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Guide to Irish International Cricket 1855-2020
Ireland Under 19: International Tournaments
1997 International Youth Tournament
Bermuda

Having filled the Ireland Coach’s role at four previous events Ian Johnston looks back on what was his first trip as manager:

Bermuda 1997 was destined to be the last ‘International Youth Tournament’ in what had become its regular format, as following this, ICC instigated a ‘European Cricket Council’ Under 19 championship which saw the departure of Canada and Bermuda to the ‘Americas’ region.

A view of the Somerset CC ground during the opening fixture between Bermuda and Ireland

Unfortunately that decision had not been conveyed to either country and I found myself in the embarrassing position of having to make a speech at the closing Dinner inviting all the sides to Belfast in 1999 knowing that Bermuda and Canada were still unaware of their impending exclusion.

The accommodation issues of the 1985 event in Bermuda when a ‘mothballed’ army camp was pressed into service had been addressed, and this time round it was a ‘mothballed’ hotel that was pressed into use.

What hadn’t changed from ’85 was that England had upgraded themselves to the Belmont Hotel which unlike like our waterside venue had two golf courses and a large swimming pool. They were accompanied by Ray Daly, Mike Hendrick’s assistant for the duration and whose addition to the touring party was seemingly one bed too far for Ireland’s accommodation allocation. Lucky for some!

The tournament provided an interesting insight into some aspects of social change that were occurring when during the ‘Opening Reception’ one of the officials welcomed the parents of the Bermudan squad saying that their boys were a credit to them, announcing that all had been ‘tested’ and all pronounced ‘clean’! This was greeted with enthusiastic applause from the locals present and wide-eyed looks from most of us visitors.

The reception also provided us with our first sight of chicken drumsticks and meatballs which which we would become all too familiar over the coming days.

The drumsticks and meatballs were served daily at all the matches and on an island that had successfully repelled the invasion of KFC and McDonalds, the only semi-affordable alternative evening meal was pizza.

Our ‘mothballed’ hotel had no food other than a ‘continental’ breakfast on-site so ‘ordering in’ or a ferry ride across the harbour to Hamilton town centre was the only option.

Pizza delivery came via a moped rider who was singularly unimpressed by my offer of a scrap of paper on which were the bank details of the ICU credit card. The possibility of handing over the card itself to me was a step too far for the Treasurer to contemplate!!

The event was to be an Under 19 World Cup Qualifier with two places in Johannesburg in January 1998 up for grabs, quite a prize and certainly incentive enough for us to give it our best shot.

We lost only one match, to an England side that contained Robert Key, Graham Napier, Chris Schofield and Michael Gough.

A total of 170 was never going to be enough even with the Napier going without scoring when Key (75) and Gough (45) added 131 for the second wicket.

That was the only blip on our way to the runner-up spot, our highest placing since Canada in 1979, as we racked up solid wins against the other sides.

The batting highlight was a century by Ed Joyce in the final game against Denmark. This was a game that we had to win to achieve automatic qualification. Ireland had 4 wins, as had Scotland who had completed their programme, Denmark had 3 and a win for them would leave qualification hanging on run-rate calculations.

Joyce’s century was dominant, in an innings where the next highest score was 23. In sweltering heat he was at the crease for almost three hours, frequent drinks breaks.

So Ireland and Scotland qualified for the revived Under 19 World Cup in South Africa and by some strange ICC decision Denmark also made it to J’burg as ‘the next highest, non automatic, already qualified finisher in the Senior Tournament in Kuala Lumpur’.”

Ed Joyce, Ireland’s centurion on the trip shares his recollections, including an incident that went unreported to management at the time!

I recall we travelled with a good competitive side and felt we had a good chance of coming in the top two. Our big rivals were as usual Scotland and Netherlands, but Denmark were also a decent side. England were always expected to win the tournament for obvious reasons. 

We stayed in an enormous hotel and I believe most of the other teams were also there. My roomies were David Finlay, Joe Morrissey and Richard Beattie and the room was cramped to say the least.

I managed to bag myself the fold-out bed while the other three lads had actual ones. Needless to say, the room was an utter disgrace at the end of the trip.

We had been badly sunburnt on one trip to the beach and had bought several bottles of aloe vera and a green moisturiser which ended up coating most of the room afterwards.

We played some decent cricket in the tournament. We beat Scotland and Netherlands in tight enough games. Our bowling was very consistent and was the difference between the teams.

We had a comfortable victory against Bermuda and a good competitive game against England in which we had our chances to win. Dwayne McGerrigle bowled very impressively in this game with real pace. 

We then had a World Cup qualifying game against Denmark in our last game. We won comfortably enough and I played my best innings by a long way getting a hundred, which was a nice way to finish the tournament. 

My abiding memories of the trip were that Bermuda was a great venue to play cricket. There were really good crowds, especially when facing the home side. The team got on really well and our seam bowling in particular was really useful.

