I’ll not beat about the bush – this is not a first class match despite what everyone in authority says! It would not surprise me if that status were to be taken away at some point.
Six of the seven ‘Essex’ players have one first class appearance between them, and the other four are from the Ireland squad and to my mind this is a fiasco if you’re calling this or marketing it as an ‘international first class’ match. We paying spectators are not that gullible and so it showed – if there are 400 in the ground today I’d be surprised! It’s only the tragics who come along!
Essex/Ireland start the day on 59/2 and soon lose three wickets to the all-Ireland front line bowlers to reach 113/5 after an hour or so. This brings Adair and Buttleman (in his second first class match) together and they reach 209/5 at lunch – a lead of 133. The second line bowlers for all-Ireland look just that.
After lunch both bats carry on as if they’ve a train to catch and the field is soon scattered. It looks too obvious that some kind of declaration ‘deal’ had been cooked up over lunch to give all-Ireland the practice of a run chase.
And you know something is ‘up’ when a) the umpires don’t inspect the range of balls on offer when one is lost and b) drinks not taken out when a wicket falls!
Close on 100 runs in 50 minutes (98 to be precise) and exactly 50 overs smacks of a contrived declaration and target. The last bat coming out for three balls and then walking straight off was so obvious.
The bowling – such as it was – was hammered and a Test bowling attack unable to dismiss two bats with one first class appearance between them as they put on over 50 – really? And this is supposed to be an international first class match! And I know I described the all-Ireland bowling as ‘poor Second Division Championship’ earlier but really? Really?
I’m sorry to keep banging on but this should be suspect under the Trades Description Act!
Anyway, we are where we are; all-Ireland need 232 to win in 50 overs. And nothing to detract from all 22 players – they’re making the best of it and trying hard. All good practice I suppose!
All-Ireland are off like a train then almost come to a stop as the bowlers take a few overs to find their lines. At tea, after 13 overs Ireland are 48/0 needing another 184 off a maximum of 37 overs.
After tea the inexperience of the rookie Essex bowlers shows – and Dockrell wasn’t on top form – meant that the Irish openers – Moor and McCollum – could prosper.
To say that they exquisitely paced the innings would be an understatement! Moor reached his century in good time while McCollum needed six with six needed for a win and he duly despatched Browne (v rare to see him bowl – and it’s clear why!) deep into the Hayes Close end.
A win by 10 wickets on the stroke of 6pm ended the torment for the Essex/Ireland bowlers. Whether Dockrell wants his bowling figures included in his career stats in his one ‘appearance’ for Essex remains to be seen but an Essex side of six rookies and four ‘guests’ doesn’t strike me as first class!
In the end the inexperience showed in what is really a travesty calling this fixture a first class international; I’ve no issues with intra-squad games, any 11 from 15 a side but please be honest in what’s on offer!