At the suggestion of Lord Cadogan, the Lord Lieutenant, a team representing practically the full strength of Ireland paid a visit to England. Although only four matches were played, all of which were awarded first-class status (the first Irish matches to be so designated) the doings of the 11 aroused great interest. The Australians being in England it is perhaps as well that those who arranged the programme leaned rather to the side of modesty than ambition, but so uniformly excellent was the cricket shown that no doubt could be felt as to the ability of the team to hold their own with opponents of ordinary strength. In the four matches played the Irishmen beat London County and Cambridge University by 238 runs and 58 runs respectively; played a drawn game with the MCC at Lords; and lost to Oxford University by 62 runs after being set 429 to get to win.
Particularly strong in batting, the 11 proved themselves a body of fine free hitters. Browning, who on all occasions showed very sound defence, being the most careful, and perhaps the most polished batsmen on the side. Harrington and Ross, the latter of whom, on the strength of his success, had the honour of appearing for the Gentleman against the Players at Lords, clearly carried off the bowling honours, Ross taking 25 wickets and Harrington 21. Both right-handed the two men were not at all dissimilar as regards delivery, but whereas Harrington was decidedly slow, Ross was medium pace. Sir TC O'Brien, who played a splendid innings of 167 against Oxford, captained the side with much skill and judgement. At first nine men were nominated to the team. They were; Sir TC O'Brien, AD Comyn, RH Lambert, SD Lambert, TC Ross, LH Gwynn, W Harrington, B Hamilton and FH Browning. Of these Hamilton was unable to travel. A trial match was then held to fill the remaining three places. JM Meldon, who did well in the trial, got one of these places while RE Adair and O Andrews, neither of whom played in the trial, got the other two places. TA Harvey and SC Smith were the substitutes of whom only Harvey was able to travel. LH Gwynn was only able to remain for the first two matches and Harvey took his place in the remaining matches.
WG Grace, WL Murdoch and LO S Poidevin all played for London County. The West Indian, CA Olliviere also played but he injured himself when fielding on the first day. The Irish captain allowed FE Smith, the ex-Surrey professional, to play instead. There were only three hours play on the first day during which Ireland, put in to bat, made 207-8. The game did not begin until 12.50 p m, and there was a further break of over an hour at the lunch interval. The wicket was slow and the good attendance saw some excellent cricket from the Irishmen. The best innings came from RH Lambert and the steadiest was FH Browning. The start was slow with May and Grace bowling to AD Comyn and JM Meldon. At 20, Comyn was bowled by Grace for 14. RH Lambert came in and played Grace with ease, his leg side strokes being brilliant. The slow bowler Bell came on and at 48 he got two wickets. Meldon was stumped for a patient 14 and Lucius Gwynn was bowled without scoring. Then came lunch and more rain. Lambert and Browning were now together and 50 came up in as many minutes. Browning was badly missed by Olliviere at square leg. Lambert was playing very well in spite of the wet outfield. When he was 41 Lambert, too, was missed, by Poidevin at slip off Bell.
100 appeared in 90 minutes. W Smith came on to bowl and Lambert was stumped off his second ball, a rebound off the wicket-keeper's pads. He had made a capital 43 in 50 minutes. The partnership put on 57 runs. The score was now 105-4. Ross came in and hit well and Browning was batting brilliantly. At 135 Ross was out to a fine catch by Norman off Bell. He made 24 out of 30 added for the fifth wicket. SD Lambert also did very well, but the pitch was now drying and the bowling was becoming more difficult to play. In spite of this both batsmen forced the pace and appeared well set. However, at 170 Lambert was caught off Dyas for 26. O'Brien was bowled by Bell for 10 and seven batsmen were out for 184. 11 runs later Browning's fine innings came to an end. He was well held by Powell-Williams off Bell for 49. He had battled grandly for 2 ¼ hours and helped to break London County's much varied attack. At the close of play the score was 207-8 with Adair 13 and Andrews 6. The fielding had been good despite a run rate of 70 an hour.
By the end of the second day, Ireland had the match in its grasp. After making 241 London County had been dismissed for only 92. To this lead of 149 a further 58 had been added for the loss of three second innings wickets. London County saved the follow-on by one run only. It would have been enforced. The wicket helped the bowlers during the day but Harrington and Ross created a great impression with their bowling and they were backed by magnificent Irish fielding. As the weather was again poor the crowd was small but those who came were surprised by the high standard of the Irish cricketers. Slight rain was falling when Adair and Andrews continued the innings. Adair was run out almost at once for 16 but Andrews hit freely and the last pair added 29 before Harrington was caught at mid-off for 6. Andrews made 29 not out and the whole batting performance was most creditable. Bell took 6-88 in 29.2 overs, figures which would have been better if all the catches offered had been held.
