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Ireland: International Tournaments
1997 ICC Trophy
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The 1997 ICC Trophy was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from March 24th to April 13th with 22 teams battling it out for three slots at the 1999 World Cup which was to be held primarily in England, although some games were allocated to Wales, Scotland, Ireland and The Netherlands in an attempt to spread the cricketing gospel in Europe.

The format saw four groups with the top two teams progressing to the next stage, where there would be two further groups, from which the top two in each would play semi-finals, a final plus a 3rd/4th place game to the last qualification place.

Group A saw favourites Kenya take on Ireland, USA, Singapore, Gibraltar and Israel. As expected Kenya won all five matches, but were given a real fright by Singapore who despite only making 89 had them in real trouble at 52 for 7 before they fell over the finishing line. Ireland managed to get the second place winning the game of the group against USA, who had former West Indian Test player in their ranks – he was in good form too, having made a century against Gibraltar.

Ireland's Mark PattersonIreland's Mark Patterson (©CricketEurope)

The Irish had thumped Gibraltar by 192 runs with Alan Lewis scoring 127, and also recorded ten wicket wins against Israel and Singapore with ruthless displays, but lost heavily to Kenya. A win against the USA would guarantee progress but it wasn’t going to be easy. Neil Doak and Decker Curry grabbed three wickets each but the Americans posted 212 despite –slightly above par on the matting wickets used throughout the tournament. When Ireland lost their seventh wicket they needed 54 from 37 balls, which was a very tall order. They got there though in the last over as Mark Patterson cleared the ropes twice in a breezy 27 not out, well accompanied by Garfield Harrison and Greg Molins who hit the winning boundary.

Group B followed a similar pattern with strong favourites Bangladesh encountering little difficulty as they beat Denmark, UAE, West Africa, hosts Malaysia and Argentina. The game of the group was between the Danes and UAE which went down to the last ball of a pulsating contest. Chasing 148, Denmark lost their eighth and ninth wickets with five still needed and six balls to go. They held their nerve, just scrambling the winning run off the last ball to ensure they made it through.

Decker Curry was Ireland's leading run scorerDecker Curry was Ireland's leading run scorer (©CricketEurope)

Group C had The Netherlands – who had played in the 1996 World Cup – seeded top, with Canada, Fiji, Namibia and West & Central Africa completing the line-up. The Dutch got off to a flying start as Asim Khan took 7 for 9 – the best figures for them in ICC competitions – as the W/C Africans were dismantled for just 26 in 15.2 overs. They followed that up with a ten-wicket demolition of Namibia, as Khan with four and Roland Lefebvre three as they made 90. Their game against Fiji followed a similar pattern as Lefebvre and Peter Cantrell took four wickets apiece as the Pacific island side mustered 96 – Tim De Leede’s 48 ensuring a six wicket win as they topped the group.

Canada joined them as Sukhjinder Rana took five wickets in their win against Fiji, while Muneeb Diwan – who had played first-class cricket with Essex – hit 125 as they overcame Namibia by 60 runs.

Their venue against The Netherlands was originally set to host the Israel v Gibraltar match on the same day but organisers got wind that there was going to be a protest against Israel so they switched venues at the last minute hoping that the protesters would turn up, see that Israel weren’t there and go away. However the protesters turned up and had no idea who was playing and invaded the field anyway. The disturbances caused damage to the pitch and the umpires had to call the game off.

However they won their third game by four wickets chasing 180 against the combined Africans.

In Group D, Scotland were joined by Hong Kong, Bermuda, Papua New Guinea and Italy. The Scots got off to a solid start as three wickets apiece for Kevin Thomson and Keith Sheridan helped them to a six wicket win against PNG, while 67 from Mike Smith and three wickets apiece for John Blain, Stuart Kennedy and Greg Williamson ensured an 87-run win over Hong Kong. Openers Bryn Lockie and Ian Philip both scored fifties in an opening stand of 127 as they beat Italy – former Tasmanian cricketer Ian Beven taking four wickets for the Scots, who made it four from four with a 57-run win against Bermuda – Mike Allingham taking three wickets.

