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Match Report
Derek Scott

An unusually large crowd came from Ireland to see this match, and the match against Kent the following day. Some would have come to see Lords for the first time. They saw it in all its splendour, as the day was warm and sunny.

Ireland had the courage to bat on winning the toss. A total of 184 was respectable but, considering the good start by three batsmen, it should have been around 240. Then came our own Ed Joyce and Smith. They put up a sublime display and won the match in half the overs that Ireland took to score their 184. After nine overs Smith stood on 47, Joyce, in 20 balls, had reached seven. In over 20 Joyce overtook Smith at 79 to 75. Joyce ultimately came to 95 and Middlesex needed four to win. Joyce tried for six to achieve both goals, a Middlesex win and his own century, and failed in both. 70 of his 95 came in boundaries. In all he faced 74 balls and scored his last 88 from 54 balls. Smith held back to let the Irish enjoy one of their own. He got to 47 in 34 balls but from then on faced only 33 more balls in his very impressive 81.

Middlesex fielded English Test players Smith and Shah, New Zealand Test player Styris, and the South African Louw, who had previously played for Northants against Ireland. The captain was Ben Hutton, grandson of Len, and N Compton was grandson of Denis. Post the Namibia match, Saqlain and Afridi returned to the Irish team in place of Porterfield and Wilson. Morgan was not allowed to play against his employer, Middlesex, and White, now recovered from injury and released by Northants, replaced him. P Mooney was replaced by his brother J.

On a sunny day, a good pitch, but with a hint of green, and an unexpectedly large crowd Joyce and Bray opened to Keegan (who due to injury played little in 2005) and Louw, both fast medium. Overnight rain made the outfield damp and slow. All went well until the seventh over. Both batsmen hit two fours, Joyce's being off successive balls from Keegan, a clip off his toes and an extra cover drive. Then Bray was caught off a push to mid-wicket to Ed Joyce. 23-1-11. In Keegan's next over, the eighth, Botha, after facing six balls, was caught low at second slip. 25-2-0. Johnston came in and Mohammed Ali, left arm fast medium, replaced Keegan, who had figures of 5-1-12-2. When he was two, and the total 37, Johnston was dropped by the wicketkeeper high to his right in the new bowler's first over. Johnson did not benefit, however. He was run out in the next over, the 12th. He played a ball backward of square. He set off, although probably it was not his call. He was rightly sent back but Joyce's underarm throw hit the stumps with little to aim at. 38-3-3. Afridi played seven balls without scoring. Styris, medium pace, replaced Louw for the 14th over. Joyce hit his first ball for a back foot four through the covers and Afridi hit two fours off successive balls to mid-wicket and extra cover. This brought up 52.

Afridi then hit a straight six off Mohammad Ali and added two more fours in later overs. In over 20, he hit his fourth four and was out next ball, caught by Hutton at mid-off. 78-4-27. This was Afridi's last match as he had been called up by Pakistan. He averaged 25.50 for 128 runs. The fourth wicket stand of 40 was the best of the innings. It came off 47 balls. Gillespie joined Joyce. They had to play carefully and they did. Ed Joyce and then Dalrymple's off breaks were given a spell but the pair put on 31 in just over 11 overs and brought up 100 in over 29. Then, for over 21, occasional bowler Shah came on with his off breaks. Joyce had slowed down and had taken 19 overs to go from 20 to 45. He looked as if he would score a 50 on his first visit to Lord's. The last ball of Shah's over saw him caught at deep short leg position playing a bad shot. 109-5-45. White stayed with Gillespie for five overs while 25 runs were scored. Gillespie got 18 of these including a six into the grandstand in Shah's second and last over.

Keegan came back for a couple of overs but it was Dalrymple who took the next two wickets in successive overs. He caught and bowled White (134-6-7) and then clean bowled McCallan who tried to leg glance him. 138-7-2. 38 overs had been bowled and, now, much depended on Gillespie, who was then 35, and the last three batsman. It was not to be. Mohammad Ali came back followed by Louw, 42nd over. Gillespie added seven more runs, including a four over extra cover, and Louw got him LBW in his first over back, Gillespie hitting across the ball. 148-8-43. Gillespie and Joyce each batted for the same number of balls, 77.

