The 1995 International Youth Tournament tournament hosted by the KNCB was held as part of the 3rd Haarlem Cricket Week, organised as one of the events to celebrate the city’s 750th Anniversary.
Once again there was a new face at the event with Scotland taking the place place of Zimbabwe who won the tournament in 1993 in what turned out to be their only appearance.
The Ireland squad selected for the 1995 included three players who would go on to play at Senior level, Stephen Ogilby, who had played in 1993, Barry Archer and Greg Molins. Only Archer and Molins would make the trip however as Ogilby was called into Mike Hendrick’s squad for the Triple Crown series.
Ian Callender noted in his review that Hendrick’s view, ‘If you’re good enough, you are old enough,’ probably meant that he would not be the last U19 to miss an International Youth Tournament because of a senior call.
It was not to be a tournament to remember for Ireland as they shared runners-up spot with Scotland, Denmark and Canada, coming second best to Scotland, Denmark and England.
The initial loss to Denmark was perhaps the biggest disappointment. The Danes restricting the Irish scoring with tight bowling, line and length on the familiar mat and then sneaking over the line in a flurry of wickets as Ireland realised too late that they were actually still in with a chance.
Things got no better against Scotland as John Blain blasted out the openers as Ireland struggled to 129. Dougie Lockhart and Greig Butchart rattled up a century opening partnership in the Scots reply as they eased to a 7 wicket win.
Ireland’s third match was against Bermuda and with Simon Harrison and Darren McCann each taking four wickets Bermuda were dismissed for 111, and Ireland recorded a morale boosting eight wicket win.
England were Ireland’s next opponents and for this tournament they sent their U17 side. Only four wickets fell in the game, two on each side! Ronan O’Reilly earned praise for the English coaching staff for his 86* in a total of 169/2 in 50 overs. No mean feat against an attack featuring future England Test players Ryan Sidebottom and Gareth Batty.
Wickets were just as scarce when England batted and although the Irish bowling was disciplined England ran out winners in the 42nd over by eight wickets.
Against Canada, Simon Carruthers with 74* ensured a two hundred plus total and it took all of them as Ian Khan fought back with 67. It was Greg Molins who wrapped up the 15 run win for Ireland claiming his fourth wicket in the 49th over, Simon Harrison and skipper Peter Byrne each collecting three.
Ireland’s final game was against the home side who by this stage were wilting under the schedule they had been forced to accept. In a Club versus Country tussle, familiar to many, their players were withdrawn from the tournament on the Saturday and Sunday to play for their clubs meaning that they would end up playing on 7 consecutive days and be beaten in their final four matches.
For Ireland Ronan O’Reilly fell tantalisingly close to joining the elite list who have scored a century in the history of the Tournament. Facing the last ball of the innings on 95 his valiant attempt to hit a six dropped into the hands of the fielder on the midwicket boundary. So near but yet so far!
If O’Reilly’s luck was out, for the Dutch Bastien Zuiderent’s was definitely in as he was fortunate not to be given out lbw to his first delivery, going on to score 73 before becoming one of Philip Kirkpatrick’s four victims.
Away from the games the Van Der Valk Hotel was an excellent base of operations, situated as it was at the first Motorway Services area heading South on the A4 from Schipol Airport.
It resembled a Spanish resort hotel with tiered terraces of rooms each with a balcony. It was directly under the busy flight path to Schipol, but far enough away that planes were not noisily swooping in just over the roof.
It had become a bit of a custom that the Irish management would host each day’s opposition counterparts to ‘refreshments’ before dinner. So it was that that when sitting outside on the balcony on a balmy evening an aroma wafted up from one of the floors below. “Good stuff that!” Was the observation from one of the Canadians guests, who in a former life had been a Police Officer with experience in Narcotics.
The next day we were met at breakfast by the manager who explained that the smoke alarm system of the hotel was being repaired that day and he was asking everyone to be particularly careful until the repair was completed.
Staff had found a waste-bin sitting outside one of the rooms, and in it was a smoke alarm wrapped up in about 100 metres of the wiring that attached it back to the reception area!
Given the experience of the previous night you didn’t need to be Commissaris Van der Valk himself to work out the reason for its removal.
The manager went on to say that a bill would be presented to the offending country not only for the repair to the alarm system but also for the damage caused in what he said was an attempt to ‘rearrange’ the room, by which he meant partial demolition of the wall between bedroom and bathroom! I’m happy to be able to report that no bill was pushed under an Irish door before departure.
Ronan O’Reilly reveals how he acquired his nickname as he shares a few, but not all, of his experiences on the trip:
“A thoroughly enjoyable trip with a super group, some great characters in the touring squad. I recall we got off to a slow start on the pitches, but turned our performances around as we progressed through the tournament. Adjusting to the coconut matting surface was a challenge for all and took a bit of getting used to.
