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Match Report
Derek Scott

Ireland has had many excellent and unexpected wins in recent years. This must rank very high among those. Perhaps it might be seen as second after the famous dismissal of the West Indies for 25 in 1969. In fact this win was history making because it was the first win in an away match against an English County in a competitive match. In 1977 Sussex were defeated at Pagham in a friendly three-day match. Shahid Afridi was now available to play. He replaced White from the Hampshire match. White was unfit to play due to a wrist injury. Otherwise the team was unchanged. PJK Mooney was 12th Man.

In the last seven seasons Gloucestershire had won seven limited overs competitions including this one (in its knock-out format) in 2003 and 2004. Ireland have played Gloucestershire 8 times previously in all. The last match against Gloucestershire was in Dublin in 1996 in the Benson & Hedges Cup (won by Gloucestershire by 168 runs). The only survivors from that game playing in this one were Lewis for Gloucestershire (now their captain) and Gillespie for Ireland.

The day was grey when Ireland were put in to bat before quite a good crowd. The pitch was slow but the Bristol pitches also give the bowlers a good chance, particularly spinners. When it came to the end game two of Ireland's spinners, Afridi and McCallan, bowled 12 overs, nine maidens and took six wickets for nine runs, Gloucester collapsing from 77 for two to 146 all out with 12 overs to spare.

Ireland's start was very bad. At 23 for three the score of 193 ultimately achieved seemed far distant. Joyce and Bray were the openers to Lewis and Averis, both on the quick side of medium. The start was slow although Bray did hit a "pick up" six to square leg off Lewis in the seventh over. Two balls later Averis had Joyce lbw hitting wildly across the line. 18-1-7. Morgan was next but with only one run added (a wide) Bray was run out for the second time in succession. He pushed to the off, called an impossible run, and was rightly sent back. He dive nearly brought him home but not quite. 19-2-9. Botha had made nought against Hampshire and this was a repeat. With only four more runs added, he played forward to Averis, missed and was lbw. 23-3-0.

Morgan and Afridi had a job to save the innings. Not alone did they do it, but they did so at some speed. No less than 71 runs were added in 14 overs. Most of these runs came from the change bowlers, Hardinges (medium fast) and Harvey who had played 73 limited overs matches for Australia. The Irish pair kept pace with each other. They each hit a four and brought 50 up in over 18. Gidman came on at 77 for three for over 24 and both batsmen had at this stage scored 27. Then Morgan "took off". He hit Hardinges for a six to mid wicket and the half way, 25 overs, score was 90. Unfortunately it did not last. In Gidman's second over (26th) Morgan hit his fifth four but, two balls later, mistimed and lobbed a catch into the covers. 94-4-40. Morgan's 40 came off 58 balls with a six and five fours. With Johnston in Ball (off spin) came on for Hardinges and had the captain lbw second ball playing forward. 96-5-1.

Gillespie joined Afridi (then 30) and it was Gillespie who rallied the second half of the innings as he has often done in the past. A four to Afridi in Gidman's third over brought up 101 in over 28. The stand only lasted into Ball's second over. Afridi was bowled, head in the air. 107-6-36. Afridi's 36 came from 42 balls but contained only two fours. McCallan joined Gillespie who played a maiden from Gidman. The stand put on 11, of which eight were singles, in six overs. Averis came back for Gidman but the seventh wicket did not fall to a bowler. In the 36th over McCallan pushed Averis to wide mid off and called a poor run. Windows threw down the bowler's wicket. 118-7-6.

The innings needed a stand and this was provided by Gillespie and Langford-Smith. Lewis returned for Averis and Langford-Smith played a maiden. The 40 over score was 132. Then both players increased the pace, as they had to in order to reach a respectable total. In over 42 Langford-Smith hit Lewis for a six over mid-wicket. For over 44 Harvey came back for Lewis and 11 came from the over, including a Gillespie six over square leg from a full toss. The next over (Hardinges for Ball) gave up 11 more, with Langford-Smith pulling and square cutting fours. After a three run over from Harvey, Averis returned for Hardinges. His second ball, a full toss, had Langford-Smith caught at long-off. 179-8-34. Langford-Smith's 34 came off 39 balls with a six and two fours. The stand put on 61 in 67 balls, 34 to Langford-Smith and 28 to Gillespie. This stand, as it turned out, won the match.

