For the first cap match of 2006, a C & G Trophy match against Hampshire at Castle Avenue on 29th April, a panel of 12 was nominated. Two of the 12 were Shahid Afridi and Saqlain Mushtaq, Pakistan Test players and the two permitted non-qualified players. AR White was available and drafted in and the other nine were in the practice match squads. Omitted from that squad were JAM Molins; KJ O'Brien; CM Armstrong and JF Mooney. PJK Mooney remained on the injured list and JP Bray would, as usual, keep wicket in these limited overs matches.
This competition changed from a knock-out to a league. The 18 first class counties plus Ireland and Scotland took part, with it divided into 2 sections, North and South. Ireland are participating in the Southern Section, with Essex, Gloucestershire, Glamorgan, Hampshire, Kent, Middlesex, Somerset, Surrey and Sussex. For this competition Ireland were allowed two non-qualified players. To fill these roles they recruited two Pakistani Test Players. Initially these were Saqlain Mushtaq and Abdur Razzak. However, Razzak changed his mind and was replaced by Shahid Afridi. He, however, was unable to be present for this match as his daughter was ill in Pakistan.
The rest of the Irish team was much as it had been in 2005. A newcomer was D Langford-Smith, an Australian, who had been playing for Phoenix for some years as an opening bowler, who could also bat, and who was now qualified by residence. He looked somewhat unfit and gave up 63 runs in his 5.4 overs, but could easily have had a wicket or two in his opening overs, when he swung and seamed the ball but could not induce a snick. From the party which visited Namibia for the last matches of 2005, O'Brien was not released by Kent, PJK Mooney was injured and Armstrong and Thompson were dropped. Middlesex and Northamptonshire agreed to release EJG Morgan and AR White respectively. A new rule for this competition allowed these players to play for Ireland unless and until such time as their counties required them to play for their counties in this competition. They could, therefore, play for two teams in this competition. However, if called up and actually played for their counties in this competition, they could not then revert to play in this competition for Ireland. Bray kept wicket for Ireland.
A very early match for Ireland in which they made a respectable score of 202, having been put in, but bowled poorly, if a little unluckily at the start.
Hampshire were without their captain, Shane Warne, who had just finished a tour of Bangladesh with Australia, and Pietersen, the England Test Player who, being a centrally contracted player, was required to rest by the ECB. Shaun Udal, who had played for England in India, did play and was captain. Also playing for Hampshire were John Crawley, who had played for England, and Chris Tremlett, who is on the fringe of the England team. Ervine was a Zimbabwe Test player (and the holder of an Irish passport) and Thornley was an Australia import.
The day started sunny, but with a chill wind. This disappeared in the afternoon. The pitch had its usual slow pace but was firm and played well. The match was covered by Sky TV and there was quite a good crowd, despite a major rugby game at Lansdowne Road. Hampshire won the toss and put Ireland in to bat.
Joyce and Bray were the openers to Tremlett and Bruce. They were both medium fast and Tremlett (6'8") brought the ball down from a good height. The start was steady, if slow. 16 was the total when, in the sixth over, Bruce moved one into Joyce and had him lbw. Initially it had been thought he was caught at the wicket but a review of the Television coverage made it clear he was LBW. 16-1-9. Morgan came in and a fine partnership of 66 developed in 16 overs - a good rate. Bray had a stroke of luck when he was six and the total 17 when he was dropped at gully off a low catch from the bowling of Tremlett.
Morgan hit a glorious four through mid off in the next Bruce over, and Bray celebrated his let off two overs later with two fours off Bruce, straight and through extra cover. He scored two more in Tremlett's next over, one off the back foot. Logan, slow medium, replaced Tremlett for the 13th over and in the course of this over the score moved from 45 to 61. The first six deliveries consisted of 5 wides and 1 no-ball (which counted two in this competition). Morgan then swept the free hit for 4. It transpired to be Logan's only over!
Another medium pacer, Mascarenhas, had come on for Bruce. Bray snicked him for four. Then Bray hooked Ervine, who had come on for Logan, for four, high but dangerously to fine leg. When Bray then hit Mascarenhas for another four in over 16 he has hit three fours in successive overs. In over 19 Morgan was out when he looked set. He was nearly run out off the previous ball when backward square leg (Thornley) broke the wicket with only one stump to aim at. It was referred to the third umpire, Barry Ledbetter, who gave him "not out". Next ball, however, saw Morgan sweep the ball in the air to deep backward square leg where Bruce took the catch. 82-2-17. Worse followed. In the next over, after two wides, Botha was out to the second legal ball he faced. He mis-drove and gave a difficult low chance to short extra cover, which Crawley took very well. 84-3-0.
White came in and seemed to be in good form. The 100 came up in over 24. Next over, however, White played back and across and was LBW, giving Ervine, the Zimbabwean, his second wicket. 103-4-5. Johnston came in to join Bray and now Ervine and Udal bowled a spell in tandem and the scoring pace slowed. In nine overs only 28 runs were scored, but in this period Bray went to 50 (at 107) with a four off Udal. He reached this target in 72 balls and 103 minutes with 8 fours. It was his 19th half-century to add to his four centuries. Then, in over 34, disaster struck. It was necessary for Bray to bat out the innings but he was run out. Bray hit a single square of the wicket. Johnston called a bad second run and Bray started late for it. The ball was returned to the keeper, Pothas, and he threw to the bowler, Udal, who broke the wicket with Bray out of his ground. 132-5-9. Bray had faced 96 balls and hit 8 fours.