We stayed in a massive hotel near Schiphol Airport with all the other visiting teams. Huge rooms and superb facilities including swimming pool equipped with jacuzzi and saunas … we were made up!
The Bermudian team were great lads. We used to play water polo against them in the hotel pool before breakfast and on some mornings we would mix teams and have some fun. Not ideal preparation for international cricket only a few hours later!
During one of our epic encounters and in the heat of the battle, a Bermudian guy addressed me as… “Red Dog, I’m free, pass me the ball!” and the nickname, ‘Red Dog’ has stayed with me ever since!
I recall on one of the evenings, Dessie and Jonty gave us a free pass to explore Amsterdam. We got the local train into the city centre and started walking…somewhere along the way, we took a wrong turn! Let’s just say there weren’t too many straight bat shots played that evening. J…some of the lads even mastered the reverse sweep!
My abiding memories of the trip was the superb team spirit amongst the group and the hilarious banter that we shared throughout. Pretty much everybody put their foot in it at some point and some more than others!
The cricket was also very good, the opposition was strong but we ground out a few excellent victories with solid team and individual performances. We had chances to win a couple of the games we lost, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be…great days, great memories (well…most of them!).”
Simon Carruthers also remembers the first of his two International Youth Tournaments:
“The trip to the IYT in 1995 was interesting for me as it provided a chance to experience the cultural differences in the Netherlands while also giving us Irish players our first experience of playing on the mats which were common in the game there at the time.
When we arrived we were lucky enough to see the Australia A touring side play the Netherlands Senior International team in a match the day before our tournament started. That Australian team included many future Test players such as Justin Langer and Ricky Ponting so to see them play their match and practice in the nets was a great start to our week.
The matches we played were a bit of a mix and match, some solid wins mixed in with some slightly disappointing losses. It did take us time to adjust to the matting wickets which provided plenty of bounce, way more than we were used to back home with good seam movement early in the match and huge spin later in the days as the mat loosened up with use.
On the pitch, I have a few top memories including Ronan O’Reilly being last out for 95 after batting through the innings against the home Netherlands team helping us to a good win.
Because of our normal low and slow wickets, I still have flashbacks to the match against Scotland and avoiding bouncers from their opening bowler, John Blain. It was certainly a good introduction to pace and bounce for me compared to what I was used to back home!
Personally, I was pleased in the game against Canada when I top-scored with 74 only to be reminded of how fickle the game of cricket is as I was out very quickly without scoring in the next game against the Netherlands!”
As one of the younger players in the squad I found it all a huge and new experience, from our meet-up training day at Waringstown CC right through to the end of the tournament.”
In his report to the Union Manager Dessie McCall said:
“The important thing is not the winning but the experience gained by our young cricketers. They should see selection for this tournament not as a reward for performances to date but as an opportunity to impress in the hope of gaining further promotion to the senior team.”
It may not have happened for many in this group, but in the coming years under the Hendrick regime increasing numbers would, and the age profile of the Senior side would be dramatically lowered as they made that step up.
Ireland v Denmark
Ireland won the toss and elected to bat. Opening the innings, Stephen Moulton and Barry Archer got them off to a confident start. However, as in many previous instances, the drinks interval after an hour’s play played a crucial part in Ireland's demise.
From 47 for 0 Ireland plummeted to 53 for 4 as the Danish change bowlers Hansen and Jensen took a stranglehold on proceedings. They were superbly supported by their colleagues who set a standard by achieving three run-outs, all with direct hits at the same end.
O’Reilly and Kirkpatrick tried to rescue things but when O’Reilly was adjudged out for the first of the three run outs our hopes of a reasonable total disappeared. Molins and Harrison raised the spirits with sterling efforts but when the innings closed on 130 with an over and two balls unused we knew we had a fight on our hands.
In reply, the Danes’ start was similar to our own. They also lost their first wicket at 47 but in their case opener Carsten Pedersen, who had played in 1993, dug in and ground out a half century before being run out by Archer’s direct shy to become the fifth victim at that end.
The introduction of Harrison as the fifth bowler saw an upturn in Ireland's fortunes and at 93 for five victory was a possibility. The 38th over changed the picture dramatically. In the space of six deliveries, the score went from 94 to 104 and our heads visibly dropped. A further wicket before the score reached 120 and a further two when five were still needed for victory jangled the nerves as the Danes squeezed home in the 46th over.
The Danes were ecstatic at their victory which set them up for their best tournament for a number of years.
Ireland v Scotland
Another poor batting display as Ireland just could not handle the Scottish opening bowlers, both of whom were of genuine pace. Having been put in we were soon in trouble and slumped to 34 for four. Fighting rearguard innings from Iain Synnott and Simon Carruthers helped to lift the total to some sort of respectibility but had Scotland not delivered 34 wides then the final score would have been a very meagre one.
