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Match Report
Derek Scott

With this match Ireland's first venture into the Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy as a nine match league format came to an end. Somerset had been targeted as a possible win. At the half-way mark, this looked a distinct possibility. Somerset never really got into a very high gear. In 20 overs they were 73-2 and at 25 overs 95-3. At 30 overs it was 123-3. This was the point from which a doubling of the score is a normal guess. Somerset did, in fact, almost do this but lost four wickets from over 41 to the end, with the last 10 overs putting on 64. 10 was the most scored in any one over, and this was achieved in the 1st, 8th, and 37th overs. The Irish fielding was very good despite giving Langer two lives before he fell for only 26, off 42 balls, on his third chance. None of the seven bowlers gave away more than five runs per over, with four of them bowling nine overs each. Botha was the main wicket taker, 3-32, and gave up only 32 runs in his nine overs. Ireland were optimistic in going into bat but gave a poor batting display. They had scored 44 runs in 12 overs for the first wicket, but batted poorly from then on. Only one other stand reached 30 and Ireland were all out in the 42nd over.

Somerset were without their captain, Blackwell, a one-day international who made his Test debut against India during the Winter, and Caddick, a fast bowler, with 63 Tests. Both of these were injured. An Australian one-day international, White, captained the team and Langer, the left-handed Australian opening Test batsman, was making his debut. Other Test players were Johnson, fast bowler with three Tests, including a great Test debut against New Zealand, 6-33, in 2003 and Willoughby, a left arm fast bowler who had played 2 Tests for South Africa. After 17 successive matches, and 66 in all, Ireland dropped DI Joyce after his hat-trick of noughts. Langford-Smith was also left out. In came Porterfield and Wilson, the latter to keep wicket. Afridi and Saqlain were not available so Ireland played 11 qualified players. This match was Bray's 50th cap. Two previous matches had been played against Somerset, the last a Benson and Hedges Cup match at Taunton in 1997. Parsons, Somerset, and McCallan, Ireland, were the only survivors.

The day was sunny but the breeze had a chilly edge to it. The pitch was beige coloured but played slowly which may have militated against Somerset really putting on the pressure. Langer and Wood started to P Mooney and Johnston. Mooney's first ball was a no-ball and Langer drove a four to extra cover from the "free hit". Two balls later he repeated the stroke. He then played and missed twice in an eventful 10 run first over. In Mooney's next over, a wide went to the boundary and in his third and last over of the spell the batsmen ran three on another wide. Johnston was bowling well and in his third over Wood nibbled and was caught at the wicket by Wilson. 33-1-11. Suppiah, a 22 year old Malaysian, was next. Botha came on for P Mooney and only two runs were scored in the next two overs. Then Langer hit Botha for a straight four and was dropped by Johnston at slip in his next over. Langer was 19 and the score 43. In Johnston's next over, the 12th, Langer drove to Gillespie at short extra cover. The fielder dived to his right, got both hands to the ball, but could not hold on. Langer was now 20 and the score 45.

50 came up in over 13. J Mooney relieved Johnston and Suppiah hit a four to long-off. Langer fell to Botha in the next over, the 15th, which must have been a relief to both Johnston and Gillespie! The ball nicked the top of the bat and Wilson had his second victim. 58-2-26. 58 in 15 overs of restricted field placings was a good performance for Ireland. White joined Suppiah and a quiet period follow. 22 runs came in six overs. J Mooney had replaced Johnston, 6-0-17-1,

K O'Brien replaced Botha, 6-1-13-1, for over 19 and P Mooney returned for his brother for over 20. O'Brien gave up a boundary wide in his second over but his next ball cut back and kept a bit low to bowl Suppiah. 80-3-19. K Parsons joined his captain and by the 25 over mark the score had advanced to 95, all in singles except a big six to long-on by White off O'Brien's fourth and last over. McCallan came on for O'Brien and in his second over the was a close call for a run out against Parsons at the bowler's end as the batsmen ran two. O'Brien relieved P Mooney for one over in which eight runs were scored. This was the 30th over and the score was 123. White bowled over 32. He was the seventh bowler used and, in his fifth match of 2006, it was his first bowl. Three overs later White lifted his back foot to McCallan and was stumped. 138-4-38. This innings lasted 60 balls and contained one six. The stand was worth 58 in 14 overs. The very promising Hildreth, 21 years of age from Millfield School, was next. A brisk stand ensued, 38 runs in 37 balls off McCallan and White. Three fours were hit but there were singles off almost every ball. 150 was up in over 37.

