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Match Report
Derek Scott

A wondrous win which will enter the legends of Irish cricket in future ages. But it was not a legend; it was a fact.

The Irish team contained four foreign born players for the first time ever. Bray and Botha had qualified previously by residence and were now deemed Irish. G Dros had played in the first round at Hertfordshire in 2003 as an unqualified player while a professional at Cliftonville. A native of South Africa, he had not returned for 2004. However he agreed to travel specially for the match by virtue of a free ticket from his girl friend, a South African Air Hostess. The fourth foreigner was Trent Johnston, an Australian, who had played as a professional for Carlisle and Leinster. In 2004 he returned to play for Clontarf. He now had an Irish passport but could not be cleared in time by ICC to play in the match as "Irish". So he played as the allowed second non-qualified player.

The team showed four changes from the last match of 2003 -v- Denmark. O'Brien (Kent) and McCoubrey (Essex) were back with their counties and were replaced by Bushe and Johnston. CM Armstrong was replaced by Dros. PG Gillespie had been injured and unable to play -v- Denmark and he replaced DI Joyce. PJK Mooney had also been unable to play -v- Denmark due to injury. He contracted an early season injury and was not considered nor was RT Coetzee who had said he could not travel to Holland later in the season for a three-day match and the European Cup. JF Mooney was 12th man.

In recent years Surrey were a force to be reckoned with in English Cricket. They were County Champions in 1999, 2000 and 2002, the latter being their 18th such win only second to Yorkshire's 30. Further it brought Ireland's wins in a row to 10. In 2003 Surrey had won the National League (45 overs) and the new 20 overs Competition. In their team for Dublin they had five English Test Match cricketers - Ramprakash, Hollioake, Salisbury, Ormond and Bicknell. The latter last appeared in 2003. Brown was an English one-day International. The two non-qualified players allowed in this competition were both Pakistani Test players, Azhar Mahmood (1997-2001) and a current Test player, Saqlain Mushtaq who has 200 Test wickets. It must be said however that two current Test batsmen, Thorpe and Butcher, were not allowed to play by ECB contract.

Despite this array of stars Ireland chased 262 and won, with 10 balls and five wickets to spare and despite needing a run a ball from 15 overs out. A number of phases of this match can be highlighted wherein lay Ireland's win. The first was the removal of Brown (67 off 49 balls) at 91 by means of a marvellous catch by Morgan at long on in the 18th over. Nine catches (most of them very good) and a stumping accounted for Surrey's dismissal. Their 155 for three in 30 overs looked all over a score of 300 plus. After 40 overs this was still on at 217 for five but was now less likely. McCallan and White had taken a wicket each and went on to take five between them. With McCallan finished Botha came back and took the last three wickets in three overs for nine runs. So the last 10 overs saw Surrey lose five wickets for only 44 runs - a massive turning point.

The next phase leading to the Irish win was when Molins (he gave a difficult chance when 16) and Bray put Surrey's opening bowlers, Bicknell and Ormond to the sword taking 77 runs off their 12 overs and scored 103 in all in 20.3 overs. Then Dros scored 45 off 53 balls and Gillespie 28 off 31. The fifth wicket fell at 223 with 39 needed off 43 balls. McCallan joined White who had faced just four balls. For many the next 33 balls were the best feature of Ireland's win. These two young Irishmen saw the match out in fine style against the pace bowlers. They hit five fours in the process and White plundered 13 runs off the 47th over (Ormond) to leave two runs in two overs to be scored.

Despite a very wet Tuesday the match started in time but the first day's play ended with Surrey's innings. There had been four interruptions amounting to 176 minutes. More rain prevented a restart (there could be play until 8 p.m.) after Surrey were all out at 4.37 p.m.

Great efforts by the groundstaff got the game started on time. Surrey captain Batty (he took over from Hollioake) and Brown opened. New cap Johnston bowled the first over, a maiden to Batty. Brown in 2002 -v- Glamorgan at the Oval had made 268 in a 45 over National League match. He set to on Eagleson and hit 6-4-6 off successive balls followed by two more sixes in Eagleson's second over. Despite a slow damp pitch 42 were put up in 6 overs. Then came a wicket to Johnston in his fourth over. Batty played a defensive shot to a ball that lifted and moved away from him to be caught by Bushe. 42-1-8. Ramprakash arrived and the pace slowed a little but 50 was up in the 10th over. Just before this Brown gave a hard rising chance to Bray at short extra cover.

