For the 1993 IYT tournament Ireland turned out a powerful looking squad, captained by Gareth O’Meara, that included future internationals Peter Gillespie, Peter Davy, Stephen Ogilby, Mark Patterson, Ryan Eagleson, Gordon Cooke and Gus Joyce. So powerful that room could not be found for Kyle McCallan and Andy Patterson who would both later become senior internationals.
The results were disappointing in that very strong positions against both the hosts and the eventual winners Zimbabwe were not pressed home and that in the game against the Dutch a hopeless position was retrieved only to fall to a one run defeat with a run out from an unlikely direct hit!
The venues for the games were the two pitches at Nykøbing Mors, plus Viborg and Holstebro which were both an hour-long coach trip away.
The location of the ground at Nykøbing, a smallish fishing village, was on a spit of land that enclosed the harbour which meant that while the grounds were well drained the outfields were distinctly sandy and covered with a thick clinging type of grass that was left longer than would be usual at home.
This to a large extent dictated the style of play that was required. Boundaries hit along the ground would be a rarity and were unlikely if the ball bounced more than twice. The coconut matting playing surface rewarded the steady line and length bowling of the Dutch and Danes and also explained their willingness to hit the ball in the air when batting.
The Danish interpretation of what constituted a ‘wide’ came in for debate at the first managers’ meeting. On Day 1 it seemed anything that went past the outside edge was called, even those deliveries that seamed away past a forward defensive stroke! The local umpires were reluctant to change the habits of a lifetime but a degree of sanity prevailed for the remaining games.
If the batting at times had to be agricultural the accommodation was in keeping - an agriculture college on the outskirts of town and a taxi ride away from the bright lights of the village.
Prices in the only hostelry in the village known locally as the ‘English Pub’ were eye-watering, but not apparently to visiting Norwegians who sailed across to drink at ‘knockdown’ prices compared to home!
At the closing Dinner the MC ‘Uncle’ Peter Hargreaves passed on a message of thanks which he said came from the local taxi-drivers who had seemingly enjoyed a record breaking couple of weeks trade working the late night shift. Needless to say the joke, if that’s what it was, went down rather less well than he expected.
That said Steve Lubbers, who was coaching the Dutch reported that at one match he had been approached by a young girl who asked if she could take one of his players home for the night! She assured him that her father had agreed to return him to his accommodation after breakfast, as she put it, ‘in good condition’. Steve said that even for a fairly broad minded Dutchman this was a request too far.
Jan Cunningham was a member of the squad and shares some memories from the trip: “We had a reasonably talented bunch of cricketers, most of whom went on to get full honours I think, but definitely underperformed during the tournament only beating Canada and Bermuda.
I think we lost by a run to The Netherlands and by just 3 wickets to a very good Zimbabwe side. If we had managed to win both of those the tournament would have been reasonably successful.Zimbabwe went through the tournament unbeaten from recollection. Incidentally I played rugby against a few of the Zimbabweans from that U19 team including Heath Streak who was a very good full back in his day.
The game I remember most is against England who had sent their Under 18 squad. We struggled for runs against a good attack which included Danny Law and Gary Keedy. I slogged a few at the end and was given a few ‘verbals’ by Vikram Solanki about my less than adequate technique. I politely suggested to Mr Solanki that I was quite happy to take the technical discussion up with him again after the game, but unfortunately when I looked for him afterwards there was no sign…
I have more vivid recollections of the craic off the pitch as there were a good bunch of guys on that tour. I do remember that we were slightly taken aback by the pulchritude of the Danish ladies when we visited a local night club. After one of the visits there was a bit of incident involving hair removal cream in which I lost an eyebrow, less said about that the better!”
Ryan Eagleson remembers that it was his first time playing cricket outside the UK so a great experience on and off the pitch:
“We were used to playing on grass wickets but the tournament was played on coconut matting not the usual artificial pitch that we’re used to at home. They stretched the coconut matting on the morning of the game and depending on how much they stretched it had an effect on how it played. If the mat was loose it would turn and bounce for spinners and have tennis ball bounce for the seamers and if it was tight there was some pace in it.
I remember bowling a lot of off cutters and cross seamers as my seam up deliveries tended to get whacked out of the park. It really was a case of assessing condition of the mat to see how you were going to bowl.
Denmark was certainly an expensive place to tour, I’d never seen prices like it, absolutely through the roof for an 18 year old from Carrick.
At the matches it was ham and cheese rolls every day for lunch. Everyone then had a proper dinner together back at the college, disappointing for some of the lads who were missing their burger and chips.
A great experience for us all - still have the T-Shirt to prove it!”
Food was also at the heart of a major diplomatic incident on the trip when Irish manager Dessie McCall had to use all his tact to extricate one of his charges from an embarrassing situation.