The fifth wicket fell in over 41. Parsons took one step down to McCallan and was caught at mid-on. 176-5-45. This was McCallan's 150th wicket for Ireland in his 139th match. Parsons' 45 was the top score of the innings. He faced 61 balls and hit three fours. Durston, another Millfield School product, was next. Again there was a brisk stand, 36 runs in six overs, from over 41 to 47. Ireland, however, at this stage of the innings, would have been happy to only concede one run a ball. The batsmen ran fast and converted singles in twos. 200 came up in over 45. Botha and Johnston returned for the last six overs in which 43 runs were scored and three more wickets fell. Durston hit a four to mid-wicket in Botha's first over back, the 45th, but was out in Botha's next over, the 47th. Porterfield, running from long-off, took a very good catch in front of the screen. 212-6-14. Gazzard came in but Botha bowled Hildreth in his next over as the batsman sought a big hit. 224-7-36. The 36 came in 41 balls with two fours. Andrew joined Gazzard and hit Johnson for an extra-cover four off the second ball of the last over. The fifth ball bowled Gazzard, another swing and miss. 234-8-7. Johnson came in and hit the last ball square for four to make a total of 238-8. Indicative of the Irish bowling and fielding and of the slow pitch Somerset hit only 14 fours and one six in the innings, although everyone who batted hit at least one except Gazzard.

Ireland sent in Porterfield, he had batted number three against Sussex, to open with Bray. Johnson and Willoughby were the bowlers and the required rate was 4.76 runs per over. Bray hit a four off each bowler and the score was 21 in five overs. Bray hit another four but the rate slowed to 34 in 10 overs. Andrew, quickish right arm replaced Willoughby for the 11th over and Johnson dismissed Bray in the next over. Bray clipped uppishly to short mid-wicket. 44-1-25. Wilson came in at number three which did seem a mistake for someone playing his first innings ever in a limited overs match. He saw Porterfield hit a straight four off Andrew and 50 come up in the same over, the 13th. In the first ball of over 15, bowled by Andrew, Wilson hung out his bat and was comfortably caught at slip. 51-2-1. With Botha in Porterfield did not long survive Wilson. Willoughby replaced Johnson (7-2-9-1) and had Porterfield caught in the second over of his return, the 15th. The catch was low and mid-on held on at the second attempt. 59-3-24. It was Porterfield's first score of 20 in his fourth innings.

Gillespie came in and hit Andrew for successive fours, to fine leg and off the back foot to extra cover. Botha was next to go. He was in for six overs but faced only 14 balls and scored four singles. He drove at Andrew and was bowled leg stump. 73-4-4. Johnston had had a bad run with only 14 runs in his last four innings. He did not break this bad streak. Suppiah, slow left arm, replaced Willoughby for the 22nd over. Johnston pushed his third ball to short mid-wicket. 79-5-4. White came next and a disaster occurred in the next over, the 23rd, bowled by Andrew. Gillespie pulled a long hop to deep square leg and called a second run. Durston's throw to the bowler ran Gillespie out. 80-6-15.

McCallan joined White. Now 159 runs were required from 165 balls with only four wickets in hand. There followed the last stand of the innings, a somewhat forlorn one. The stand was worth 47 runs in 13 overs. Suppiah, White, leg breaks and Parsons, medium pace, did the bowling. 35 of the 47 runs came in singles as the pair tried to restore respectability to the innings. McCallan reverse swept Suppiah for four in over 26. 100 came up in over 29. Parsons came on, to replace Suppiah, in over 34 and McCallan flicked his third ball over the wicket-keeper for four. Two overs later McCallan advanced to Parsons, missed, and was stumped. His 28 was the top score of the innings. 127-7-28. O'Brien was next and he scored 12 of the 20 runs scored with White in 17 balls, including a pulled four off White. White scored all his 24 runs in singles. In trying to break this sequence he was caught at long-off from White's bowling in over 29. It was a good catch by Willoughby running in and taking it low. 147-8-24. This 24 came in 45 balls. O'Brien was out in over 40, bowled by Parsons. He, also, was caught at long-off but the fielder did not have to move. 152-9-16. With 10.2 overs left, and the score at 152, the Mooney brothers were together. In 13 balls they scored 13 runs. Then John was caught, behind the bowler with the fielder running from mid-on.

It had been a sorry display after the good batting display against England. Other that the 23 overs per side match against Kent this was the lowest score in the nine Cheltenham and Gloucester matches, and there were 8.1 overs left to be bowled. Only 10 fours were hit, Bray getting three of them. Somerset used six bowlers. White bowled nine and Willoughby eight. All six took at least one wicket and the most successful was Parsons, the sixth bowler used, with 3-24 in 4.5 overs.

Ireland finished at the bottom of the Cheltenham and Gloucester South League. They had the same on field results as Glamorgan, one win, one abandonment and seven defeats, but on run rate Ireland were below Glamorgan.

Stormont, Belfast