THE final day of the LHK Alan Murray Cup on Saturday saw some incredible hitting with 45 sixes hit in the three games innings played. The big scoring mostly came in the semi-finals. At Sydney Parade Railway Union’s Riley Mutford hit nine sixes and six fours in a 49-ball century in a losing cause against Balbriggan.

At the same time about half-a-mile away The Hills’ Nicolaaj Laegsgaard scored an unbeaten ton in 37 balls, hitting 15 sixes, two fours and two singles.

This all led me to check the “fast scoring” corner of the archives, and while it’s likely that Laegsgaard scored the fastest century ever in senior cricket in Ireland, it’s hard to be sure.

The problem mainly is that scorers rarely counted balls faced “back in the day”, and it is only since most cricket became limited overs that they have been regularly noted. This piece is in no way intended to be definitive but admits to skimming the surface.

There were two amazing innings on the same day in August 2013: Syed Mehti hit a fifty off only 15 balls for Balbriggan 2nds against Bagenalstown in a Division 7 league match. His second fifty took 20 balls, making a 35-ball century. He was out for 120 after facing just 40 balls. Balbriggan made 347 off 45 overs and won by 177 runs.

Just a little earlier that afternoon Max Sorensen almost matched Syed’s rate. Max hit an unbeaten 99 off 36 balls, including 10 sixes and 4 fours for the Hills against Pembroke in the semi-final of the Alan Murray Cup.

For Ireland there have been several well-known slog-fests, John Prior’s 51 ball, 51-minute century against Warwickshire in 1982, and Peter Gillespie’s 47 ball whirlwind against MCC just before the 2005 ICC Trophy. Kevin O'Brien's 50 ball demolition of England at Bangalore in 2011 is still the fastest scored at a world cup. The Railway Union man also has Ireland’s fastest T20 hundred (53 balls v Hong Kong in 2019). The fastest of Ireland’s four Test centuries came in 149 balls by Lorcan Tucker against Sri Lanka in Galle.

The legendary Jeff Smith of Co Galway hit 117 in 50 minutes against Guinness in 1976, while Ian Botham took just 36 minutes and 38 balls to score 101* against Lisburn in 1986. Although it was an exhibition game, the unfortunate bowler was then-current Irish opener John Elder, who conceded 34 off his final over.

(Which was beaten as an Irish record at the 2013 MCC festival in College Park, when Harry Bowles of MCC Wales hit Tom Hughes of MCC England West/South West for five 6s, with a wide in the middle, before cracking the last ball for 4, making 35)

There were some spectacularly quick double centuries which could have conceivably seen a century in fewer than 36 balls balls, such as those by Obus Pienaar (Waringstown, 114 balls, 2011), Jason Brooker (North County, 134 balls, 2005), Decker Curry (Limavady, 126 balls, 2003) and Roy Silva (Glendermott, 117 balls, 2011), Ross Dougherty (Newbuildings 134 balls, 2023).

The amazing innings of Dickie Lloyd saw the Trinity batsman score a double century before lunch – and he didn’t go in till the first wicket fell. It’s not certain how long the batted for, but it was certainly less than two hours.

But the greatest challenger for Syed and Nicolaj comes from another LCU junior game of the late 1940s. A celebrated junior cricketer called John Joe Roe (who also played league cricket for the Irish Times) made a century in just 31 minutes. Again, the scorer didn’t record the number of balls faced, but as John Joe hit ten 6s and ten 4s, and doesn’t seem to have much of a blocker, it’s unlikely to have been too many more than 20.

Does any reader know of any similar feats of speed-scoring? I'd love to hear about them.