Excluding the visit of West Indies "A" in 2002, this was the 10th visit of the West Indies to Ireland. They are our most frequent visitors among the Test playing nations. 13 matches have been played with 2 Irish wins (1928, 1969), 4 losses and 7 draws. The last visit was in 1995 and the West Indies survivors of that match in Dublin are S Chanderpaul (who made 101) and BC Lara. Devon Smith and Bravo played against Ireland for West Indies "A" in 2002. The party had only left West Indies on Sunday so this was their first match.
Ireland made three changes from the match against Northamptonshire. N O'Brien (Kent) and A McCoubrey (Essex) were released by their counties and replaced JA Bushe and PJK Mooney (who was injured). Dros had gone back to South Africa and was replaced by G Cooke. The latter decided to come out of retirement and make himself available for selection. He had not played for Ireland since 2000. Only J Molins had played in the 1995 match. JF Mooney was 12th Man.
For the first time Ireland played in coloured clothing with names and squad numbers on the back. The coloured clothing was a bit dull - navy with green sleeves. Also for the first time there were black sightscreens and while balls. The West Indies squad of 15 was selected for the one day Nat West Matches against England and New Zealand. This came first on the programme for their tour of England. It was a very youthful squad. The four left out of this match were Dwayne Smith, Jacobs, Best and Sarwan.
The day started overcast with a chilly wind but soon the sun was out and remained so all day. The pitch was hard with a touch of green. This gave a bit of bounce and the odd ball jumped. At the outset it can be said the match had a disappointing second half for Ireland after a very good first half. West Indies won the toss and batted and were 205 for 4 in the 37th over. Then Lara was dismissed for 106 (his first success against Ireland in his fourth attempt) and West Indies were all out 38 runs and nine overs later. In reply Ireland never remotely challenged and were all out in the 38th over for 146 - only one batsman (McCallan) reaching 30. The matches were sponsored by Bank of Ireland (£10,000) and they provided Man-of-the-Match awards of £500 Stg. and a decanter.
Gayle and Chanderpaul (both left handers) opened for West Indies to Johnston and McCoubrey. After two overs the score was five but four were extras. In the next three overs both batsmen took two fours. Then, in the sixth over, Chanderpaul was run out. He played to Morgan at mid-wicket and ran. Gayle refused the run (correctly) and Chanderpaul could not beat the throw to O'Brien. 29-1-11. Devon Smith, another left hander, glanced his first ball for four. He was out off the second! It lifted from McCoubrey and it was feathered to O'Brien. 33-2-4. Bravo, 20 years of age, who had not yet played Test Cricket was next, but he lost Gayle in the eighth over. He played on to McCoubrey. 40-3-16. Now came Lara to a great reception. It was the end of Ireland's wicket taking for 26 overs and 139 runs.
Both batsmen began slowly and Lara had big appeals against him for lbw and caught at the wicket. The odd ball jumped and there was some playing and missing. Three more bowlers, Botha, Cooke and White were tried before the 20th over, by which time the score was 87 (50 in the 12th over). At 86 McCallan made a great attempt to catch Bravo off Cooke, diving to his left at mid-off. Then in over 25 (White) Lara hit a six over mid-on to bring up 100. In over 26 (McCallan) Lara snicked a four and hit one through mid-on. Johnston came back for Cooke (seven overs for 23) and actually bowled a maiden to Lara. McCoubrey had bowled a maiden to Lara earlier. In McCallan's next over (29th) Lara hit a four to wide long-off to bring him to 52 out of 133 from 72 balls. After 30 overs the score was 143 so, with Lara in, 300 plus was a possibility.