After 11 overs rain caused a 20 minute delay. On resumption the opening bowlers continued. Ramprakash pulled and on drove fours. Botha replaced Johnston (one for 24 in seven overs) and Brown pulled a long hop for 6 to reach 51 out of 76 off 36 balls in over 15 which cost, in all, 13 runs. In Botha's next over Brown hit another six - a cross batted shot over long-off. Next over he was out. Dros replaced Eagleson. Off his fifth ball Brown hit to long-on. Morgan ran in, dived, and took a magnificent two-handed catch. 97-2-67. Brown's 49 ball innings had four sixes and six fours.

Hollioake joined Ramprakash and 100 was up in over 19. Hollioake scored much faster than Ramprakash. Within four overs he had hit two fours and then a six over square leg off Dros. Two more fours off Dros followed in the 24th over. The half-way score was 137, Ramprakash 30, Hollioake 27. McCallan came on for Dros for the 26th over after which there was a 35 minute rain break. In his next over after the resumption McCallan held on to a good catch and bowl chance to his right to dismiss Ramprakash. 145-3-34. Since hitting a four in the 13th over (his second four of two) Ramprakash hit one two and all the rest singles before his dismissal in over 28. Benning was lucky not to be bowled first ball when McCallan's off-spin beat him. White came on for Botha. Benning hit McCallan for a straight six in over 50 to bring up 150. Only 19 were scored in the next four overs but Benning hit White for a six over mid-off and over 38 gave up nine. Over 39 (McCallan) was worse. 12 came off it but also a wicket. Hollioake hit the first three balls for 6-4-1. The four took him to 51 off 56 balls. Off the fifth ball of this over he tried to chop a ball that was too near him. He missed and Bushe brought off a lightening stumping. 194-4-52. Azhar Mahmood was next but Benning was out in White's next over with the 194 score unchanged. It was a good catch by Johnston running in from the mid-wicket boundary. 194-5-27. This was the last ball before a 95 minute rain break during which lunch was taken.

After the next resumption Nadeem Shahid partnered Mahmood. White and McCallan continued to bowl. 200 was up in over 38. This stand put on 24 in 28 balls before White struck again. Mahmood lofted a ball into Bray's chest at long-on. 218-6-13. Salisbury, an ex England leg spinner, came in but lasted only two overs before White took his third successive wicket in the space of 24 balls bowled by him. White took an easy catch and bowl to dismiss Salisbury. 228-7-4. Bicknell joined Shahid and saw off McCallan's last over. (10-1-51-2). Botha replaced McCallan for over 46. This over cost five but then Botha took three wickets for two runs in nine balls to end the Surrey innings one ball short of the 50 overs. First, at 248, Shahid took one step towards the ball and hit it, cross batted, to Johnston on the extra cover boundary. 248-8-27. Bicknell hit Johnston for two fours in the 49th over which conceded 11 runs and brought up 250. Before the last over could be bowled there was a 26 minute rain break. Then came Botha again for the 50th over. His first ball accounted for Saqlain Mushtaq. It was a very good low catch and bowl. 260-9-1. The fifth ball of the final over brought the end of the innings. Bicknell was caught at long-on - Morgan's second catch in that position but not as difficult as the one which he caught to dismiss Brown.

Surrey must have been disappointed with 260 after 155 for three in 30 overs. White, McCallan and Botha were largely responsible for this, and they were Ireland's best three bowlers. The other feature of the innings was that every Surrey wicket was fielder assisted - nine catches and a stumping. The time was now 4.37 p.m. and play could continue to 8 p.m. but further rain made this impossible.

The next day was a shade warmer. Play started on time and there were no rain interruptions. Ireland had a great start. 103 in 20.3 overs before the first wicket fell - a rate almost exactly that required. In that period Surrey used four bowlers. The three quick bowlers used were Bicknell (38 runs in six overs); Ormond (23 runs in six overs); Mahmood (29 runs in four overs) and off spinner Saqlain (nine runs in four overs). The latter was always the danger bowler and the Irish batsmen feared he might bowl his 10 overs for 20. In fact he bowled his 10 overs in a row and took one for 34. His 10th over (in which he took his sole wicket) was the 32nd of the innings after which the score was 154 for three. So at that point exactly a run a ball was required with Molins, Bray and Botha out.

