Australia "A" came to Ireland following a similar two week visit to Scotland. This was part of the ICC development programme for Associate Members who had been identified as being possible candidates for International one-day status. The Australian Board and the ICC financed most of this visit other than match expenses. Steve Waugh, the great Australian Test batsman, now aged 33 came to play for Ireland in the matches agaisnt his own country. Again this was part of the development plan as had been the case with Hansie Cronje's visit in 1997. Again the Independent Newspapers Group sponsored Waugh's visit. Australia "A" brought 13 players coached by Allan Border. Six of them had played Test Cricket. Bichel, Dale, Gillespie, Hayden, Julian and Martyn. The captain Di Venuto and Young had played in one-day Internationals for Australia as had the six Test players.
The programme opened with a three-day first-class match at Rathmines. The visitors left out Bichel and Symonds. Ireland struggled to find a team, particularly in the pace bowling department. Davy, Eagleson and Heasley all called off with injuries. Neely and McCrum were unable to come in so Cooke (due to play in Sunday's one-day match), Mooney and new cap Mark Olphert of Bready were recruited. This was not a good start for a three-day match. The defeat was by 150 runs but it was really the batting that was at fault.
The first morning was gray and windy. The pitch was adequate, but no more, and slow in pace. It was agreed to bowl 96 overs in the day, to make up lost time for rain, and to have 7.30 p.m. as the latest finishing time. Australia "A" won the toss and began with two left handers, Hayden and Hussey. The latter, from Western Australia, became the backbone of the innings. He was still there, 125*, when the declaration came at 309 for six at 5.22 p.m. after 68 overs. The opening pair scored briskly agaisnt Cooke and Mooney - the latter bowling uphill into a stiff wind. Hayden hit four fours and 44 was up in 10 overs when Olphert was given the ball. His first ball in International cricket might well have taken a wicket (McCallan did so in Rathmines in 1996). Hayden square drove at it and Cooke failed to take an overhead catch at cover. McCallan came on for a long stint of off-spin. After 18 overs for 83 runs Dwyer replaced Olphert off whom Hayden had just hit a six. McCallan's fifth over was expensive. Hayden took 16 runs off it to hoist exactly 100 in 20 overs and bring his own score to 65.
The first wicket fell at 115 in the 25th over. Hayden (68) tried to leg glance Dwyer, missed, and was lbw. In came the Captain, Di Venuto. He did not last long. At 131 he pushed McCallan to mid-off and set off. McCallan moved rapidly to the ball, turned and ran out Di Venuto by a direct hit on the bowler's stumps. Martyn was next. He and Hussey were together at lunch (32 overs) at 136, Hussey 57, Martyn one. A good run rate was maintained after lunch with Joyce bowling a long spell with the wind and a rotation of bowlers into it. 150 came in over 35. Then Dwyer returned and took another wicket. Martin was caught by Bushe well wide on the leg side. 175-3-24.
Hussey hit three fours in Dwyer's next over. He was withdrawn in favour of McCallan who, at once, had Hills lbw offering no stroke. 197-4-5. The wicket-keeper, Campbell, was next. He saw Hussey to his century and the pair put on 89 in just 20 overs. 200 came in over 45. McCallan bowled on while Mooney and Waugh were tried down wind. Hussey went to 101 out of 232 in over 51. 250 was on the board after over 56. Dwyer was brought back and took a wicket just before tea. Campbell reached 53 with a boundary. Three balls later he rushed down the pitch and was stumped. 286-5-53. Campbell had faced 72 balls. Hussey hit Waugh for 10 in the last over before tea. In 65 overs Australia "A" were 296 for five at tea, Hussey 124 and Julian 0.
Rain delayed the resumption by 40 minutes. After three more overs Australia "A" declared at 309 for six but not before Dwyer took his fourth wicket. Julian played on at 302. The declaration probably came because more rain delayed play for a further 47 minutes. Hussey had faced 196 balls in 252 minutes and hit 18 fours. He had batted steadily and only had one quick scoring period which was immediately after lunch. The depleted Ireland attack used seven bowlers to bowl 68 overs. Dwyer only bowled 12 of these and took four for 51. McCallan bowled 20 overs (one for 69) and Joyce 10 (none for 49). It was Joyce's first bowl of the season.
When Molins and McCallan opened for Ireland 25 overs remained to be bowled. 23 were in fact bowled prior to the agreed 7.30 p.m. closure. By then Ireland were 94 for four - and that after 55 runs were up in 10 overs due to an onslaught on Gillespie and Dale by Molins and Smyth. McCallan was out at 11 in the third over, caught at third slip. In came Smyth who took 14 off Gillespie's third over including a wonderful six over extra cover. Then Molins joined in the fun and hit Dale's next over for four fours in five balls - a pull, off drive, straight drive and off dab. The pace slowed and eventually, in his 6th over, Dale had his revenge on Molins. He bowled him with a ball that kept low. 60-2-33. Molins had hit six fours. Waugh came in but lost Smyth almost at once. Julian (fast left arm) came on for Gillespie (down wind). Smyth hit a four but snicked the next ball to the wicket-keeper. 64-3-24. Waugh was dropped at the wicket off Dale. However the latter accounted for Dunlop who was beaten on the back foot for pace and was bowled. 74-4-4. Mooney saw out the day with Waugh who was 22 not out from 30 balls (four fours) at close of play, 94 for 4 with Mooney 2*.