In the pre-mobile phone world of 1993 communication with home was necessarily by post-card and unfortunately one of the Irish ‘burger and chips’ brigade choose to write that the food was ***** on one of his cards home. It was doubly unfortunate that the local postmistress was the mother of one of the cooks in the college and contacted the Tournament organiser to register her displeasure!
Nothing that a few well chosen words from the manager and a box of chocolates from the player concerned couldn’t put right. All in a day’s work!
Ireland v Bermuda
On winning the toss Ireland invited Bermuda to bat. A wicket in the third over for Patterson and two in the eighth over bowled by O’Meara were followed by a suicidal run-out to leave Bermuda 23 for 4. The fifth wicket stand was broken by Eagleson in his first over (50 for 5) and on the dismissal at 67 of the captain who scored 33, the tail collapsed.
In reply Joyce and Wiseman opened with a 45 run partnership and Davy was run out backing up without facing a ball. Gillespie and Wiseman guided us home to an eight wicket victory.
Ireland v The Netherlands
This was played at Viborg on a cold blustery day when the games at Nykobing were washed out. After a delayed start the game was reduced to 40 overs per side. In the wintry conditions Ireland bowled and fielded well with the skipper holding a blinder at deep mid off.
However, against tight bowling and fielding Ireland made slow progress and then lost wickets at crucial times. After Wiseman and Davy had fallen early, Joyce and Gillespie took the score to 68 in the 28th over but Ireland then lost 4 wickets in 4 overs in scoring only 6 runs.
At 93 for nine in the 36th over Ireland seemed completely out of it but Ogilby and Donnelly had other ideas. 15 from the next over including two sixes over square leg by Ogilby raised spirits and going into the last over Ireland needed seven to win. Scampering between the wickets left them with two required with 2 balls remaining. Ogilby was run out by a direct hit — with nobody backing up — to leave a very relieved Dutch side winners by the narrowest of margins.
Ireland v Zimbabwe
The match against Zimbabwe at Holstebro was another tight affair. This game was the noisiest on the field that any of the Irish players and indeed the management had probably ever encountered. The best that can be said for the incessant vocals of the Zimbabwe was that the main perpetrator spilled a dolly catch and got a duck!
Again Ireland made slow progress against a tight attack and outstanding fielding. Only a belligerent 35 not out from Patterson batting at number nine lifted them to respectability.
A superb hostile opening salvo from Patterson and Cooke reduced the Zimbabweans to 12 for four. Then the tide turned—a slip chance was not accepted, Cooke injured himself and took no further part in the tournament, the replacement umpire turned down a run out, and Zimbabwe fought their way back. At 67 for six it was anybody’s game but a seventh wicket stand of 53 condemned Ireland to a second defeat.
Ireland v Denmark
This was the one which really got away for Ireland. With 40 overs bowled they were well in control as Denmark had only scored 91 for five. Then the wheels came off. Patterson and Gillespie could not strike the correct length and the Danes were rampant, doubling the score in those final 10 overs to finish on 180 for six.
The loss of early wickets and the failure to put together a meaningful partnership then meant that Ireland were always adrift. Hope shone briefly when O’Reilly and Barriscale were together but the latter’s dismissal ended all realistic chances of victory and Ireland ended up 27 runs short with two overs unused.
Ireland v England
The game against England was the only one in which Ireland never achieved a potential winning position, although at 84 for one after 20 overs they were hopeful. However the introduction of the English spinners, as it has done many times in the past, radically changed the position.
In the next 20 overs Ireland scored 50 runs and lost seven wickets. A late flurry from Jan Cunningham lifted them to our highest total to date (167) by the time the last wicket fell in the 47th over. Despite an early breakthrough by Patterson England were never in any great trouble and could even afford to throw away a couple of late wickets in winning by 5 wickets with 6 overs to spare.
Ireland v Canada
Put into bat Ireland made the Canadians pay. The openers, Joyce and Ogilby, took the score to 98 before Ogilby holed out having scored exactly 50. Joyce at last played an extended innings but the real fireworks began when Gillespie joined Davy in the 37th over with the score at 137. When they were parted in the 50th over the score had risen to 259. Their partnership was worth 120 in 55 minutes off 12.2 overs. Davy finished unbeaten on 77 (three sixes and three fours) while Gillespie’s 66 included three sixes and 4 fours.
The opening burst from Patterson and O’Meara saw Canada slump to 21 for five which effectively ended the game as a contest. However there followed a spectacular display of aggressive batting by their number 9 Bajwa, who took advantage of some relaxed bowling to help himself to four sixes, three fours and two threes in compiling 42 as his side totalled 173 in reply.
- Gareth O’Meara, captain
- Gus Joyce
- Peter Gillespie
- Peter Davy
- Stephen Ogilby
- Stephen Donnelly
- Ronan O’Reilly
- Mark Patterson
- Mark Barriscale
- Jan Cunningham
- Richard Wiseman
- Ryan Eagleson
- Dessie McCall (manager)
- Ian Johnston (coach)