Molins and Bray began in great style against Bicknell and Ormond. Bray hit a four in Ormond's first over and Molins took eight off Bicknell's second. Both batsmen got fours in Ormond's third over after which 31 was up in six overs (five fours). Then came a very difficult chance by Molins off Bicknell. The score was 34 and Molins was 16. He hit a ball high over cover (Benning) who turned, ran and dived with the ball coming over his shoulder. He could not hold on. 10 overs saw 55 up and at 62 Mahmood replaced Bicknell for the 13th over. Molins hit the second ball high over cover for four. Next ball was a no ball also hit for four. This brought a "free hit" off the next ball which was driven straight for four. 15 runs came from the over. Saqlain came on for over 14. In his second over (the 16th) a back foot drive for three gave Molins his 50 out of 87 from 46 balls. It was his 12th score over 50 in 57 innings. The next four overs mostly gave up singles. 100 arrived in over 20 and in the next over the first wicket fell - that of Molins. He played a rather careless and casual flick to leg off Mahmood. He missed and was bowled off stump after a wonderful 58 at exactly a run a ball with seven fours. 103-1-58. The 103 run stand for this first wicket equalled the previous best v a county, Northumberland (Nat West 1999) at Jesmond. It was between McCallan and Carson.

Botha joined Bray in an all left hand stand of 34 in six overs. Botha made 17 of these including two driven fours. There were two more no balls, and free hits but they were not expensive although the no ball in itself counted two runs in this competition. The 25 over score was 131 and, again, this was par. Leg spinner Salisbury bowled the 25th over. In the 27th he got Botha lbw. Botha played back and the ball kept low. 137-2-17. Dros arrived and saw Bray to his 50 in over 29 - 51 out of 149 off 88 balls. Four overs later Bray was out. It was Saqlain's last over. Bray waltzed down the pitch, missed, and was bowled. 154-3-52. He faced 92 balls, four fours and it was his fifth score over 50 in 15 innings. Next came Gillespie to join Dros, both known to be fast scorers. So it proved. 67 runs were put on off 62 balls, the fastest scoring rate of the innings. Each partner hit an early four. Hollioake's medium pace appeared (the sixth bowler used) when Saqlain was bowled out at 160. This was a mistake. The newcomer's only two overs cost 19 runs including a "pick up" six over square leg by Dros. Bicknell was hurriedly restored for over 38. The 39th over was Salisbury's eighth and last. It went for 11 bringing up 202 at its end including a back foot drive through the covers by Dros.

After Bicknell's next over, the 40th, the score stood at 207 so 55 were needed in 10 overs with seven wickets in hand. Mahmood returned instead of Salisbury who, some said, should have been allowed his 10 overs as it is sometimes easier to score quickly off fast bowlers. The over cost nine runs including a square leg four by Dros. Then Bicknell took a wicket in the 42nd over. Its last ball was pulled by Dros to deep square leg at some height. Brown raced to his right from mid-wicket to bring off a great catch as he met the ball at right angles. 221-4-45. Dros's 45 came off 53 balls. Enter Andy White to be joined by McCallan within one over. Gillespie was lbw in the 43rd over lunging forward to Mahmood. 223-5-28. Gillespie hit only one four but his runs came from 31 balls.

43 balls now remained to get 39 runs and now five wickets were down. Andy White had scored one run when Kyle McCallan arrived at number seven. The pair played wonderfully well. They needed only 33 of the remaining 43 balls. The crucial and match winning over was the 48th (Ormond) off which White scored 12 (plus a wide) to take the score to within two runs of victory. Ormond bowled the 44th over. White snicked a four over the wicket-keeper and in all seven runs were scored. 31 now required in six overs. Bicknell changed ends for his last over and only three runs were scored.

Now 28 runs needed in five overs. McCallan snicked a leg side four off Ormond's first ball of the 46th over and took a single off the third. Then Saqlain dropped White (7) at 239. Mahmood returned for Bicknell - 47th over. McCallan stroked a lovely extra cover four from the first ball and eight came in the over. 15 needed in three overs. 10 legal balls and two wides sufficed.

The first two balls of the 48th over (Ormond) were dot balls and White was dropped at mid-off from the second of those. He then hit four to fine leg and, after a wide, two twos to wide deep mid-on and extra cover. The sixth ball was swept to the square leg boundary. A wide and a single to fine leg by McCallan saw Ireland home in one of the most famous victories in Ireland's 580th match since the first in 1955. The Press rewarded White as Man-of-the-Match - a medallion plus 300 STG - for his 20 not out and three for 43. Saqlain was the best of Surrey's six bowlers with one for 34 in his 10 overs. The other five all went for more than five per over. Surrey's Ramprakash suffered most of all. In 1997 he was with Middlesex at Castle Avenue when Ireland won a Benson & Hedges match.

This was Ireland's tenth successive win, nine in 2003 and all limited overs Matches. McCallan and White had played in all 10 thus beating Paul McCrum's (1989/'98) record of nine wins in a row. - McCrum achieved his feat in mid career (1996/97) and they were not successive matches played by Ireland. Molins has played in the last eight successive wins and Morgan seven (since debut). The following have had successive personal wins but not in successive Irish Matches. Botha & Bray nine each; Gillespie eight; Eagleson seven and Bushe six. In this round of 16 matches the only other minnow to come through was Devon who beat Leicestershire.