We had one extremely dicey experience when we rented some boats to explore the reefs and do a bit of fishing and swimming around the island. Three of us went for a dip when we got pretty badly stung by Portuguese Man O’War jellyfish and had to be rushed back to the harbour to be looked after. Easily the most terrified I’ve ever been as we had no idea was happening at the time. 

All in all however a fantastic trip and one of my favourite Irish cricketing memories.

Simon Carruthers was playing in his second tournament and was another who enjoyed the sights and sounds of the Island.

The 1997 IYT in Bermuda had several memorable parts for me and the whole tour was great fun.

We had a good bunch of players. I think we felt we could compete with and beat any other team at the tournament even if we did end up convincing ourselves we were going to lose to England before a ball was bowled!

We had a good variety of players with us from Ed Joyce and his elegant left handed batting to Dwayne McGerrigle’s aggressive opening bowling and Neal Anderson’s left arm spin.

We had a good bunch of talent to pick from. Captain Joe Clinton had options in his bowling attack and his batting order.

There are a number of things that stick in my memory from Bermuda. The oppressive humidity took a toll and was difficult for us to get used to; I remember drinking huge amounts of fluids trying to stay hydrated.

I remember the huge roller they had at St David’s, the ground where we played Canada; repurposed after it had done its job laying the new runway at the international airport!

The St David's Ground was the venue for Ireland's win over Canada

My Dad was in Bermuda as a supporter and he thought that roller was brilliant (he was looking after the pitches in Ballymena at the time).

Then there was the guy whose local knowledge announced the impending arrival of a monumentally heavy rain shower during the game with England which ended with us all sprinting for cover.

I remember how supportive and vocal the Bermudian crowds were for all the games.

On the pitch Ed Joyce’s fantastic innings against Denmark was a highlight along with the introduction for most of us to reverse swing, something the humidity helped provide.

I remember the matches being competitive and reasonably successful for us as we qualified for the revived Under 19 World Cup the following winter in South Africa. Saying that, I think we all felt we could collectively have played better, Bermuda IYT didn’t see that Ireland Under 19 team play as well it could have done. We did enough to get to South Africa for the World Cup though!

Ireland

Bermuda v Ireland

Bermuda's recent record in the International Youth Tournament had been poor but as host country, and having won the Tournament when they last hosted it in 1985, they were an unknown quantity and one to be treated cautiously. In essence this turned out to be a most comfortable victory and one which set the tone for the rest of the competition.

On winning the toss, Joseph Clinton had no hesitation in batting, a decision rewarded with a century opening partnership between Simon Carruthers (53) and Joe Morrissey (48), the latter employed as the “pinch hitter” to take advantage of the new field placing restrictions. The rest of the top order took full advantage of this good start but the tail fell cheaply leaving 2 of the allotted 50 overs unused.

Nevertheless the total of 285 was, by far, the best of the opening games and one which Bermuda never looked like threatening. The opening bowlers failed to make an early breakthrough but the introduction of the captain (4 for 16 in 9 overs) saw the home side plummet from 43 for 0 to 97 for 7 after 33 overs. Bermuda's final tally of 169 for 9 owed much to a belligerent 36 not out from their number 9 and 44 extras of which 26 were no balls and wides.

Ireland v Canada

Ireland's second match was against Canada, another of the traditionally weaker countries and one to whom they had not lost since 1979, although there have been some close encounters.

Again batting first, the openers put on 50 for the first wicket. Joyce (39), Finlay (52) and Cousins (35) carried on the good work and at 190/3 in the 42nd over another large total looked on the cards. However there then followed a horrendous collapse as the tail folded. Four wickets tumbled in the 45th and the innings closed at 211 on the last ball of the 48th over.

McGerrigle struck with his first ball having the Canadian opener caught behind and although their top order battled hard the Canadians were always behind the required run rate. Their innings eventually closed on 157 in the 47th over. The seven bowlers used shared the wickets but also sent down 17 wides, a totally unsatisfactory number.

Ireland v Scotland

After two days rest Ireland faced Scotland in their first crucial game which would have a large bearing on qualification for the 1998 Under 19 World Cup in South Africa.

Carruthers and Morrissey posted another half century opening partnership in 13 overs before being parted. The hundred was reached in the 28th over for the loss of only one more wicket. However three wickets fell quickly as the score subsided to 120 for 5 when Moore joined Finlay. Together they added a vital 53 before the former was dismissed for his second successive fifty.

McGerrigle helped Moore take the score beyond 200 and when the allotted overs ran out the total had reached 213 for 9. Moore's contribution was 32 whilst McGerrigle’s 12 were most valuable.

In reply Scotland raced to 34 in five overs as their opener took a liking to McGerrigle. The score had reached 72 in the | 15th over before Clinton made the vital breakthrough. 3 more fell before the century was reached in the 26th over as Morrissey and Anderson put a brake on the scoring. Finlay, and McGerrigle on his return, kept the tight rein, thwarting the efforts of the Scottish middle order to regain the initiative. In the end Scotland were bowled out in the 46th over, 23 runs short of their target, to maintain Ireland's 100% record.

