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Match Report
Derek Scott

On a very hot day before quite a good crowd Ireland put on a respectable show which should have been better. Ireland won the toss, batted and Porterfield and Carroll had 55 up for the first wicket. It became at one point 104-2 but 132-4 in over 38 became 175 all out with three overs not used.

Ireland's Ed Joyce opened for Middlesex and made 45, the highest score for them, and another of our own, Eoin Morgan, finished the match with four wickets down in over 38. There was to be no repeat of the Curry/Cronje win over Middlesex in 1997. In eight matches against Middlesex, the first in 1966, that 1997 win has to be measured against seven defeats. For Ireland Botha and Langford-Smith were still injured. Bray was rested but he did play for The Hills the previous day in a 60 over cup match and had also played during the previous week for Europe in a 50 over match against MCC. Dominic Joyce was recalled (he had last played against England in 2006) as was Carroll (who had not played against Canada). The now Irish qualified Alex Cusack, an Australian, made his debut. He is an all-rounder from Clontarf and he replaced White. In all four of the team played against Middlesex at Lords in 2006 while Middlesex had six who played in that match. Between both sides it was quite a turnover in 12 months. The Middlesex two non-qualified players were Vaas, the Sri Lankan opening bowler and Kartik, the Indian slow left-arm bowler. The Joyce brothers appeared on opposite teams.

Porterfield and Carroll began slowly on a slow pitch to the bowling of Vaas and the medium paced Keegan. Each bowler bowled a maiden in the first five overs at which point only seven runs were on the board. The first three fours all came from Porterfield. Murtagh, at medium pace, replaced Keegan for over 10 and Carroll then hit three fours in one over, to third man, a square drive and an off glance. Seven in five overs became 38 in 10. Then Porterfield pulled a four and snicked another one so that 50 was up after 12 overs. Kartik replaced Vaas and struck in his second over, the 15th. His arm ball beat Carroll on the back foot. 55-1-22. Joyce was next but saw little of the strike until he got off the mark with a two in over 19. Vaas came back for Murtagh for one over. Then Joyce hit Kartik for a four and two and then was caught by his brother at silly mid-off, a bat pad catch which many initially had thought was lbw. 78-2-9.

O'Brien came in and, in nine overs, 26 runs were put on, mostly in singles, but O'Brien did hit off-spinner Shah for a six in over 29 over mid-wicket. Test player Dalrymple came on with his off-spin for over 24. Over 25 was a maiden and the score at its end was 78, 40 coming in the last 15 overs. O'Brien fell to Dalrymple in over 32 lofting him to long-on who did not have to move to effect the catch. 104-3-12. Gillespie was lbw next ball. He moved across his wicket and missed. 104-4-0. This, in fact, turned out to be Gillespie's last match for Ireland. The next scheduled match against Glamorgan was in fact washed out and, prior to selection of the party to play ODI's against India and South Africa, Gillespie announced his retirement from representative cricket. He had played 124 matches, becoming the second most capped player for Ireland and the most capped player from the North West.

Cusack joined Porterfield for over 33. The latter had gone to his 50 in over 29, off 83 balls with six fours. It was his third successive 50. He and Cusack steadied the ship and put on 28 in seven overs. In over 37 Porterfield had an escape when he was 66. Mid-on, diving to his right, could not hold the catch off Kartik. Porterfield did not, however, profit from the miss. Dalrymple changed ends and came back for over 39. To his fifth ball, Porterfield jumped down the pitch, missed and was stumped. 132-5-68. Porterfield's innings lasted 117 balls and contained six fours. Once again he had played well but could not lift his rate. His sixth and last four had come in over 20. Two overs later, the 41st, Wilson pushed at Dalrymple and was caught and bowled. 136-6-1.

