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Match Report
Ian Callender

It could have been a slaughter but this time Ireland refused to go down without a fight as the records tumbled at the Rose Bowl.

Hampshire posted their highest ever total at the ground they moved to in 2001 and Sean Ervine's 167 not out is the best individual score. For the second time in four matches Ireland conceded in excess of 300 but for 42 overs Ireland were ahead of the county's run rate. The man responsible was Kevin O'Brien who hit a memorable 94 from 75 balls with eight fours and six towering maximums. He even had the audacity to attempt to bring up his century with a six but he got too far underneath it and was caught at long-on.

It was a supreme act of defiance by O'Brien after former England paceman Dominic Cork had ripped out the other four members of Ireland's top five with a brilliant spell of bowling. In his second over, Jeremy Bray mistimed a pull to mid-wicket and Reinhard Strydom played on. Paul Stirling, due to sit an A-level the next day - was bowled in his fifth over and nine balls later Andrew White was given out leg before although that looked suspiciously high. Still, after six overs he had figures of four for 10, while the three bowlers used at the other end conceded 66. O'Brien, in partnership with Cusack, eventually saw Cork off after seven overs and Kevin went on his merry way, bringing up his 50 in just 39 balls with seven fours and two sixes.

However, once O'Brien was fifth out at 160, in the 28th over, the batting just wasn't good enough to maintain the momentum with Trent Johnston's the crucial wicket, caught at mid-on from a ball he was aiming through the off for just one.

Ireland had never taken more than six Hampshire wickets in the three previous one-day games between the teams but neither had they conceded so many runs without taking a wicket. The unbroken third wicket stand of 260 was a Hampshire record and by 51 the highest by anyone against Ireland, beating the 23-year-old liaison between Peter Willey and Davi d Gower for Leicestershire at Grace Road.

Yet, when Trent Johnston and Alex Cusack were bowling in the first half of the innings, Ireland were more than satisfied. Johnston, playing his first game since the World Cup Qualifying final in Centurion, four weeks ago, proved what he had been telling National Coach Phil Simmons for the last fortnight, that he was fit and raring to go. Once again he bowled his 10 overs off the reel and although he didn't manage a wicket, he conceded only 30 runs, more than a handful of those off the edge, through the vacant slips.

Cusack conceded 12 off his first two overs but then hit back with a wicket maiden as he had John Crawley caught at mid-wicket. Ireland then enjoyed their best period of the innings with not one boundary between the 17th and 27th over, when Hampshire brought up the 100. It was the calm before th e storm, however, and with their eyes in Ervine, the Zimbabwean, and Carberry, the Englishman, who finished 121 not out, took the Ireland bowing apart.

Peter Connell can do a job with the new ball but he cannot stand the heat when the batsmen are on top at the end - his last three overs went for 48 - and Kevin O'Brien just doesn't do second spells. When he was brought back against Worcestershire his two overs went for 21, against Notts at Trent Bridge it was two overs for 29 and here it was three overs for 31.

At the moment Regan West is not even doing first spells. Until a ball from Andrew White went through wicket-keeper Fintan McAllister's legs, the slow left armer had bowled the only four wides of the innings and was never in any sort of control. Kyle McCallan, who had to bowl when he didn't want to, ultimately went for over six an over but, despite the carnage, Reinhardt Strydom's left arm was, mysteriously, left unused. Unsurprisingly, the fielding also wilted with the last ball of the Notts innings summing up the display, the ball dropping just inside the boundary and O'Brien did not even attempt to take the catch.

Ireland can only hope for better in their last Friends Provident match at Worcester.