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Match Report
Derek Scott

An anti-climax! It was very disappointing to lose the final of a worldwide tournament which was being staged for the first time in Ireland. It was yet another example of Ireland losing what might be termed a "crunch match" in a tournament, in other words a match where victory was required to win the tournament. One really has to go back to 1996 and the final of the first European Championship in Brondby in Denmark to find Ireland winning a crunch match. That was the victory over Holland.

The disappointment on this occasion was alleviated by the knowledge that qualification for the World Cup in West Indies in 2007 had been achieved by topping our section in the preliminaries during the previous week.

Scotland won their first ICC Trophy at the third attempt, and deserved to. In the final they were easily the better team, and their task was perhaps made easier by Ireland's crass decision to send them in on winning the toss. The day was warm and sunny, the pitch was flat and slow and Ireland's bowling was very poor. No wonder Scotland made 324 and that the match was over as a contest at the half way mark. Ireland had chased runs twice in the previous five ICC Trophy matches. However they did so against lesser teams than Scotland (UAE and Canada) and, in each case, only won, amidst much excitement, in the last over. History was also against Ireland. Limited over matches against Scotland began in 1993 with a win for Ireland in the first Triple Crown. Since then 15 more such matches have been played and Ireland lost 13 of them. Some consolation was gained by winning in Holland in 2004 and in a practice match (though a non-cap one) prior to this year's event.

Ireland suffered a loss before the game began when their captain, JAM Molins, was injured in training and could not play. Ed Joyce said he would return from Middlesex if Ireland got to the final. He was true to his word and came in for Molins as the only change from the semi-final v Canada. McCallan became captain for the second time this year and the 33rd time in all. A very large crowd attended the match, including all the top officials from the ICC

Scotland used an out-and-out "pinch hitter" in Hoffman who was also their opening bowler. His partner was DF Watts. In four overs from Mooney and Johnston 32 runs were scored, 23 to Hoffman. In Mooney's first over Hoffman waltzed down the pitch and hit a four over extra-cover. In Mooney's next over he hit four fours in five balls. The onslaught began with a misfield by Morgan at mid-on. Next ball was bludgeoned back over the bowlers' head, followed by a four to mid-wicket. The fourth ball of the over was defended but the fifth was skied to fine third man - the fielder being too wide to try for a catch. The score was 26 after this third over, Hoffman 22 and four wides. Watts hit a four off Johnston and, in the fourth over, the batsmen changed ends for the first time. The first ball of the fifth over (Mooney) was a wide which went to the boundary. Hoffman, swatting at every ball, skied the next ball very high to square-leg were Dom Joyce caught it. 37-1-23.

Watson came in and his stand with Watts was the kernel of Scotland's ultimate very high total. The second wicket pair put on 120 in 23 overs and it only came to an end by way of a run out. 50 was up in over eight. Watson hit four fours early on, three off Mooney and one off Johnston and Watts had a lucky snick between the slips.

Botha (over 10) came on for Johnston and Cooke for Mooney. In the latter's first over Watson hit three successive fours off the first three balls. He advanced to the first and hit it over cover, the second went to mid-wicket and the third to square-leg. All the deliveries were short pitched. Each batsman hit a four in Cooke's second over and still the bowling was too short pitched. By the end of over 15, when the field could be spread, the score was 103 and even now a massive Scottish total seemed likely unless wickets could be taken.

McCallan and White were tried so that six bowlers were used within 20 overs - the score at that point was 130 and Watson had reached 50 in over 20 off 45 balls. In the 25th over Watts also reached 50, off 77 balls, and the half way score was 149. Two overs later the second wicket fell, Watson called a foolish run to mid-off. White gathered and threw down the wicket at the wicket-keeper's end. 157-2-55. Watts hit five fours and faced 83 balls. He made exactly 50 of the 120 run stand but he was badly missed on a leg side stumping when 41 in McCallan's third over. English joined Watson and Cooke came back for White. Cooke's second over of this spell was a maiden to English, the only maiden of the innings. This was the 30th over and now the score was 166 with only two out. The predicted score was now between 330 and 350.