Johnston entered at number eight and he really should come in much earlier. With his hitting power he should have a maximum number of overs available to him. In over 44, Dalrymple's last, Cusack hit a six over wide mid-wicket and two balls later Johnston's first runs were four which was misfielded at long-off. Off the first ball of the next over, bowled by Shah, Johnston hit a six over mid-wicket. Kartik came back to replace Dalrymple and disaster struck off his second ball. Cusack played to the offside. A single was taken then a second run was called. Dalrymple, from the cover region, threw down the bowlers wicket with a direct hit and Johnston was run out. 162-7-14. Cusack came down the pitch and swung at the next ball and was stumped. 162-8-29. His 29 had come in 37 balls, with one six and one four. It was a promising debut, despite it's inglorious end.

McCallan and Fourie were now together but the stand only lasted six balls. Vaas came back for Shah for over 46. McCallan was lbw to the third ball. 163-9-0. Fourie made 10 of the 12 put on for the last wicket hitting Murtagh for two fours in over 47 but the last ball of the over was a full toss which Fourie missed and had his leg stump disturbed. 175 was the tally but more should have been done against the three Middlesex spinners who bowled 28 out of the 47 overs. 95 runs admittedly were scored off them but they did take seven of the nine wickets which fell to bowlers. Kartik took 3-20 in 10 overs and Dalrymple 4-39 in his 10 overs. Even Shah, who is very much an occasional bowler from Middlesex, only went for 36 in his eight overs.

Middlesex started at 2:30 p.m. with Joyce and Compton. The latter is the grandson of the great Denis. In just over two hours and 37 overs it was all over with a six wicket win for Middlesex. The first three partnerships were all over 40.

The opening bowling came from Fourie and Hayward. Compton started with a five in the second over, four of the runs coming from the boundary overthrow. In the first nine overs Joyce hit four fours and in 10 overs the score was 46. Johnston replaced Hayward for over 11 and bowled a maiden. Fourie went one better in over 12. Compton walked in front and was lbw. 44-1-20. The Middlesex captain, Smith, came in and hit a four off his fourth ball to bring up 50. Cusack replaced Fourie for over 14 and Smith pulled and snicked two fours, the snick going close to his leg stump. He had a further lucky escape in Johnston's next over. Joyce at slip got one hand to a snick but could not hold it. Then Smith hit four fours in Cusack's second and last over, his two overs costing 29 runs. McCallan replaced him.

Smith, having hit nine fours in 24 balls, was out to Johnston off his 25th ball. He was bowled trying to square cut. 93-2-41. Shah was next and he hit three fours from his first nine balls and 100 came up in over 21. McCallan slowed the scoring rate. Hayward bowled three overs for eight runs in place of Johnston. Then Fourie returned at that end. Joyce hit the first ball for four but mis timed an on-drive off the second ball and was caught at mid-on by Hayward. 133-3-45. Joyce had hit seven fours but his innings had lasted for 90 balls. McCallan bowled two maidens, one to Shah and one to Morgan. In over 33 Fourie took the fourth and last wicket to fall. Shah hit a four off the first ball. Two balls later a floater slower ball had him lbw. 140-4-27. Dalrymple joined Morgan. In over 34, McCallan, Dalrymple hit three successive fours to bring up the 150. In the over 37 Morgan hit what was initially signalled as a four but the umpires subsequently amended it to signal six. The scores were level after 37 overs. Carroll was given a bowl. Morgan hit his first ball for four to finish the match.

Ireland had fielded well. Six bowlers were used and only Hayward and Cusack were expensive. The best of the bowlers was Fourie who took 3-41 in his 10 overs.

This match, in fact, turned out to be the end of Ireland's Friends Provident series of 2007. The scheduled last match was to be against Glamorgan at Stormont on the following Wednesday, 10th of June. However, very heavy rain in Belfast on the previous day, coupled with further rain on the day of the match, ensured that no play at all took place. Ireland ended their tournament with three points, the same number as last year. This time, however, they came from three abandoned matches and there was no win as there had been in 2006.

Castle Avenue, Clontarf