Since Ireland first played in 1855 altogether 580 matches have been played. Of these it can be said that eight wins have been achieved against teams allegedly better than Ireland.

1) A win in a three day match in Cork -v- South Africab in 1904. South Africa played Tests at home since 1888 but were not to do so abroad until the next tour to England in 1907. The match on the 1904 tour was in early July and was the tourist's second defeat of three. Ireland took 20 wickets and won by 93 runs. TC Ross brought off one of Ireland's greatest bowling performances with nine for 28 and two for 56.

2) 1928 and the West Indies in England and playing Test cricket for the first time. They lost all three Tests by an innings. They came to College Park in early June and met their first defeat in a three-day first class match. Again Ireland took 20 wickets. In the second innings George McVeagh, at number eight, rescued Ireland from 92 for six with a score of 102 not out to get the total up to 320. Set 352 to win West Indies were 213 for two with two hours left. They collapsed but the last pair held out for 40 minutes until, with four minutes to go, McVeagh held his fourth catch of the innings to win the match by 60 runs.

3) 1947 -v- South Africa at Ormeau. A two day match was fixed but the visitors completed it in one day. Ireland were out for 32 and 61 and lost by an innings and 125 runs. The great off spinner Athol Rowan took 12 for 24! South Africa agreed to another match on the blank second day of the first. It was July 12th in Belfast! South Africa took the match very lightly. JC Boucher's seven for 37 bowled them out for 114. Ireland were 36 for four but a stand by RJ Barnes and EDR Shearer saw Ireland home by six wickets and, batting on, got to 202 all out. Ten South Africans bowled and Rowan did not play.

4) Next came the most famous and talked about of all the eight wins. Early July, 1969 at Sion Mills and West Indies bowled out for 25 - and lucky to get 25 having been 12 for nine (Goodwin five for six, O'Riordan four for 18). The win was by nine wickets and a slow green top was too much for a poor West Indies team.

5) 1977 at Pagham a seaside town in Sussex. A Three-day match and Ireland's first ever win over a County team. It was late July and Imran Khan's first match for the County. He began with a century. Ireland took 20 wickets (Monteith eight of them for 121) and were set 200 to win in the fourth innings. The score was 18 for three and 71 for four before J. F. Short (99) and C. C. J. Harte (49) came together and eventually the match was won by three wickets. Short's 99 was the first ever such score by an Irish player. It was Alec O'Riordan's 72nd and last match for Ireland. In it he completed 2000 runs to add to his 200 wickets. As this is written in 2004 he is still the only one to complete this exalted double.

Four players shared the West Indies and Sussex wins - IJ Anderson, OD Colhoun; LP Hughes and AJ O'Riordan.

6) Twenty years elapsed before the next big win - in 1997 -v- Middlesex in the Benson & Hedges Cup. In the 18th year of trying a County was at last beaten in a competitive match. Due to rain it lasted two days and was played at Castle Avenue, Dublin. Ireland led off with 281 for four, JD Curry 75 and WJ Cronje (the current South African Captain who met tragedy and died aged 32) all*. Middlesex could not match this. Four bowlers shared wickets and Ireland won by 46 runs in the 50 overs per side match.

7) Six years on, in 2003, a Test Country on tour in Ireland (Zimbabwe) were not just beaten at Stormont in Belfast they were, in fact, embarrassed. Ireland won by 10 wickets! Put in Zimbabwe were bowled out for 182 with five Irish bowlers sharing wickets. Then JAM Molins (107) and JP Bray (67) hit off the runs in 33.4 overs - the second best opening stand ever for Ireland, the best in a limited overs match and the first against a Test playing Country. Two players shared this win and that -v- Middlesex in 1997 - WK McCallan and PG Gillespie.

8) One year and 14 matches later came this defeat of Surrey in 2004. Ireland qualified for this round by beating Hertfordshire at the end of the 2003 Season.

Many people would rate this win as the best of the eight because of Surrey's recent fine record in terms of Trophies won and the fact that they had 8 players in the team with International experience. Indeed all their six bowlers in this match had played Test Match cricket.

Common to the Zimbabwe win of 2003 and this Surrey match were six - Molins, Bray, Botha, Gillespie, McCallan and White. Gillespie and McCallan can boast of being in three of the eight wins, Middlesex, Zimbabwe and Surrey.

Ireland would not have to wait too long to add another famous victory to the above eight.

Castle Avenue, Clontarf