Playing a match in the North-West area so early in the season proved to be a disaster. This was to have been a three-day match with an early finish on the third day to allow M.C.C. to get to Belfast Airport. Heavy rain on the previous day and on the morning of the match made play impossible on the first day. It was then decided to play two limited overs matches of 50 and 40 overs respectively on the second and third day. Even these matches could not go the distance. In this match Ireland lost by eight runs on a straight run rate. They should not have done so. The batsmen at the wicket must have seen the rain coming as also their mentors in the Pavilion. After 20 overs the rate required would have produced a win by .6 of a run. Only 3.3 overs more could be bowled and therein Ireland lost the match as off spinner Batty bowled two overs for no runs, one to each batsman. Four runs came off Lees but at 23.3 overs (when the rain did come) the score needed to be 81 (it was 73) to win on straight run rate. The Duckworth/Lewis system was not used but would still have given MCC a win.
For Ireland Dunlop and Joyce were not available and McCallan was given his first chance as captain. The replacements should have been P Mooney and AD Patterson, the other nine retaining their places after the Shropshire match. However Sussex required Patterson as batsman/wicket-keeper in a County match so Ireland brought in Ryan Haire for his first cap. A left hander, he was 19 years of age and son of Robin capped three times in 1986 in Zimbabwe.
MCC had five players who had played for them -v- Ireland in previous years. Gray and Sedgebeer in 1999; Lees in 1998, Williams in 1995 and Piggott in 1996. The latter also played twice for Surrey -v- Ireland, while Batty had played for both Yorkshire and Somerset -v- Ireland. Stephen Warke, former Irish Captain, also played for MCC for whom he was qualifying. S. Mohammed is son of Mushtaq of Pakistan fame and Wrigglesworth was a Young Victorian.
The day was cold and damp but at least there was a sunny start as M.C.C. won the toss and batted. Warke and Gray opened to Butler and Cooke. The ball seamed around a lot and the first 10 overs yielded 23 with a lot of playing and missing. Mooney replaced Butler for the 11th over and took a wicket with his third ball. Warke played on attempting a drive. 23-1-9. Sedgebeer came in but had not scored when the second wicket fell at 34 in the 14th over. Gray cut Cooke for four but was bowled pushing out at the next ball. 34-2-19. Sedgebeer was next to go in the 17th over. He faced 18 balls but had failed to score. A ball from Mooney lifted and Sedgebeer lobbed it to gully. Wrigglesworth joined Mohammed for what was the best stand of the innings - 43 runs. Mohammed cut very well and hit Mooney for a six. Dwyer (21st over) and Heasley (22nd over) came on. After the latter had bowled one ball (a wide) rain stopped play for 42 minutes at 71. On resumption nine came off that Heasley over but the bowler had his revenge in his second over when Wrigglesworth was bowled. 81-4-20. The aggressive Williams joined Mohammed. He scored 12 off 16 balls. In the 28th over he hit Heasley for two fours and, in the same over, nicked a yorker on to his stumps. 103-5-12.
Batty was next. He was dropped by Brophy (wicket-keeper) in Dwyer's eighth over at 124 but fell LBW to Dwyer in the latter's next over. 126-6-6. Scoring had slowed with Dwyer and McCallan bowling. Mohammed went to 50 off 68 balls in McCallan's fifth over. Two balls later Metson swept to deep square leg where debutante Haire took a good catch. 139-7-7. Piggott came next. Dwyer had finished (one for 21 in 10 overs) and Butler replaced him. In his first over he bowled three wides. In the middle of the 43rd over rain came again at 151-7. The delay was 90 minutes during which lunch was taken.
Resuming at 4.00 p.m. Butler had to complete an over and he bowled three more wides! McCallan's first ball after the break accounted for Piggott. He skied a full toss just in front of the wicket to be caught by Archer. 159-8-7. Lees joined Mohammed who had been starved of the strike facing only six balls since he got to fifty in over 40. Butler continued his sequence of wides. For the third over in succession (the 45th) he bowled three wides, but he got a wicket with the last ball he bowled in the innings. This was thanks to a splendid diving catch by Dwyer at mid-off from a drive by Lees. 166-9-0. Two overs later, in the 47th over, Mooney, who had replaced Butler, ended the innings when he took a good caught and bowled to his right to dismiss Kruis at 171. Mohammed was left 59 not out off 83 balls.
Mooney was the most successful bowler, three for 22 in 5.3 overs. The least expensive was, as usual, Dwyer, one for 22 in 10.
Brophy and Archer opened at 4.30 to the bowling of Kruis and Williams. After a maiden to Brophy Archer took a single off Williams and Brophy played no shot at the next ball which had him lbw. Davy chipped Kruis to gully in over three. Haire came in for his first innings in the critical situation of two for two. He played very well and dominated the strike. After 10 overs the score was 26 and Archer had faced only 11 balls. Piggott came on for the 13th over. Archer pulled him for six but played on four balls later. 37-3-17. Heasley was next. 27 were put on in five overs, Heasley made two of these and watched Haire hit Piggott for four boundaries. The 17th over saw 13 runs scored and Piggott retired after three overs for 29. Lees replaced Williams and had Heasley caught at slip in his second over. 64-4-2. Heasley had faced only six balls.
Gillespie came in after 17.1 overs. 6.2 overs were then bowled before rain finished the match. Of these 38 balls Gillespie faced 28 and scored eight runs. After being ahead (just) after 20 overs Ireland could only manage four runs in the remaining 21 balls which rain allowed. In five overs Haire only faced three balls but could not get a bat on off spinner Batty in the 23rd over which was a maiden. Haire's first innings extended to 68 balls and his 31 included four fours.
Gillespie was actually dropped at the wicket by Metson in the 20th over. McCallan, the Captain, would have come in and, maybe, he would have won the match?