Gillespie was next. He is always a bad starter and wafted at the fourth ball he faced and was caught by Lamb at slip. 134-6-0. Johnston and McCallan set about a revival. Ervine was bowled out (10-2-21-2) and Hampshire used a series of bowlers. In the next eight overs 31 runs were scored before Johnston, in over 42, foolishly had a wild swing at opening bowler Bruce and was bowled. 105-7-21. Langford-Smith joined McCallan. His opening runs for Ireland came from a late cut for 4 off Bruce, but he lost McCallan, lbw to Mascarenhas in over 45. 180-8-17. Next in was Saqlain Mushtaq. In over 47 he skied to mid-on but the ball fell safely. However, he was caught by Udal at wide mid-on in over 48 when the score was 190-9-6.
Two balls later Langford-Smith got a "life" when he skied the ball high in the air to wide mid-on but was dropped by Udal. He celebrated by hitting the only six of the innings in the next over to wide long-on. Eventually the end of the innings came with three balls to spare when McCoubrey was bowled by Bruce heaving to leg. Ireland had lasted until the 50th over and 202 was a target to give the Irish bowlers some hope. Of the 202 scored by Ireland only 153 were scored by the batsmen with extras contributing no less than 49, 26 of them wides. The worst culprit was Mascarenhas with 10 while Logan bowled 5 in his one over. Bruce had the best figures with four for 31 in 9.3 overs.
Hampshire made light of their task. With the scores level a four was hit to win the match, the 206 runs scored coming from 33.4 overs, which is 202 balls.
Although the opening pair, Pothas and Crawley, brought 50 up in over 8, they were a bit lucky. McCoubrey and Langford-Smith swung and seamed the ball while the batsmen played and missed. The score could easily have been 15 for 2. Seven wides were bowled in the first seven overs and Pothas edged a four off McCoubrey. Crawley took 12 off Langford-Smith's second over. Pothas, in the sixth over, inside edged McCoubrey and it missed the off stump by a whisker. Next ball he hit a six over cover. In the seventh over (McCoubrey) Crawley again snicked and Bray, diving far to his left, nearly made the catch. Two successive fours to Pothas (one over extra cover) off Langford-Smith took Hampshire to 50 in only the 8th over.
Johnston and Saqlain were tried but the captain only bowled two overs for 14 runs before Botha came on and had his first two balls hit for four by Pothas - a cut and a pull. The last ball of over 15 brought the 100 up. In the next over Pothas went to 51 out of 103 in 52 balls with seven fours. Saqlain bowled a five over spell for 21 and McCallan replaced him for over 20. The first wicket fell in over 23 to Botha. Pothas, on one knee, heaved across the line and was LBW. 135-1-69. Pothas faced 75 balls and hit 10 fours. Ervine came in and there was a slow period. Crawley went to his 50 out of 140 off 69 balls but Ervine did not score until the 13th ball he faced. The 27th over (Saqlain returning for Botha) was the only maiden of the innings.
Ervine opened his account with successive fours off McCallan, one over the bowler's head and one wide to mid off, using his feet down the pitch. 150 was up in over 29. In the 30th over McCallan was hit for 17 including an Ervine six to wide long-on. Langford-Smith returned and started with three wides. Another wicket did fall before the end. Ervine drove at Saqlain and Joyce held a good low catch at short extra cover. Thornley came in and hit his second ball for six. He did not face again as Crawley ended the match in over 34 with three fours in four balls off Langford-Smith.
The Irish wicket takers were the best of the bowlers. Botha's figures read 7-0-31-1 while Saqlain had 9-1-38-1. Langford-Smith had a poor debut conceding 63 runs from 34 legal balls bowled. Crawley finished 76 not out from 90 balls with 13 fours. He could still be a Test player.
This was the third Ireland match against Hampshire. The last one was in 1996 (Benson & Hedges Cup) at Southampton and there were no survivors from that game in either team.
A change in the regulations of this competition meant that there would be no Man-of-the-Match award in the League section.
- Irish manager Roy Torrens presents Dave Langford-Smith with his cap
- Roy Torrens presents Saqlain Mushtaq with an Irish cap
- The Sky Sports commentary team
- During the pre-match warm-up
- Jeremy Bray drives through the off side
- James Bruce takes a throw in
- Jeremy Bray in action
- An awkward delivery for Bray
- James Bruce took 4 for 31 for Hampshire
- Jeremy Bray misses out
- Trent Johnston tries to sweep
- Kyle McCallan works the ball away
- Dimitri Mascharenas bowling for Hampshire
- Trent Johnston is bowled by James Bruce
- Dave Langford-Smith plays and misses
- Saqlain Mushtaq requires attention from Irish physio Iain Knox
- Eoin Morgan throwing in
- Adrian McCoubrey opening the bowling for Ireland
- Hampshire's John Crawley is beaten by this delivery from Langford-Smith
- Sean Ervine made a very fluent 31 for Hampshire
- Nic Pothas during his innings of 69 for Hampshire
- Andre Botha bowling for Ireland as umpires Jerry Lloyds looks on