Both batsmen got fours in Cooke's sixth over (the 32nd) which ended with four overthrows from a fine leg fielder - a leg bye having been run. The over cost 15. Johnston replaced Cooke for the 34th over and the change took a wicket. English skied a drive straight to White at deep gully. 195-3-20. The next batsman, wicket keeper Smith, took part in the lowest stand of the innings - a matter of three runs. Smith, a policeman, had had to return to Scotland for much of the first week as part of the policing of the G8 summit at Gleneagles. In McCallan's next over Johnston at close gully made a great effort to catch Watson (then 73) diving to his left and, in fact, injuring himself. When he had recovered Smith, now facing, came down the pitch to a ball that drifted away and was stumped. 198-4-2.

Then came Brown with 15 overs left. In those 15 over 126 runs were scored, chiefly due to Brown's 59 runs in 44 balls, 36 of those in boundaries. Brown is a very successful county player with Warwickshire. McCallan was soon bowled out (one for 41). Mooney came back for two overs, 200 having come up in 36 overs. In Mooney's second over on return Watson took two fours, both to fine-leg, and Brown one to mid-wicket. Then, in the 40th over, Watson was out for 94. His dismissal was similar to that of English, caught White (again at deep gully) bowled Johnston and again off a sliced drive. 234-5-94. Watson faced only 99 balls and hit 13 fours. Hamilton, who had played one test match in South Africa, came next. He faced 13 balls in making 12 while 49 were put on with Brown in only six overs. Brown plundered the bowling of White and Johnston. He hit a six off White over mid-wicket and brought up 250 in over 42 (off Johnston) by means of a four to fine leg and another snicked past the leg stump.

Two more fours came in Johnston's last over (44th) to mid-wicket and backward square. 66 had come in the last eight overs. Now Ireland were hampered by an injury to Botha. He had injured his ankle. The five overs he had bowled had cost 20, economical in the context of this match, but he was now off the field, replaced by Shoukat. White and Cooke had to bowl the last six overs, as Mooney had been expensive and Johnston and McCallan were bowled out. The 45th over, White's seventh, saw a single scored off every ball. Cooke replaced Johnston for the 46th over and took a wicket. Hamilton clipped a ball to leg and Morgan caught him. It was rather akin to White's two catches but this time on the leg side. 283-6-12. The left handed Lockhart came in and watched Brown take nine off the 47th over (White) including a six over mid-wicket. Then, with the final ball of Cooke's next over, Brown was caught at long-off by Dom Joyce. His 59, from 44 balls, with two sixes and six fours, effectively played Ireland out of the game. 292-7-59.

With Maiden coming next only 17 balls remained but 32 runs were scored off them. 11 came in the remainder of Cooke's over which brought the 300 up. In it Maiden hit a straight six off the first ball he faced, and Cooke dropped a very hard caught and bowled chance. The penultimate over saw nine runs scored. Cooke took his third wicket with the first ball of the last over. Maiden was caught wide at long-on - Dom Joyce's third catch. 312-8-11. Scotland's captain Wright arrived at number 10, faced one ball off which he scored a single. Lockhart faced the other four balls off which he scored 11 including two fours. 324 was a huge total with 90 coming in the last 10 overs. There were three sixes and 34 fours - 154 or 47% in boundaries.

Ireland used six bowlers. With the exception of Botha (five overs for 20 before his injury) and McCallan (10 overs for 41) the rest can only be described as "awful". It was the wrong day to chose to have such a bad bowling display. Mooney went for nine runs per over, Johnston for almost seven, Cooke for almost eight and White for six. All bowled far too short for this slow pitch. The fielding help up well, and the leading Scottish batsmen, Watts, Watson and Brown, between them got 208 of the 324 runs and faced only 226 balls.

Ireland never came to grips with the rate of 6 runs per over. Two wickets were down for 11 runs after three overs. The 10 over landmarks were always below par. It was 33 for two after 10 overs (32 below par); 97 for two after 20 (33 below par); 171 for three after 30 overs (34 below par) and 218 for seven after 40 (42 below par). 107 in the last ten overs, with only three wickets in hand, was a forlorn quest. However, Money and Cooke provided the huge crown with a rousing finish as they put on 55 unbroken in a last wicket stand in 52 balls.