Gillespie and Saqlain put on 10 in 14 balls - all singles - before Saqlain was caught at extra cover with eight balls left. 189-9-5. The 10th wicket did not fall although McCoubrey had to face six of the eight balls and Gillespie was dropped off a low chance on the mid wicket boundary.

No praise can be too high for Gillespie who was in for 23.2 overs. Coming in at 96 for five he saw the score doubled while making 41 from 66 balls, and his only boundary was a six. 24 of his 41 came in singles and it was essential that he did not get out. Gloucester used six bowlers. The opening bowlers bowled 10 each and one of them, Averis, was the most successful with 4 for 17. The two run outs were a black mark from the Irish point of view.

Adshead, who has kept wicket for ECB against Ireland, and Weston began for Gloucester at 2.40 p.m. Johnston and McCoubrey were the bowlers. Johnston's first over had three wides. In his second over Adshead hit 2-4-2 off successive balls, but the final two was a dropped catch by Langford-Smith at deep cover. A bad start got worse in Johnston's next over. Adshead had another life, dropped by Botha at second slip.

Fours were plentiful. After 10 overs 52 was up and each batsman had hit three fours. Then in over 11 (Johnston) Adshead was caught at slip by Morgan. 52-1-24. With Harvey in Weston did not long survive his opening partner. Botha replaced McCoubrey and in his second over (14th) Weston was caught at the wicket by Bray. 63-2-21. New Zealand Test player Spearman was next. 11 runs were put on but in Botha's next over the newcomer was lbw. 77-3-9. Taylor joined Harvey who hit a six and a four in Botha's fourth over. Langford-Smith had earlier replaced Johnston. The first ball of Langford-Smith's fourth over saw Harvey square drive to Joyce at cover. 89-4-20. Gidman joined Taylor in a 35 run stand in eight overs. Saqlain and Afridi now bowled in tandem. 100 was up in over 22 and Afridi's first over was a maiden to Gidman.

Saqlain bowled a no ball to Taylor in over 26. He hit it for four to mid wicket. Next ball was a "free hit". It was short and was sent over square leg for six. So effectively one legal ball had cost 12 runs, the no ball itself being worth two runs. The first ball of the next over (27th) had Gidman cutting without foot movement and he was caught at the wicket. 124-5-5. Windows joined Taylor and 11 runs were added in five overs. Windows had the benefit of another no ball from Saqlain. The cost in this case was four runs. After six overs (nought for 32) Saqlain was replaced by McCallan. Many believed this to be a mistake. It was not!! As McCallan came to bowl Gloucester needed 59 runs to win in 19 overs with five wickets in hand. Two balls later they had only three wickets in hand. McCallan's first ball had Taylor LBW on the back foot and his second ball bowled Hardinges. 135-7-0.

An Irish win now seemed on the cards as Ball played out a double wicket maiden from McCallan. Gloucester now depended on Windows, a good batsman. In the next over, however, Afridi squared up Windows and had him lbw. 139-8-7. Lewis came in and three maidens followed. Then, in the 37th over, Afridi struck again. Lewis was bowled. 141-9-0. The end came off the last ball of the 38th over. Ball hit a four but Averis drove at McCallan and was caught at extra cover, appropriately by Afridi. A famous victory was Ireland's. The spinners, McCallan and Afridi were rampant. In seven overs the last five wickets had fallen for 11 runs. McCallan bowled four of these with figures of 4-3-5-3. Afridi in the other 3 overs had figures of 3-3-0-2. His overall figures were 8-6-4-3. There were 12 overs to spare when the game ended.

There were no Man-of-the-Match awards this year. Had there been, this writer would have named Gillespie. Without his 41 runs and Langford-Smith's 34 (they having come together at 118 for seven) the bowlers would not have had a Gloucester total that would have given them the chance they had.

The Gloucester officials doled out great hospitality to the Irish supporters. They, and the Gloucester supporters, were very graceful and generous in defeat. The clapped the Irish bus out of the ground on its way to Cardiff for the match against Glamorgan on the next day. Could a double be achieved?