The second day was much warmer and less windy. Dale and Gillespie resumed the bowling. Waugh and Mooney had 100 up in the second over of the day. They continued until the score was 110, a stand of 36. Then six wickets fell for only 22 runs and Ireland were all out for 132 in less than 40 overs. Dale took four of these six wickets and finished with six for 43 in 18.5 overs - all of them up the hill and into the wind. He made the ball move off the seam either way at a very brisk pace. Mooney was lbw on the front foot at 110. Then. in Gillespie's second over of the day, he moved a ball away from Waugh and had him caught at the wicket for 31. Joyce was dropped at second slip and caught there next ball when he waved his bat at a leg side ball. Dale took the last three wickets in 14 balls. Olphert, in his first International innings, was lbw for nought trying to turn a straight ball to leg. Cooke met a similar fate. Dwyer, in his sixth innings for Ireland, was out for the first time. He pushed Dale's slower ball to short square leg.
Australia "A" did not enforce the follow-on. A new opening pair, the left handed Hills and Campbell, started the innings at 1.03 p.m. This time Mooney bowled with the wind behind him. He had Campbell lbw in his second over. Di Venuto (7) kept Hills (9) company until lunch - 23 for 1 in six overs. Mooney struck again in his 6th over when Di Venuto was caught on the leg side by Bushe. 32-2-11.
Martyn joined Hills. 50 came in over 15. Cooke returned for Mooney (two for 32 in nine overs) down wind and, at 67, saw Bushe take a fine low catch to his left to dismiss Hills. 67-3-19. Julian joined Martyn. The former was nearly out at 77 when McCallan at mid-on made two fine efforts at an overhead catch. Ten runs later Cooke bowled Martyn for 43 with the batsman playing no stroke. Young came next and at 90 he saw Julian get another life when Joyce failed to take an overhead catch off Cooke's bowling.100 was up in over 30. Davy was at last given a bowl at 129. It was the 34th over and it cost 10 runs scored by Julian.
Tea was taken after 36 overs at 135 for four, Julian 35, Young 15. In the second over after tea Young was caught at gully off Dwyer after a stand of 50. Dale came in and Julian gave yet another chance at 146. He hit Dwyer to long-on. Olphert dropped the catch. 150 came up in over 42. Julian reached 50 in over 44 and celebrated with a six off Dwyer. The declaration came after 47 overs at 169 for five. Julian was 60 with a six and seven fours off 72 balls. The Australia "A" lead was 346 and 26 overs remained to be bowled to-day plus 96 tomorrow. The rate required was less than three per over. Mooney and Cooke had taken two wickets each. Dwyer had bowled only seven overs out of 47. This was strange after his four wickets in the first innings.
Miller, this time, was Gillespie's opening partner and was having his first bowl of the match. His first ball was straight, Molins tried to turn it to leg and was lbw. Smyth joined McCallan and the score was pushed along at the required rate. Julian replaced Gillespie and Smyth greeted the new bowler with successive fours which put up 50 in the 13th over. However, in Julian's third over, McCallan played back casually and was caught at the wicket. 66-2-22. Waugh came in and watched Smyth hit three successive fours off slow left armer Young - a sweep, a straight drive off his back foot and a cover drive. The last ball of the over was popped up to short leg. Australia 'A' appealed but Umpire Keegan said "not out" as he could not see with the declining sun. One more over was bowled from the Rathmines end. Then, because of the sun, play was called off with five overs to be bowled. Ireland were 92 for two, Smyth 43, Waugh 8.
255 were required on the third day in 96 overs. The day was fine and sunny. Dale and Gillespie were the bowlers,. If the runs were to be scored it had to be done by Waugh, one of the world's leading batsmen and Smyth, currently Ireland's best batsman. It was not to be. Waugh took 11 off Gillespie's first over and put 100 up. Then Dale bowled to Smyth. His first ball was snicked to the wicket- keeper by Smyth. Australia "A" appealed and Umpire Keegan gave Smyth out. Australia "A" then withdrew the appeal saying the ball had not carried. Next ball Smyth was caught at second slip. 102-3-43. Dunlop stayed with Waugh for nine overs in a stand of 20. Then Dun1op, for the second time in the match, was back when he should have been forward and was lbw to Gillespie for 10.
Joyce was Waugh's next partner.They stayed together for 11 overs and put on 41, with Waugh now beginning to score freely. Julian came on and, in his fourth over, he finally ended Ireland's hopes. Waugh played back and snicked low to the wicket-keeper. He had made 45 off 72 balls and hit six fours. Joyce fell in Young's second over or the day. Bowlers' marks outside the left hander's off stump made it difficult for Joyce who was caught at silly point off bat and pad. 167-6-15. Olphert at least got off the mark but was caught at second slip at 174. Cooke and Mooney, both seven, were not out at lunch at 182 for seven. This pair took the score to 191 when Mooney was caught and bowled by Young off a leading edge. At 193 Cooke took off for a run which was not possible. Bushe sent him back but he had no chance. At this point a minute's silence was observed in memory of those who died in the bomb outrage at Omagh exactly one week before. When play resumed Bushe soon pushed a catch off Miller, now bowling off-breaks, and the match finished at 2.44 p.m. All five bowlers took at least one wicket - Julian three for 49.