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Ireland International Matches Database
Match Report
Derek Scott

This match was played three days after that against Gloucester at the same venue and in the same bleak conditions. There was no sun and it was very cold but there were slightly more people present than there had been three days previously. Ireland put up a better show than they had done against Gloucester. Put in they got 227-5, took two early Essex wickets but Irani and Bopara, who have both played for England at some level, batted too well and put on 180 from 201 balls to virtually win the match.

For Ireland Botha was still on the injury list. Bray was rested to give Carroll a game. After 53 successive matches McCallan could not play due to a family death. Roger Whelan, medium fast bowler from Railway Union was given his first cap after a long period of waiting in the wings. Johnston would play for Railway Union in 2007 so four players from this club played in this match. The pitch was slow but the bounce was reasonable.

Porterfield opened with Carroll, who may do better down the order. Nel, South African Test fast bowler, opened the bowling with the medium-fast Napier. Nel's second and third overs were maidens and, in between, Porterfield hit Napier for two fours, one straight and one to mid-wicket. Carroll was first out. In over 10 he drove half-heartedly at a wide ball from Napier and was well caught low at cover. 21-1-7. Ryder came in and watched Porterfield hit three more fours in overs 12 and 13 by means of straight drive, leg glance and late cut. In a stand of 22 in 30 balls, Ryder only faced nine before he was bowled off stump, attempting to drive at the medium pace of Bopara who had replaced Nel. 43-2-2. This was in over 17. Kevin O'Brien was next. Pakistan's Test leg-spinner Kaneria (Essex's second overseas player) came on for Napier for over 18 in which over the 50 came up. Porterfield was lucky with a snicked four off Bopara in over 19 but got a better four, straight, in over 21. Two balls later with a two to square leg he went to 50 out of 69 from 74 balls and no less than nine fours. O'Brien now began to open up and get more of the strike. In Bopara's last over, the 22nd, he hit a four over mid-on. Dutch international ten Doeschate came on for Bopara and O'Brien hit a fine leg side four in over 25, after which, at the halfway mark, the score was 88. A quiet period followed but 100 was up in over 29.

The first ball of over 30, bowled by Kaneria, nearly accounted for O'Brien who gave a difficult chance to the bowlers left. O'Brien was 23 and two balls later he swept a four to fine leg. He hit ten Doeschate for two successive fours in over 31. Then, for over 32, off-spinner Middlebrook replaced Kaneria. O'Brien lunged at the last ball of this over and was smartly stumped by former English Test wicket-keeper Foster. 117-3-37. O'Brien hit five fours in his 46 balls. The ever reliable Gillespie arrived for over 33. This was his 122nd cap taking him into second place among the most capped players behind McCallan (164) but passing DA Lewis (121). Nel came back for a three over spell and Middlebrook bowled an eight over stint. Porterfield continued his spate of four hitting, striking three in four overs in this period. Bopara returned for Nel, in over 39, and 150 was up in over 40. It now remained to see how Ireland would cope with the last 10 overs as only three wickets were down. The 30 over score was 106 so this should be doubled, plus some "slog" bonus.

Unfortunately at this juncture there were two quick setbacks in over 41, bowled by Bopara, and over 43, for which Kaneria came back. Porterfield looked destined for a fourth century, he was 87 in over 40, to bring him on par with RH Lambert, SJS Warke, DA Lewis and AR Dunlop. It was not to be. He was caught at short extra cover. 166-4-88. He faced 134 balls with 12 fours. This was more than half his runs and more than he had ever scored in the three centuries. His consolation, however, was that when he had reached 82 he became the 45th player to score 1000 runs for Ireland. He did so in 30 innings, the equal of Morgan who had done so earlier in the year in Nairobi and only Masood, in 29 innings, was quicker than either.

