The sixth playing of the Triple Crown began for Ireland in Greenock, a venue not visited since the three-day match in 1972. Apart from the first Triple Crown match of all in 1993 the result was the same - a win for Scotland. The pitch was slow and difficult after a great deal of rain. It looked firm but was soft underneath, a bowler's wicket.
The day was fine with a breeze blowing. 13 players were allowed. There were no surprises in the selection. Then Rutherford cried off and in came Jonathan Bushe, 19 years of age and son of Eddie. They were the first father and son wicket-keepers to play for Ireland. J. Davy and McCrum were left out of the match.
Scotland had injury problems. Philip had been dropped and Butt and Brinkley had not played against Ireland previously. Scotland won the toss and batted. Patterson and Lockie opened and the former held the innings together. He made 79 from 137 balls and was seventh out at 141. He, very rightly, was named Man-of-the-Match.
Cooke and Eagleson opened the bowling. Six came off two overs at which point Lockie retired with a groin strain. Smith joined Patterson but was bowled by Eagleson off his pad in the sixth over. 19-1-7. In the next over (Cooke) the slow pitch undid Salmond. Forcing off his legs he lifted the ball to short mid-wicket where Carson caught a good catch low to his left. 22-2-0. McCallan came on for the 11th over and bowled his 10 overs in a row giving away only 17 runs.
Parsons helped Patterson to add 26. After the 15 overs of fielding restrictions the score was 39. Heasley came on for over 16 and bowled Parsons (9) at 48. A low full toss removed the off stump. With Stanger in 50 came up in over 22. Dwyer appeared for over 24 and changed ends after three overs. The fourth wicket pair, Patterson and Stanger, scored quite briskly - a stand of 57 in 51 minutes. Patterson reached 50 out of 90 in over 32. Then, in over 35, Dwyer took two wickets. Stanger (23) lofted a ball off his legs high to mid-wicket which Cooke caught over his shoulder running back. Four balls later Brinkley hit another high ball to long-off where Dunlop held on to it while back pedalling. In his next over Dwyer spun one away from Wright who gave Bushe his first wicket-keeping victim. 109 for six in the 37th over.
Davies joined Patterson in what turned out to be a very vital 32 run stand for the seventh wicket. It lasted into the 46th over which was bowled by Cooke. He took two wickets with successive balls. Patterson pushed forward too soon and was caught and bowled. His 79 came in 131 balls with seven fours. Butt was lbw to his first ball, half forward. Four overs to go when Tennant joined Davies. Six runs came in two overs. Then Eagleson had Davies caught at extra cover off the first ball of the 49th over. Out came Lockie with a runner. Tennant took a single. Then Lockie was dropped by Bushe - a simple catch while standing back. This miss cost the match which is a harsh comment to make about a young wicket-keeper making his debut. The score was 148 and Scotland scored 12 more runs and ultimately won the match by nine runs. There would also have been the psychological. advantage of setting out to score less than 150 to win.
The fielding and throwing were of a high order and wides were reduced to four. Dwyer's three for 29 was the best analysis but McCallan and Eagleson also bowled very accurately.
Ireland did not start well, losing three wickets for 19. Then came two long stands which carried the score to 127 for four at one point in the 42nd over. Eight overs were left to get 34 with six wickets in hand. A collapse followed, six wickets falling for 24 runs.
Butt, left arm, bowled Carson in his second over at five. Brinkley had McCallan palpably lbw in his fourth over and Joyce played on to a yorker in his fifth. Smyth and Gillespie now retrieved the situation - putting on 60 in 18 overs.
Scotland's opening bowlers bowled well with nothing short. The next pair, Wright and Stanger, were quite expensive. 50 was up in over 20. Gillespie hit Wright for two fours and Smyth hit Stanger for a straight six - the only six of the match. Tennant, slow left arm, came on for the 23rd over at 62. Gillespie gave mid-wicket a half chance at 74. Then Smyth was out in Tennant's third over at 79. Wright caught a superb catch at wide long on. He was moving backwards and had to jump. Dunlop came next to support Gillespie. Scoring was slow but 100 was up in over 35. Stanger came back and bowled much better. Gillespie with an off drive for four reached 50 in over 41 - an over which yielded 11 runs. Now it was 36 in nine overs with six wickets in hand.
All seemed safe. Then Gillespie was caught at the wicket off the last ball of the 42nd over off which only one run had come. 127-5-59. Heasley scored three and was bowled by Stanger at 144. He played on cutting at a long hop. Dunlop hit a four in over 46 which brought seven runs in all. In over 47 Eagleson slashed a high catch to the off side boundary fielder. 144-7-2. Now 21 balls were left to get 17.
Dunlop hit a good straight two off the first ball of Brinkley's next over, the 48th. This made the score 147 with 17 balls to go. Then, to the next ball, Dunlop played an awful cross bat swipe and was bowled. This was a dreadful error of judgement.
With three runs added Bushe drove a catch to deep extra cover at 150 in over 49 and in the last over Cooke was lbw sweeping. Ireland were 10 runs short of victory. Stanger had taken three for 20 in his last five overs.
It was a great opportunity lost and a seventh successive defeat by Scotland in a cap match of the limited overs type.
Dunlop now had 2047 runs and had gone up to eighth in the list of 2000 runs scorers. He had gone above O'Riordan (2018) and Rea (2044).