In reply Scotland were never under any pressure as their openers posted a century partnership before being separated. Three wickets in three overs when victory was in sight failed to lift the Irish gloom.
Ireland v Bermuda
A change of venue and a determined approach brought about a remarkable resurgence in our fortunes. Having lost the toss we got off to the best possible start with a wicket in the first over. Once the determined second wicket partnership was broken only an equally resolute stand by the captain and his vice captain for the 6th wicket which doubled the score saved the Bermudans from a rout. Darren McCann made the early inroads into the Bermudan batting line-up. Byrne and Molins kept things tight in mid innings without real reward and Simon Harrison mopped up the tail as our opponents were dismissed for 111.
A steady start was interrupted at 32 when an out-of-sorts Archer was lbw to the left arm spinner. Moulton and McCann added 40 without undue alarm before Moulton fell in the 19th over. O’Reilly joined McCann and together they saw us home to a comfortable victory in the 36th over.
Ireland v England
Our fourth game saw Ireland return to the scene of their first triumph and although they failed to to repeat the dose they came out of the game with a great deal of credit and their newly found confidence enhanced. The margin of defeat appears conclusive but when one considers that Ireland lost only two wickets ourselves when batting first this puts a truer perspective on our performance.
Promoted to open in place of Barry Archer, Ronan O’Reilly responded with a top quality innings which earned the plaudits of the English coaching staff. An opening stand of 70 in 30 overs with Stephen Moulton laid a solid foundation upon which Ronan and Darren McCann capatilised. A late flurry in the closing overs took us to 170 for 2 when the innings closed with Ronan undefeated on 86.
In the field Ireland also found wickets hard to come by. The bowling was steady without being spectacular, the fielding sound. With their batting display Ireland had shaken the English.
Ireland v Canada
Ireland again won the toss and elected to bat. They made their now customary steady start but, perhaps due to the efforts of the past two days, failed to take advantage and lost wickets when batsmen seemed set. At 65 for four in the 22nd over, all four having got double figures, they faced a mimi crisis but in stepped Simon Carruthers with an innings which turned the game.
With Barry Archer showing better form, Mark Barriscale and a cameo from Greg Molins, Carruthers hoisted the total to 205 for 6 when the innings closed, finishing on 74 not out.
In reply Canada made a steady start but the introduction of Harrison put the brakes on their scoring. Nevertheless,at 155 for four in the 41st over with their numbers 5 and 6 in commanding form, things were in the balance. However the 42nd over bowled by Peter Byrne changed matters dramatically. His second ball bowled Kahn on 67 and when Dennis who shared in the partnership of 60 with him skied the last ball to Barriscale there was an Irish sigh of relief. The Canada tail tried to hit their way to victory but only succeeded in giving catches which were gratefully accepted as Ireland won by 14 runs in the penultimate over.
Ireland v The Netherlands
The last day saw Ireland take on the hosts before a very large crowd who had obviously come expecting a home victory.
Again Ireland won the toss and with confidence high had no hesitation in batting. O’Reilly and Moulton gave them another steady start with the latter playing the more positive role. When he departed in the 22nd over having scored 43 out of 68, McCann continued before he holed out at mid wicket trying to repeat his feat of the previous ball when he damaged a sparkling new car parked on the roadway outside the ground.
Archer then chipped in with a brisk 23 but his dismissal heralded a mini-collapse as Carruthers, Kirkpatrick and Dunlop quickly followed to leave us 165 for 6 in the 43rd over. Meanwhile O’ Reilly was batting steadily but on the arrival of Molins he picked up the tempo as together they set about the Dutch bowling, scoring 61 in the last seven overs. O’Reilly was out off the last ball of the innings, caught on the boundary going for the six which would have given him a well deserved century. Molins finished on 33 not out as Ireland amassed their highest total of the tournament, 226 for seven.
The Dutch were soonunder pressure as McGrath and McCann picked up an early wicket apiece. The skipper Zuiderent then proceeded to play a masterful innings as he strove almost single-handedly to win the game for his side. He had had a very disappointing series and was obviously determined to show the large crowd what a good player he was. Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for us, his colleagues were unable to give him adequate support and when he was seventh out with the score on 165 Dutch hopes of a victory quickly evaporated.
The ace card for Ireland proved to be Kirkpatrick who was called up to bowl his leg spinners when Harrison went down with a bout of sunstroke and claimed four for 34 in his six overs, including the prize scalp of Zuiderent. In the end the victory margin was a comfortable 41 runs.
- Peter Byrne, captain
- Darren McCann
- Mark Barriscale
- Darren Dunlop
- Chris McGrath
- Simon Carruthers
- Simon Harrison
- Iain Synott
- Barry Archer
- Ronan O’Reilly
- Philip Kirkpatrick
- Stephen Moulton
- Greg Molins
- Dessie McCall (manager)
- Ian Johnston (coach)