This view was enhanced in the next five overs. Over 31 (McCallan) saw 16 scored - 15 to Lara including a six over long-off. White replaced McCallan and Lara scored a further 14 in this over (33rd) including a big six over mid-wicket. Then Botha came back for Johnston (eight overs for 29) and bowled Bravo who tried to glide to third man a ball that was too near him and which came back a shade. 179-4-45. With Powell in Lara gave White a difficult caught and bowled chance wide to his right hand when 86. Next ball he hit a six over mid-wicket! A two and two fours (the second a snick) off Botha's next over (36th) brought 200 up and Lara's century off only 96 balls. In White's next over (37th) Lara was caught at long-on by McCallan running in. 205-5-106. Lara faced 99 balls with four sixes (the only four such in the innings) and 12 fours. It had been a great crowd pleasing innings from the current ranked World's best batsman. He holds the first class record score of 501* and the Test record of 400*, a record he recently regained from Australian Matthew Hayden. Sammy, playing his first match in West Indies colours, arrived and was out in the same over, second ball he faced. He pushed a high full toss to Morgan at mid-wicket. 206-6-0. Baugh, reserve wicket keeper for Jacobs, came next. He and Powell, an elegant batsman, had an 18 run stand in four overs. McCallan had returned for Botha and, in over 42, Powell played back, missed, and was bowled. 224-7-14. In this over Cooke, picking up a slow moving ball at mid-off, strained ligaments in his leg which required him to be taken to hospital by ambulance. In the same ambulance was his nine year old son, Curtis, who had been hit on the head by a Lara six. When the game resumed Botha replaced White (over 43) and had Bradshaw caught at the wicket. 233-8-7.
By now Ireland had two subs in the field. Gary Wilson (a member of Ireland's Under-19 team in Bangladesh) for Cooke and JF Mooney for McCoubrey (damaged heel). Baugh was out in over 46 brilliantly caught by one of those subs (Wilson) moving to his right at long-on. 239-9-15. Botha took the last wicket in over 47 when he bowled last man, Lawson. 205 for 4 had become 242 all out. Six bowlers were used but none bowled 10 overs. Botha was the best wicket taker, three for 42 in 8.2 overs. McCoubrey, White and McCallan took 2 each - the latter two very expensively and McCoubrey for 26 in six overs. McCoubrey's injury prevented him having a second spell.
There is very little to be said about Ireland's innings which was disappointing. The best stand was 38 for the seventh wicket (Johnston and McCallan). The highest score was McCallan's 32. The only other score of 20 was 21 each by both Bray and Botha. The innings only lasted 37.4 overs but West Indies had three bowlers, Rampaul, Lawson and Bradshaw, who were all faster than any of the Irish bowlers.
The start was good but only lasted four overs by which time Molins and Bray had put on 27 against 19 year old Rampaul and Lawson. Molins had hit three fours and Bray two. Then Molins mishit Rampaul to short extra cover. 30-1-18. Two overs later, Bray, after striking four fours was also out to Rampaul. He played a wild high cut and dragged the ball down on to the wicket. 39-2-21. Bray had failed in his quest for a record breaking fifth score of more than 50 in successive innings. In the ninth over O'Brien gave Rampaul his third wicket. He played back and snicked to wicket keeper Baugh. 47-3-2.
Gillespie joined Botha and a stand of 25 ensued in 10 overs. Gillespie faced 22 balls and scored 3! Botha faced 39 balls, scored 17 of the runs and was first out at 72. Bradshaw, left arm fast over the wicket, had come on and Botha played on to a straight ball. 72-4-21. Sammy, medium pace, had joined the attack and, in the over after Botha's dismissal, Gillespie was out to a poor shot, caught at point. 74-5-3. McCallan joined White but, for once, this partnership did not last very long. Both hit fours and 17 runs came from 19 balls. Then White chased a wide ball from Bradshaw and was caught by Baugh diving to his right. 91-6-8.
Johnston joined McCallan in a stand of 38 in 11 overs. In over 23 (Sammy) McCallan square cut a no ball for four. In over 25 Johnston got off the mark with a two which brought up 100. Scoring was slow for five overs apart from a straight drive for four by Johnston off Bravo (fast medium) and an off glance for four by McCallan, also off Bravo. The 30 over score was 120. Gayle, off spin, came on for over 31 and dismissed Johnston in over 33. He pulled a ball to deep square leg where Bradshaw did not have to move to catch it. 129-7-17.
The 17 year old Morgan came in at number 9. He plays as a batsman but so strong is the batting order he finds himself low down. This is his eighth international but only his fourth innings. He added 16 with McCallan in four overs before being bowled by Gayle backing away and not spotting the arm ball. 145-8-9. One over later all was over (Cooke being unable to bat) when McCallan was bowled by a Lawson yorker.
West Indies used six bowlers of whom five took at least one wicket. The best was Rampaul, three for 25 in six overs at the start. The Bank of Ireland sponsored Man-of-the-Match award went to Brian Lara. The ground at Stormont looked very well with many marquees and tents and a very big crowd.