benson & Hedges Cup exceeding by 10 Somerset's score at Taunton in 1996. There were six sixes and 32 fours in the innings.
As stated earlier Eagleson was the best bowler. Heasley gave up 77 runs in seven overs but kept popping up to take a wicket - three in all. Considering the carnage the fielding kept up reasonably well.
Faced with more than seven runs an over in order to win it was difficult to know what the Irish batsmen should do. They settled for a respectable total! Molins had his own solution making nine runs from 51 balls. He lost McCallan (19 with two fours) at 33 his leg stump uprooted as he played to leg. At 39 Molins slashed Irani to gully.
Johnson joined Patterson in a stand of 24. Then off spinner Such, in his first over, the 22nd, had Patterson lobbing to the wicket-keeper trying to sweep.There followed two stands of over 50 both involving the youthful, calm, phlegmatic Joyce. Johnson had begun well with three fours. He then took a liking to Irani and 18 were scored in the 25th over with 4-6-4 to Johnson. 100 came up in over 28 and Johnson went to a well played 50 in the next over in only 41 balls with a six and seven fours included. Three overs later Johnson was out in Grayson's third over. He was bowled playing forward. 115-4-53.
Dunlop joined Joyce and exactly 50 were scored for the fifth wicket in just over 12 overs. Grayson and Such bowled most of these and only one boundary was scored. 150 was up in over 40. Then Grayson changed ends and saw Joyce lose patience in over 44. He was bowled swinging wildly for 42 in 57 balls, despite only one four.
Two more wickets fell before the end. Heasley closed the face of the bat and was caught at wide slip. Ilott had returned and Dunlop also lost patience and slashed to the wicket-keeper. His 24 took 55 balls, also with one four. Eagleson collected 15 in 17 balls and was not out. 188 for seven was a reasonable response. Only Such for 39 runs and Grayson for 38 runs bowled a full 10 over stint for Essex. Cowan's six overs yielded only nine runs and Ilott bowled nine overs for 26.
Robinson was named Man-of-the-Match.