Saqlain and Mooney then gave the end of the innings a bit of a lift, putting on 31 in 29 balls. Then Keegan came back for over 45 and it was he who took the last two wickets. Saqlain went first, in over 47, giving Hutton his third catch at mid-off. 180-9-13. In his next over, the 49th, Mooney was caught when he skied to mid-on. If only Ireland's three players who got "in", Joyce, Afridi and Gillespie, had stayed longer it did seem that a score of 230/240 was possible. The Middlesex bowling, while always good, was not impossible. They, in fact, used seven bowlers. Five of their bowlers took at least one wicket but Keegan was best, with 4-24 in 9.3 overs.

The Middlesex reply was short, 146 balls, brilliant, scintillating and very much crowd pleasing. Ireland's only consolation was that 50 times capped EC Joyce was the star. In an attempt to stem the high powered flow of runs Ireland, in 24 overs, used no less than seven bowlers. Johnston bowled 5, 5 others bowled three or four each. The least expensive was the seventh bowler used, McCallan. In 14 balls he only conceded nine runs.

The innings can be divided into four blocks of six overs. The first pair of bowlers, Johnston and Mooney, bowled nine between them by which time the score was 60. In six overs the score was 35, Joyce having faced 12 balls for four singles and Smith 24 balls for 24 runs, including five fours, and Johnston's third over had cost 14. Langford-Smith and Botha were the next bowlers. Two overs each turned 60 in nine overs into 90 at 13 overs. Joyce came out of his shell. He hit Langford-Smith for three fours and Botha for a straight six. With a four off Botha in over 11, Smith reached 52, in 39 balls, out of 74. 42 of his 52 had come in boundaries

The next pair of bowlers were Afridi and Saqlain. They bowled six overs between them and this was the worst carnage of the innings. 90 in 13 overs became 143 in 19 overs. In 22 balls received from these two bowlers, Joyce went from 27 to 61. In this phase 9 fours were hit, six of them by Joyce. He hit three successive fours in the 19th over, off Saqlain, the first of which took him to 52 out of 134 in 56 balls.

Langford-Smith came back for the 20th over, faced by Joyce. It went 4-4-4-dot-4-2, 22 runs and the most expensive over of the innings. Joyce had now overtaken Smith, 79 runs to the latter's 75. McCallan replaced Langford-Smith for the 21st over and gave up only two singles. Botha bowled the 22nd over and Joyce hit fours off the first three balls. He was now 93 and eight runs were needed to win when McCallan bowled the 23rd over with Smith facing. Smith got off strike first ball but the over only gave up four singles.

Joyce was now 95 and four runs were needed to win. Off Botha's first ball of over 24 Joyce tried for "the double". The six would give him a century and win the match. He tried to achieve this to the short offside boundary, miscued, and gave Johnston a brilliant running catch at wide third man. 181-1-95. Joyce faced 74 balls in 90 minutes with 70 in boundaries, a six and 16 fours. He went from 31, in over 16, to his dismissal in over 24, in 28 balls faced. He had 13 of his 16 fours in those 28 overs. The 28th bowled dismiss them. The other 27 went for 13 fours, 1 three, one 2, 7 singles and five dot balls.

Shah came in to join Smith and the match was won seven balls later, the winning runs coming by means of three singles and a wide. Smith's innings, despite his runaway start, was overshadowed eventually by Joyce but should not be overlooked. He faced 67 balls, seven less than Joyce, and his boundary count in his 81 not out was not far behind Joyce. He hit a six and 13 fours. He certainly held back to give the Irishman the chance of getting his century. He reached 75, off 54 balls, in over 18. From then on to Joyce's dismissal Smith only faced 11 balls and scored four singles.

A veil should be drawn over Ireland's bowling figures other than those of McCallan. However, they were faced by two brilliant batsman in prime form on a good pitch. The Irish fielding held up very well. This was Ireland's eighth match against Middlesex since the first in 1966. Four of these were limited overs competitive matches, including the first ever such played by Ireland, in the Gillette Cup at Lords in 1980, and Ireland's first ever win in such a match, in the Benson and Hedges Cup at Castle Avenue in 1997. The last of the previous seven was at Lord's in 1988. Shah was the lone Middlesex survivor and Ireland's only survivor was McCallan. The latter and Gillespie had played in the famous 1997 win but no one survived from that beaten Middlesex team.