Johnston came in and there was hope of one of his quick scoring innings. He faced only two balls before he played an awful heave shot at Kaneria and was bowled. 174-5-1. White joined Gillespie with 45 balls left. To give them their due, they made good use of them scoring 53 runs, 46 came off the bat, Gillespie 21 and White 25. In over 46, bowled by Middlebrook, Gillespie had successive fours, one a "pick up" to mid-wicket and the next a reverse sweep. In the next over, Kaneria's last, Gillespie had a four to square leg to bring 200 up. In the last three overs, two of them bowled by Nel and one by Napier, White hit a four in each, two to fine leg and a slash to extra cover. In the last over Gillespie was dropped at short mid-wicket, low and diving to the left. Gillespie ended with 47 not out, off 53 balls and with five fours, while White ended with 25 off 25 balls and three fours. After the 63 all out against Gloucestershire, this was a respectable show. Essex used six bowlers. Only two of them bowled 10 overs, Nel 0-38 and Kaneria 1-33. Middlebrook took a wicket but was expensive, conceding 44 runs in eight overs. Bopara gave up one run less in his eight overs but he took two wickets. In all 25 fours were hit. 227 might have been more if Porterfield was there at the end and if Johnston had not failed. 73 runs came in the last 10 overs.

The Essex's reply began at 2:30 p.m. with their captain, Irani, opening with current English Test player, the left-handed Cook. Hayward and Langford-Smith were the bowlers and they used two slips. Cook hit each bowler for four, one over cover, from a short ball, and a pull. He was also caught at cover off a high full toss which was called a wide. In over six Langford-Smith had Cook lbw to a ball which kept low. 22-1-14. Pettini, who was having a good season, cut his first ball for four. Then, in over seven, Irani had three successive fours off Hayward, back foot drive to extra cover, a "pick up" shot to mid-wicket and a shot to square leg. Then, first ball of the next over, he hit Langford Smith for a "pick up" six to square leg. The fifth ball of this over saw Pettini clip the ball to mid-on where new cap Whelan had no difficulty with a lobbed ball. 46-2-4.

There ended Ireland's success for a further 33 overs. Bopara joined his captain and a stand of 180 in 201 deliveries ensued. Indeed Essex won with almost 9 overs to spare. An Irani four in over 10 brought up 50. Another four followed in Johnston's second over (he had replaced Hayward). Then Whelan had his first bowl for Ireland. His first ball beat Bopara but successive fours followed. In Johnston's next over each batsman got a four but Irani's was a snick. Bopara may have offered a chance at the wicket when 12 off Johnston. A quiet period followed and Johnston's fourth over was a maiden. White replaced Whelan (two overs for 10 runs) and it can be said at this point that McCallan's bowling was missed. White's third over was a maiden and in his fourth and last over, the 22nd, 100 was up.

O'Brien replaced White and in over 24 Irani's 50 came up off 65 balls, with six fours. For over 25 Whelan came back for Johnston and Irani hit two successive fours, to mid-wicket and over the bowler's head. In over 27 Bopara hit successive fours off Whelan, to square and fine leg. The 25 over score was 122. Langford Smith returned for O'Brien (3-0-24-0) for over 30 and Bopara hit a four over the bowler's head and three balls later a six to long-on which brought up his 50 off 65 balls, with a six and eight fours. Hayward came back for Whelan and Bopara hit him for successive fours in over 35. After two overs from Langford Smith, White returned and bowled to the finish. 200 was up in over 36. After two Hayward overs Whelan came back and, in over 39, Bopara hit him for a six over long-off. In over 41, with a two, Bopara went to 101 in 99 balls, with two sixes and 12 fours. Two balls later he was lbw on the back foot giving Whelan his first Irish wicket. Bopara scored his 101 at exactly 1 run per ball. 226-3-101. Foster, the ex-England wicketkeeper, came in with two runs needed to win. In White's next over, the 42nd, a single to Irani and a wide saw Essex to victory. Irani finished on 90 not out off 124 balls with two sixes and 11 fours.

Ireland had fielded well. Six bowlers were used, and Langford Smith took the early two wickets, but conceded 44 runs in seven overs. Whelan's wicket came at a cost of 54 runs in nine overs. Johnston and White were the least expensive. Between them they conceded 58 runs in 16.3 overs.

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