With The Netherlands gaining a tie with England the race for those automatic qualification spots was becoming a complicated affair.

Ireland v England

The game against England turned out to be somewhat of an anti-climax as Ireland suffered a six wicket defeat.

Batting first for the fourth time, Ireland made steady, if unspectacular, progress against tight bowling. Each time a partnership looked like developing a wicket was lost as no one put together an innings of any substance. Cousins top scored with 28 and Hutchinson (27) and Joyce (22) were the only others to top 20. The innings finally closed on 170 with 3 overs unused.

McGerrigle, yet again, struck in the first over to engender some hope but a stand of 131 in 28 overs put England firmly in the driving seat. The bowlers stuck manfully to their task and captured 2 more wickets before England eased home to a comfortable victory in the 40th over.

Idyllic surroundings as Ireland took on Canada at St David's

Ireland v The Netherlands

The Netherlands, by their tie with England, had shown themselves as a team not to be under estimated. The management made three changes in personnel which saw Morrissey and McGerrigle rested. Joyce was promoted to open and Beattie and O'Herlihy came in for their first games of the tournament.

Joyce, relishing his opener's role, posted his best score to date and put on 39 with Carruthers before the latter was bowled for 23. 4 wickets fell before the score reached 100 with Joyce (47) fifth out having scored half of the total. Another wicket fell at 112 and with 20 overs still to be bowled the side's position was most precarious. However Shane Moore and Joseph Clinton rescued the position with a gritty and determined partnership of 69 as they progressed the score to 182/9 by the end of the 46th over. A late flurry by Neil Anderson raised the total to 205 for 7 when the innings closed at the end of the 50 overs.

Aided by some wayward bowling The Netherlands made a steady start, scoring 29 in seven overs before the first wicket fell. Three more wickets fell quickly as the score advanced to 42 before a partnership of 38 eased The Netherlands back into contention. The sixth wicket pair continued the rescue act with the best partnership of the innings (56) but the bowlers kept their heads (and accuracy) to wrap up the tail, claiming the last Dutch wicket with the last ball of the match when 10 were still needed for victory. In the end the winning margin appeared a lot closer than it actually was.

Again, the Irish cause was not helped by bowling 18 wides (30 runs) which gave their opponents three extra overs to attain the winning runs. This victory removed The Netherlands from contention for South Africa but the other results meant that the two qualifiers would come from Scotland, Denmark and Ireland.

Ireland v Denmark

Ireland had 4 wins as had Scotland, who had finished their programme, whilst Denmark had 3. Defeat by Denmark would leave the three teams level and run rate would decide the two qualifiers for South Africa.

Remarkably, Joseph Clinton won the toss for the sixth consecutive time and had no hesitation in batting. Ireland reverted to our strongest line up with Morrissey restored as Carruthers’ opening partner. A quick fire partnership of 37 was broken in the seventh over to herald the arrival of Ed Joyce to the wicket. He immediately took centre stage to complete the only century of the tournament and display his undoubted class and talent.

He was last man out having been at the crease for 165 minutes, faced 111 balls and hit 13 fours in scoring 105. He completely dominated the innings - the next highest score being 23 — as Carruthers, Cousins, Clinton and McGerrigle all provided stout support. When he was dismissed in the final over the innings closed on 247, a challenging target for the Danes to achieve if they were to deprive Ireland of that World Cup slot.

Once again McGerrigle struck immediately, removing the Danish opener for nought with the help of a sharp slip catch by Morrissey. The Danes strove hard to overcome this early set back but kept losing wickets regularly at vital times. With 30 overs gone half the side were out for 112, and although their sixth wicket pair added 88, the other batsmen were unable to maintain the required tempo as Harrison returned to capture three wickets and extinguish any hope of a Danish victory.

When their No 11 was run out in the 48th over Denmark were still 43 runs short of victory and Ireland had qualified for the 1998 Under 19 World Cup as of right. The dream of South Africa had become a reality by a series of fine performances under pressure which brought a deserved second position in the Tournament — Ireland's highest position since Canada in 1979.

Ireland squad

  • Joseph Clinton (The Hills) captain
  • Neil Anderson (Lurgan)
  • Richard Beattie (NICC)
  • Simon Carruthers (Ballymena)
  • Andrew Cousins (Waringstown)
  • David Finlay (NICC)
  • Simon Harrison (Waringstown)
  • Mark Hutchinson (Bangor)
  • Ed Joyce (Merrion)
  • Shane Moore (Old Belvedere)
  • Joe Morrissey (Merrion)
  • Dwayne McGerrigle (Donemana)
  • Kevin O’Malley (Old Belvedere)
  • Michael O’Herlihy (Merrion)
  • Ian Johnston (manager)
  • Mike Hendrick (coach)
  • Ray Daly (assistant coach)