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Match Report
Derek Scott

The "Italian job" did not take very long nor was it taxing. A match which had begun at 11 a.m. was over at 2.40 p.m. after only 45 overs had been bowled. The Netherlands had lost to Scotland the previous day but before the above match started Netherlands were ahead on net run rate. To guard against a defeat by Netherlands in Ireland's last match a good net run rate had to be achieved against Italy and this was done. The 80 runs needed to win were scored in 74 balls, whereas the Irish bowlers only gave up 2.41 runs per over. Morgan had now gone back to Middlesex and Bray had not arrived back from his Sunday working in Ireland. Carroll and P Mooney replaced these two. Johnston and Botha were rested and for them Rankin and K. O'Brien came in. McCallan became captain for the 34th time. Joe Scuderi, the Australian, was now coaching and captaining Italy but he did not play in this match. Bonora, who hails from South Africa, took over the role of captain and decided to bat on winning the toss.

There are were only three double figure partnerships in the Italian innings, 23 for the first wicket, 19 for the third and 17 for the last. The innings lasted 32.4 overs and Ireland used six bowlers, with four of them, the first four used, sharing the wickets. Bonora opened with Perera, a prolific scorer in Italy. P Mooney and Rankin were the opening bowlers. They bowled six overs each and after their 12 overs the score was 48-3. In the first seven overs, seven wides were bowled and both batsmen had hit a four. In the sixth over White, at gully, had dropped Perera, when seven, off Rankin. It was a diving catch to White's right. In his next over Rankin, after a no ball and wide, had Bonora caught low at square leg by Langford-Smith. 23-1-6. Puccio saw out the rest of the over which included another no ball and wide. In P Mooney's next over he had Perera lbw when half forward. 29-2-8.

The left handed Jayasena was number four. He had a busy and incident filled innings. 19 runs were put on with Puccio facing two balls and scoring one run. On the other hand, Jayasena faced 23 balls if five wides are included. He hit two fours and gave two chances. One was to White, one-handed at cover before he scored and, two overs later, a chance to Carroll at second slip which went for four. Rankin was twice the unlucky bowler. The second chance was not expensive as Jayasena was out next ball. He flashed at Rankin and gave N O'Brien the first of what turned out to be six catches. 48-3-14. Wicket-keeper Northcote joined Puccio. Northcote was born in South Africa but holds an Italian passport. His brother, Andy, is playing club cricket in Dublin as a professional and he, also, holds an Italian passport. Langford-Smith replaced P Mooney for over 13 and Puccio gave N O'Brien a low catch diving to his right. 53-4-4.

Zuppiroli joined Northcote and in six overs from Langford-Smith and J. Mooney seven runs were added. The score was now 60, at which point 4 wickets fell in 16 balls without addition, and this extended to five wickets in 26 balls for two runs. The collapse began in over 19 when N O'Brien caught Zuppiroli off Langford-Smith. 60-5-1. In over 20, Northcote edged one wide towards slip. N O'Brien went for it and initially people thought he had caught it. In fact, however, it went under him and was caught by his brother K O'Brien at slip. 60-6-5. Another lifter from Langford-Smith in over 21 accounted for Corbellari, another catch for K O'Brien at second slip. 60-7-0. The last ball of over 22, bowled by J Mooney, had Aloud caught low by N O'Brien, his fourth catch. 60-8-0.

The ninth wicket pair, Crosland and Passaretti, got a single each. Then J Mooney struck again in over 24. Passaretti was caught low to his left by N O'Brien, his fifth victim. 62-9-1. In spite of this extraordinary rapid collapse, the last pair, Crosland and Scarponi, actually survived another nine overs, by nine balls the longest partnership of the innings. McCallan had replaced Langford-Smith for the 23rd over. His second over was a maiden. The sixth and last boundary of the innings was a sweep by Crosland off McCallan in over 29. J Mooney's last over was a maiden and he was replaced with figures of 9-4-5-3. K O'Brien replaced him and P Mooney replaced McCallan for over 33. This change ended the innings. The fourth ball gave N O'Brien his sixth catch moving a few steps to his left to catch Crosland. Six catches by a wicket-keeper equals the Irish record set by PB Jackson for an innings. This was against Scotland at Titwood, Glasgow in the 1984 annual match against Scotland. Ireland used six bowlers and four of them took wickets and none gave up more than four runs per over. The three-wicket takers were Langford-Smith, 3-7 in five overs and J Mooney, 3-5, in nine overs, four of which were maidens. Italy's total of 79 was five runs more than they got at Ayr in the European Championship of 2000.

At 1.45 p.m. Ireland set out to get the 80 runs required as quickly as they could, in order to improve the net run rate. In that calculation loss of wickets does not count. Aloud and Corbellari, two medium pacers, were faced by Porterfield and Carroll. Corbellari bowled the second over. Carroll lunged at his third ball and was caught at the wicket. 4-1-2. Carroll's first two innings have lasted 10 balls for two runs. Then O'Brien joined Porterfield and they had a five over stand which brought 31 runs. They each hit two fours. O'Brien's came off successive balls in over five, bowled by Aloud. Porterfield hit each bowler for fours to square leg. Two balls after the second four, in over seven, he skied to mid-on. 35-2-19. With K O'Brien joining his brother, it was decided not to stop for the lunch break as half the required runs had been scored in just over six overs. In the seventh and eight overs N O'Brien hit two more fours. In bringing 50 up in the ninth over he was dropped at gully, when 24, off Corbellari. Leg spinner Jayasena replaced Corbellari for over 10 and K O'Brien took 14 runs off the over including successive fours, an off drive and a shot to wide mid-on. To the first ball of Jayasena's next over K. O'Brien cut to deep gully who took a good catch diving to his right. 66-3-17. Gillespie came in next with 14 runs required. They were obtained in seven balls. Eight of the 14 came in extras and Gillespie's 4 to mid-wicket off Bonora finished the match in 12.2 overs.

The umpires awarded the Man-of-the-Match Medal to Niall O'Brien for his record equalling six catches allied to 28 not out in 35 balls. This took his International average to 50.69 and his runs to 811 in his 23rd match.