In the absence of Molins Dom Joyce opened with Bray. The speedy Hoffman and Warwickshire's Brown led the Scottish attack. Hoffman took two wickets in his second over. The first ball had Joyce caught at the wicket and the last ball saw Morgan lbw as he moved across his stumps and missed. With Ed Joyce as his partner Bray played a maiden from Brown. In fact, in four overs only one run came off the bat and Bray was dropped in the slips by Lockhart off Hoffman when two and the total at 12. The seven over score was 16 but it was 35 after 10, both batsmen hitting fours. Over 12 was another maiden from Brown to Bray, the fifth maiden out of 12 overs bowled. Hoffman then bowled his seventh and last over of this spell (13th over) and Bray hit three fours off successive balls - two square drives and a "pick up" shot to fine leg. 50 came up. Wright replaced Brown and Joyce took 10 off the over, including two successive fours, an aerial off drive and another to wide mid-on.

Blain, fastish with county experience, replaced Hoffman. Joyce was dropped at cover off the second ball which actually carried on to the boundary. Then Bray square cut a four. Wright only bowled three overs and Watson, off spin, replaced him for over 20. At its end the score was 97. In Blain's next over Joyce top edged a short over the wicket-keeper to bring 100 up. Bray hit two successive fours in Watson's second over, a back foot cut and a sweep to fine leg. Off spinner Maiden came on for Blain. The 25 over score was 139 and in six overs, from over 20, 45 runs were scored. Bray reached 50 in Maiden's first over, the 23rd, from 75 balls and one over later Joyce followed suit from 50 balls. The stand of 137, in just over 23 overs, ended in over 26. Bray swept Maiden to deep square leg but failed to carry the fielder (Watson). 148-3-70. Bray faced 90 balls with 10 fours.

Joyce and Gillespie then put on 31 runs in six overs. In this stand Joyce faced 20 balls to Gillespie's 17 but scored 21 runs to Gillespie's nine. The feature was a straight six by Joyce off Maiden in over 31. Wright came back for Maiden and got Gillespie with his fourth ball. He was caught at mid-wicket. 179-4-9. The injured Johnston was next and despite his shoulder injury played well but unfortunately lost Joyce at 185 and thus went the last hope. Joyce also attempted to carry the mid wicket boundary, but, like Bray, failed to carry Watson. 185-5-81. Joyce failed only 82 balls and hit a six and ten fours. His tally in the five ICC Trophy matches in which he played was 399 runs, one short of giving him an average of 100. Wright was next, and Wright took his third wicket in successive overs when he had White lbw. 188-6-0. Botha was next in. He was also injured and used Dom Joyce as his runner. He hit a four to wide mid-wicket off his fifth ball. A straight four by Johnston brought up 200 in over 38.

Then Johnston attacked over 39 (Wright) off which 14 runs came. Johnston came down the pitch twice hitting a four to extra cover and a six over the screen. Watson came back for Maiden for over 40. Botha moved in to hit to leg, missed, and was lbw. 217-7-10. McCallan faced only seven balls. Brown replaced Wright and McCallan was caught at short extra off a flat bat shot. 218-8-1. Mooney was number 10. Maiden replaced Watson, Scotland's ninth bowling change. Johnston came down the pitch, missed, and was stumped. 222-9-23. Johnston got his 23 in 19 balls.

Cooke joined Mooney. 52 balls remained and the last wicket not alone remained unbeaten but put on 55 runs. It was Ireland's first partnership for the tenth wicket of over 50 in a limited overs match. The previous best was 31 v Berkshire in 2002 between AGAM McCoubrey and GJ Neely. Cooke swept Maiden for a four to backward square-leg in over 44. Hoffman came back for over 46 and Mooney snicked him for four. Brown's tenth over was the 47th. 250 came up and Cooke hit a four to long-leg. Blain reappeared for over 49, only his fifth over. Cooke hit a four to extra-cover. Hoffman bowled the last over and Cooke hit another four to extra-cover. The crowd, disappointed at the result, at least went home with a cheerful finish in their minds. Cooke's 34, at number 11, was the third highest score of the innings.

Scotland used six bowlers. All but one, Blain, took at least one wicket. Wright had three wickets and went for seven runs per over. Hoffman had two wickets and his cost per over was nearly five runs. Maiden also got two wickets and his overs cost nine each. By far the least expensive was Brown who had one for 33 in 10 overs. Only he and Hoffman bowled 10 overs.

Ehsan Mani, Chairman of ICC, presented the cup and there were medals for both teams. Watson was named Man-of-the-Match and Bas Zuiderent (Holland) was named Man-of-the-Tournament.

By losing the final Ireland became number two qualifier for the 2007 World Cup Finals, and are allocated to Jamaica where they will meet Zimbabwe, Pakistan and West Indies.

Photographs
Castle Avenue, Clontarf