Scotland's Mike Smith batting against IrelandScotland's Mike Smith batting against Ireland (©CricketEurope)

They were joined by Hong Kong in the next phase after a close encounter with Bermuda, successfully chasing 228 thanks to half centuries from Riaz Farcy and Rahul Sharma. Other highlights in the group was Janeiro Tucker’s 104 for Bermuda against PNG, and Farcy’s 102 as Hong Kong beat Italy.

The next phase saw Kenya grouped with Scotland, Canada and Denmark where there was little margin for error. Two games were washed out (Canada v Scotland and Kenya v Denmark) as the heavy rain showers began to take effect as the tension increased.

Scotland got off to a winning start against Denmark with George Salmond making 59 and Beven again among the wickets – taking four in the 45-run win. Kenya demolished Canada by 160 runs with Maurice Odumbe hitting 148 and Steve Tikolo 93 in a stand of 201. The final round of group games saw Kenya top the group as they beat Scotland by 26 runs in a rain affected game. Kenya had posted 153 and Scotland limped to 37 for 3 in 23 overs before being unable to continue. Despite the loss Scotland were in the semi-finals with two chances at a World Cup place.

In the other group Bangladesh beat Hong Kong by seven wickets, while Ireland edged out The Netherlands in another rain affected contest. The game was evenly poised with Ireland 91 for 3 (23 overs) replying to 211, when play was called off. It was a huge boost for the Irish who now stood one game away from the last four. They looked beaten in the next game having been dismissed for 129 by Bangladesh but rain won the day, much to the dismay of their players and sizeable support, who made their displeasure known by surrounding the umpires and officials portakabin. The Dutch game also was abandoned with them 16 for 0 chasing 170. The final matches were in effect shoot-outs and it was Bangladesh who prevailed against Netherlands and Ireland against Hong Kong. Bangladesh were in early trouble at 15 for 4 but Akram Khan’s half century got them home, while Ireland beat Hong Kong thanks to a solid batting display – Angus Dunlop top scoring with 64 – and then the bowlers took over with three wickets for Paul McCrum and Peter Gillespie.

Kenyan left arm spinner Karim bowling against IrelandKenyan left arm spinner Karim bowling against Ireland (©CricketEurope)

The semi-finals pitted Bangladesh against Scotland, while Kenya took on Ireland. Half centuries from Aminul Islam and Khaled Mashud led Bangladesh to a comfortable 72-run win - Mohammad Rafique taking four wickets. The Irish got within seven runs of Kenya chasing 215, but left themselves too much to do after getting bogged down, despite the best efforts of Derek Heasley and Peter Gillespie.

Scotland v Ireland: getting the ground fit for playScotland v Ireland: getting the ground fit for play (©CricketEurope)

So a dreaded shoot-out ensued between Ireland and Scotland, a real all or nothing affair. In the event rain again played a part with the Scots showing more craft and canniness as they won by 50 runs – nine Irish out caught as the pressure told, with Keith Sheridan getting four wickets. So the Scots celebrated a first World Cup while the Irish had plenty of time to reflect on what might have been…

Scotland celebrate their World Cup qualificationScotland celebrate their World Cup qualification (©CricketEurope)

So Kenya and Bangladesh played the final but it too was rain-affected going into the second day. It too spilled over into a second day and what should have been a thrilling finish ended in comical fashion with both teams thinking they had won. Kenya had made 241 for7 with Steve Tikolo - the best Associate batsman of his generation – top scoring with 147.

Rain meant a revised total with the scoreboard showed a DL target of 166 from 25 overs. Kenya took this to mean that Bangladesh, having lost more wickets, would need to better it to win. Bangladesh read it (correctly) that they needed 166 for victory rather than bettering it. So at 165-8, with a ball to bowl, Kenya pushed all their fielders back on the edge of the circle, so Bangladesh duly nudged a single and both sides celebrated….Cue chaos and scenes of unbridled joy as Bangladesh received the trophy and three years later would be granted Full Membership status.

Kenya’s Maurice Odumbe (517) and Steve Tikolo (392) led the run scoring charts ahead of Dekker Curry (391), Riaz Farcy (391) and Alan Lewis (370). Three bowlers led the wickets tally with Kenya’s Aasif Karim, Asim Khan (Netherlands) and Mohammad Rafique (Bangladesh) all taking 19, just ahead of Denmark’s Soren Sorensen (18) and Kenya’s Martin Suji (17).

Bangladesh were the championsBangladesh were the champions