Grace and Murdoch began for London County at 12.40 p.m. to the bowling of Harrington and RH Lambert. The innings was extraordinary in that the first pair put on 75 runs and yet the team were all out for 92. Grace and Murdoch played carefully and the fielding was brilliant in the extreme. 50 came up in 55 minutes and at lunch the score was 75 with no wicket down. Due to rain the game did not begin again until 3.45 p.m. The 10 wickets then fell in 50 minutes for 17 runs! Harrington's first ball after the interval bowled Murdoch for 41. Poidevin, after scoring a single, was bowled by Ross. At 80, 2 more wickets fell. W Smith was beautifully caught by O'Brien at cover point off Ross who also bowled Norman for nought. The fifth and sixth wickets fell at 81, Harrington bowling Powell-Williams for a "Duck" and then Ross bowled "the Champion" for a good 32. Brooks, after scoring four, was bowled by Harrington at 86. At 91 Bell was caught and bowled by Ross and Harrington clean bowled Dyas. May was caught behind the wicket at 92 off Harrington. This ended the innings.
Harrington bowled throughout the innings, taking 5-26 in 28.2 overs with 15 maidens. Ross also took 5-26 but he only bowled 14 overs. They bowled magnificently and were supported by superb fielding. May's single had saved the follow-on so, leading by 149 runs, Comyn and Meldon opened to F Smith and Bell. At 19, May, a young amateur fast bowler, came on and in his first over bowled both Comyn and Meldon, each of whom scored 10. RH Lambert, after scoring a single, was also bowled by May. Browning joined Gwynn and together they brought the score to 58-3 by the close of play. Gwynn's defensive play was a feature of the last portion of the day's play. At the end of the day he was 23 and Browning 14.
Ireland went on to a 238 run victory on the third day and completely outplayed London County at all points. The early-morning weather was good but at the start of play a cold wind had sprung up and the light was dull. Both batsmen played carefully but runs came steadily, especially from Gwynn who repeatedly drove Grace to the boundary. Browning stonewalled while Gwynn went to his 50 after batting for an hour in all. He was badly missed when 48 by Norman in the long field. 100 went up at 1.07. FE Smith came on to bowl for the first time in the match but Gwynn scored easily off the left-hander. The bowling from now on was switched quite a lot. May was now on and he bowled very fast. At 117 he bowled Browning for 25. He and Gwynn had put on 96 for the fourth wicket. Ross was next but after making five he was well held by FE Smith at mid-off off May. SD Lambert was missed by Norman in the outfield before he had scored and celebrated by hitting Bell for two fours. Lambert got 20 before he too was bowled by May. May had now taken all the six wickets that had fallen, five of them clean bowled. Andrews scored nine and on his being bowled by Grace the innings was declared closed at 163-7, leaving Gwynn 81 not out. This innings was numerically and intrinsically the best of the match. It lasted less than two hours and included nine fours.
London County required 313 to win in 225 minutes. They never looked like getting them. Ross and Harrington opened the bowling to Grace and Murdoch. Both were defensive but run getting was difficult. After half an hour the score was eight and, at this point, Murdoch was bowled by Harrington for four. The fielding was again very good and Grace could not get the ball away. Lunch was now taken. Poidevin was stumped for five off Ross at 15. W Smith only lasted for two overs before Harrington had him caught and then Grace was caught by Browning behind the wicket off Ross for 19. Norman was bowled by Ross for three and Powell-Williams was lbw to Harrington for 12. As before the tail collapsed. At 54 RH Lambert came on for Harrington and Andrews soon relieved Ross. At 63 Brooks was bowled by Lambert for five. Bell was caught by RH Lambert off Andrews who also dismissed Dyas, caught at point by O'Brien. The last wicket, May, fell to a grand catch by Harrington off Lambert. This was a complete triumph for Ireland who thus had made a fine start to their tour. The feature of the game was Ireland's work in the field. Ross and Harrington again had very good bowling figures. Ross had figures of 20-10-31-3 and Harrington 18-7-22-3.