Irish cricket in 1977

The Irish XI did well in a six-match programme. There was one dismal, disastrous failure against Scotland, but the successes outweighed this disappointment.

The Australians came to Rathmines, Dublin, for two days in June. Ireland held their own, taking 15 wickets and only losing seven. Sergeant (63) and Hookes (58) made attractive runs but it needed a last wicket stand of 64 between Dymock and Pascoe to lift the score to 291. In reply came the highest ever score for Ireland against Australia. J. F. Short opened and was 80 not out at the declaration score of 200 for four. B. A. O'Brien scored 51 and the pair added 112 for the fourth wicket. Time was running out when Australia declared at 96 for five. 188 was beyond Ireland's ability but they reached 104 for three. As usual J. D. Monteith was the leading bowler. In 21 overs he took six for 97 and added two for 15 in the second innings.

The Scottish match at Clontarf C.C., Dublin, was slow moving. By virtue of Monteith's bowling (eight for 94 in the match), 100 not out by J. Harrison and 60 by S. C. Corlett, Ireland had only 114 to get to win. There was plenty of time but in a trice Ireland were 9 for five and 28 for nine. The last pair held out for 10 overs and there were only 5 overs to go when Scotland won a notable victory. Both A. J. O'Riordan and J. D. Monteith reached 200 wickets in this match. The former, in his 70th match, got there first. Monteith was playing his 39th match.

With generous sponsorship from Allied Irish Banks, a four match tour was undertaken in July. There were three dull, slow-moving days v. Wales at Swansea. Monteith was absent but Corlett took eight wickets. B. A. O'Brien (72) and I. J. Anderson (39 and 41 not out) were the leading batsmen.

On to Pagham and a three-day game against Sussex. The first Irish victory over a County was recorded. Imran Khan was playing his first match for Sussex and scored 101 in ninety minutes on a small ground. Ireland got to within two of the Sussex score of 260. L. P. Hughes scored 35 at number nine and had a brittle battle with Imran. It finished with the latter being warned for bowling bouncers at a tail-ender! Sussex reached 103 for one and were then bowled out for 197. Monteith was again the destroyer, taking eight wickets in the match, and doing so for the third time in 1977. Corlett took six wickets. Ireland needed 200 to win. They lost two wickets in the first over, were 18 for three and 71 for four. Short had begun brilliantly and reached 50 in 53 minutes. He ultimately scored 99 and added 100 for the fifth wicket with C. C. J. Harte. The win by three wickets came with a couple of overs to spare.

A. J. O'Riordan matched his 200 wickets with his 2,000th run in this match. He is the first Irish player ever to reach this double. Sadly the Sussex match was his last. He was injured in the subsequent one-day non-cap match against Surrey and was unable to play against M.C.C. He has since announced his retirement with 72 caps to his name, 28 of them as captain. His loss will be enormous as he was two players in one and merited a place as either batsman or bowler. First capped at 18, he was only 37 when he called a halt.

Next came a 50-overs-a-side match, against Surrey at The Oval. Ireland bowled and fielded extremely well and Surrey were restricted to 204 for six. Ireland did not bat to their full potential and were all out for 146. It was a most enjoyable day and gave Ireland their first chance of playing at The Oval since 1895.

The last tour match was a two-day affair against M.C.C. at Lord's. The wicket was very near the Tavern boundary and the batsmen dominated the bowlers, for 819 runs were scored and only 21 wickets fell. Ireland made a spirited effort to score 207 to win and fell only four short with five wickets down. A win seemed likely until I. J. Anderson (81) was out at 192. Anderson made 103 not out in the first innings, his fifth and record-breaking century for Ireland.

Harrison topped the season's averages with 46.75 for 187 runs. He too has announced his retirement after 32 matches (1,347 runs, average 25.41). Anderson scored most runs (335). S. C. Corlett's 29 wickets cost 17.34 and Monteith's 28 cost only 16.14.

North West won the Guinness Cup for the first time since 1969. Captained by R. Collins, they won four and drew the other of their five matches. I. Rankin, I. Dougherty, T. Harpur and C. Nicholl were their best batsmen. J. Beattie and R. Moan took 33 of the 47 wickets that fell.

The Esso Under 19 Cup was won by North Leinster, who beat North West in the final. This deprived the latter of a triple because they had already won the Under 15 Esso cup.

The Under 19 International tournament at Charterhouse was greatly enjoyed by the Irish boys although they only won one match out of five.

In the Northern Cricket Union Downpatrick won the Cup, beating Lisburn in the two innings final -- all four being restricted to 60 overs each. Waringstown, as usual, won something, this time it was the League. Donemana (League) and Brigade (Cup) were the winners in the North West.

In Leinster, Malahide were League winners; Phoenix won the John Player (Gillette rules) knock-out Cup for the third successive year. The Wiggins Teape sponsored League, played in July and August, was shared by Clontarf, Leinster and Y.M.C.A. A. J. O'Riordan, for the third time in 12 years, won all three individual awards, perpetual cups awarded for batting, bowling and all-round play.

© John Wisden & Co