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Match Report
Derek Scott

The final match for 1998 was at Beechgrove in Derry The pitch was damp and suited the spinners on both sides, particularly Young for Australia 'A' and Dwyer and McCallan for Ireland. The result, a four wicket win for Australia 'A', was somewhat flattering to Ireland. The visitors held back batsmen, Hussey, Di Venuto and Martyn to numbers eight, nine and ten. As a consequence they found themselves 79 for six chasing 129. No more wickets fell as Julian and Hussey required only seven more overs to hit off the runs.

Australia "A" left out Gillespie and Campbell. For Ireland Carson (now available again) came in for Heasley (not available). Ireland won the toss and McCallan and Carson started slowly against Bichel and Dale. Then, in the fifth over, McCallan had a wild head-up swing at Bichel and was bowled middle stump. 12-1-4. This was the last ball of the over and worse followed with Bichel's next ball, the first of the seventh over, Smyth misjudged the line of the first ball he faced and he, too, was bowled middle stump.

Waugh survived the hat trick. He and Carson settled down to retrieve the innings on the slow low pitch on which it was difficult to get the ball away. 10 overs saw 27 on the board and 46 was up after 20. Bichel got hands to a caught and bowled chance offered by Carson (11) at 35 but he could not hold on. Julian and Symonds came on for the 13th and 16th overs. Waugh was caught at mid-off off a Julian no-ball at 38. 50 was up in over 23 and 58 at the 25 over mark. However, in this over, Carson was out after a patient 15 in no less than 72 balls.

Young had replaced Julian. His first ball drifted away from the left handed Carson and spun back to bowl him. In Young's second over Gillespie, with no foot movement, was caught by wicket-keeper Hussey. 61-4-2. Miller (off spin) now came on for an all spin attack, and they bowled 17 overs in tandem. Waugh hit Young for a six over square leg in the 29th over. This was the 59th ball he faced and brought his score to 28 - reflecting the problem of the pitch.

Dunlop resisted with Waugh and brought the score to 87. Then both were out in successive Young overs, the 35th and 37th. Dunlop pushed tamely to mid-wicket when he should have gone through with the shot. Waugh, looking for a six, was caught on the mid-wicket boundary for 36 off 75 baIls. Young now had four for 16. Joyce swept Young for four in the same over. He, with Cooke, brought up 100 in the 42nd over. Young had now bowled his 10 overs (four for 25) and Symonds (off spin) replaced him. The seventh wicket pair added 31 in 12 overs but these were overs 38 to 49. In that 49th over Joyce was out for 20 off 45 balls. Young took a great catch at mid-on, diving to his right low and two handed. Davy snicked a four and got six off five balls.

In the last over (Dale) Davy moved outside the off stump to play to leg and missed. All six Australia 'A' bowlers had good figures, be they fast or slow. Only Young and Miller (22 runs) bowled 10 overs but Bichel had two for 12 in six and Symonds one for 16 in nine.

Australia "A", knowing the problems of the pitch, struck out from the start against Davy and Cooke. These two were only allowed seven overs between them but each was hit for three fours by Hills and Hayden. After five overs the score was 26. McCallan came on for Cooke to bowl the sixth over. He, too, was hit for two fours by Hayden. Hayden advanced to the last ball, missed and was bowled. 32-1-16. Dwyer came on at 45 for the 11th over. His first ball was hit for three by Hills but Symonds drove the third ball high to Dunlop at wide long-on who moved to his right for a good catch. The score was 45 and at this point two more wickets fell at that score and another, the fifth, at 47. Dwyer took three of these wickets in 20 balls and McCallan the other. The score stayed on 45 for four overs and on 47 for the next two.

Hills (26) was out to the last ball of McCallan's fourth over. He mis-drove to very short extra cover (Dunlop) who caught the overhead catch at the second attempt. Two balls later Dwyer saw Young drive to Davy at mid-off. For some strange reason Cooke now replaced McCallan (two for ten in five overs). Dwyer's fourth over accounted for Dale. To the last ball Dale went down the wicket, head up, to a flighted ball. He missed and was bowled. Dwyer now had three for three in four overs. Julian had defended all the while and did not score until his 14th ball. Joined by Bichel they nursed the score along and Julian began to strike Cooke for boundaries. In six overs 32 were added. The folly of taking McCallan off was exposed when he returned for the 24th over and bowled Bichel (7) in his first over. Now came a recognised batsman, Hussey, to join Julian and Ireland's success was over. Hussey swept his first ball for four and Julian cover drove McCallan for two fours in his next over. In two overs 16 were scored, seven coming in Dwyer's ninth over after which he came off with three for 19.

100 came up in over 28 in which Hussey had a lucky escape off McCallan. His snick was just wide of slip. Cooke came on for Dwyer. Julian hit McCallan for a three and then a straight four and another square of cover. The over cost 13. The next Cooke over cost 10 and gave Julian his 50. Four leg byes finished the match in over 31. Julian was 53 at the end off only 61 balls with nine fours. In all Australia "A" hit 20 fours, twice as many as Ireland.

So ended the season of 22 matches which would have been 27 if rain had not prevented a ball being bowled in five of the scheduled games. 24 players were used. Three played in only one match and eight more in six or less matches.

Only McCallan played in all the matches and scored 385 runs at 16.04 and took 30 wickets at 27.90. Cooke played in 20 matches, Dunlop and Smyth in 19, Gillespie in 18, Dwyer and Joyce in 17 each. The batting stars were Smyth with 703 runs (at 37.00) and Dunlop 558 runs (at 39.85). At the age of 39 Dwyer was the great "find" of the season. His 31 wickets at 19.19 each in 157 overs are figures not achieved by an Irish bowler talking over 30 wickets in a season since 1973 when in four matches (two innings games) Monteith took 46 wickets at an incredible 5.67 each. Of the 22 matches played four were won, 15 lost and three drawn.

Beechgrove, Londonderry