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Ireland Under 19: International Tournaments
1989 International Youth Tournament
Oxford, England

It may not have been ‘The playing fields of Eton’ but it wasn’t a ‘kick in the ****’ off it! The 7th International Youth Tournament in 1989 came to Radley College in Oxfordshire, a school that boasted its own golf course, in the middle of which lived the ‘Master of Hounds’ with his pack of Beagles, just beside the Trout Lake! Where else could you visit a ‘tuck shop’ that sold Beagling Jackets and Fishing Rods alongside Mars Bars?

There we had our first look also at a ‘plastic’ hockey pitch surrounded by a ‘Tartan’ running track and of course there was a swimming pool and a shooting range adjacent to the armoury, which was complete with its own fleet of ‘military’ vehicles and someone with a wry sense of humour had allocated us the accommodation next door!

Ireland had finished third at the 1987 tournament played in Belfast but the expectation was that things would be more difficult in this year’s competition. As expected the two English sides, containing quite a few players already under contract to various county sides, filled the first two spots, but the Irish boys did themselves proud by retaining third position, their only losses coming to the two host teams.

It was suggested by some that perhaps this was in fact a better performance than that of 1987, given that the opposition standards appear to have improved over the past couple of seasons.

The competition began with a heavy defeat at the hands of the eventual winners, England South, for whom Toby Radford scored an unbeaten century in a total of 248 for 2. Only when Trevor Dagg was batting did the impossible ever look other than that, and when he was out for 64 a position of 90/2 quickly became 138 all out. It would transpire that his would be the only half-century made against either England side during the tournament.

A strange, possibly unique, feature of this game was that the Ireland attack was opened by a pair of left-arm seamers, Eddie Moore and John Power. England not to be outdone opened theirs with Mark Ilott and Richard Edmunds again both left-arm seamers! Ilott with 3-10 and Edmunds 5-11 had much the better of the day. Tragically Richard Edmunds was to die in a car crash only four months later.

The following day all three matches were abandoned due to rain, Ireland disappointed that the expected two points against Denmark did not materialise.

The first victory was achieved on Day 3, albeit very narrowly, when Brían O’Rourke steered Ireland home to a thrilling one-wicket victory over Netherlands with only five balls to spare.

Ireland were reduced to 45/4 in their pursuit of the Netherlands 152/7 but opener O’Rourke and Michael Anderson added 68 for the fifth wicket to seemingly steady the ship.

However when Neil McCall was sixth out at 139, André van Troost struck three times to leave Ireland teetering on the brink still needing 6 more to win. Van Troost returned figures of 4-15 in his 10 overs but it was to be Ireland’s day as O’Rourke carried his bat for an unbeaten 72 in the tightest of wins.

Ireland’s frailty against spin was then cruelly exposed by England North. On the 3rd rated square of ten the College possesses, a pitch totally conducive to spin, Jeremy Batty’s off-breaks earned him 5-9 while left-armer Matthew Doidge claimed 3-9 as Ireland were bowled out for 68 in a laborious 40 overs O’Rourke battling his way to top score with 17.

England decided after losing John Crawley and Bradley Parker for only 12, that in the conditions attack was the best form of defence. Simon Green was dropped before he had scored and made Ireland pay with a rapid 39* (6x4, 1x6) which saw England race to victory in the eighteenth over.

Ireland got back to winning ways the next day when Fergal O’Doherty (3-19) and Michael McCord (3-25) bowled Bermuda out for 113, Eddie Moore and Michael Anderson each picking up a brace each. Ireland cruised home with Trevor Dagg (41*) and Jonathan Craig (24*) reaching the target with an unbroken fifth wicket partnership of 51.

The final game against Canada was effectively a play-off for third place. Ireland made 182 for 8 in their 50 overs, with skipper John Fitzpatrick registering a half-century.

Early strikes by Eddie Moore and Craig Irwin meant Canada were immediately on the back foot and with Michael Anderson’s off-spin claiming 3-15 in his ten overs and Moore finishing with 3-21 in his 10 the opposition were strangled and Ireland secured their third place in the tournament with an emphatic 94 run win.

Neil McCall shared his memories of the tournament:

“The tournament was set in the idyllic and opulent surroundings of Radley College’s 800 acre grounds. The facilities included a golf course, boating and fishing lake, farmland and extensive playing fields including the three pitches side by side that were used for the tournament. At Radley we were treading in the footsteps of Ted Dexter, Andrew Strauss, Robin Martin-Jenkins, Ben Hutton, Peter Cook & Herr Flick from the ‘Allo ‘Allo TV series as all are amongst its famous alumni!

We played some competitive cricket throughout the week & finished a creditable 3rd. behind both the England teams that included a number of players who went on to much greater things: – Toby Radford (briefly the Cricket Ireland Academy Manager, former Windies batting coach and now Head Coach of the Bangladeshi Cricket High Performance Unit) who scored a quite sublime century against us in our opening game.

  • Mark Ilott (5 Tests) who returned figures of 3-10 in the same game ended as the tournament’s leading wicket taker.
  • Robert Croft (21 Tests & 50 ODIs);
  • Chris Adams (5 Tests & 5 ODIs);
  • David Hemp (22 ODIs for Bermuda & now coach of the Pakistan Women Cricket Team);
  • Dominic Cork (37 Tests & 32 ODIs & now TV pundit).

Even as an 18 or 19 year old, Cork was already crafting his ‘rebellious’ bad boy character – when a Fire Alarm sounded prompting an early morning roll call by coaching staff, Dominic was found to be the only player missing from his room, forcing him into a ‘walk of shame’ at breakfast next morning, in front of all of the other teams, to issue his apology to the English North management.

Although we were outplayed by both of the English teams we were able to exact some revenge in the battle of the inaugural slip catch ‘DONKEY’ when Brían O’Rourke and myself (albeit wearing wicketkeeping gloves) pulled off a stunning victory over their English South counterparts!

Among the more notable on field contributions were Trevor Dagg’s quick fire 64 against England South; John Fitzpatrick’s patiently crafted 57 in the crucial game against Canada and Brían O’Rourke’s calmly composed match winning 72n.o. against the Dutch.

A couple amusing on-field ‘incidents’ also stick out: Firstly, John Power’s complaint about not being able to get his run-up right, ‘coming down the hill’ against England South on a pitch flatter than a billiard table.

Then the look on Michael McCord’s face when he had one of the Canadian batsmen caught at first slip (think Broad via Haddin to Clarke in the 2013 Ashes First Test at Trent Bridge but much worse), only for the umpire to give it ‘not out’ (think Agar to Broad edged via Haddin to Clarke in the 2013 Ashes First Test at Trent Bridge - but much worse), because he was unsighted by Michael’s follow through! Darren Lehman had nothing on the death stares that day!

One of the outstanding features of the week was the camaraderie and team spirit between the boys. This was encapsulated when with no match scheduled the following day, four of the squad headed out for a quiet evening to play pool in the local village of Abingdon. En route home they instructed the taxi to drop them off in the centre of Radley village, some half a mile from the college – then three of them bolted leaving the fourth, lying asleep in the back seat to escape the clutches of an irate driver trying to recoup his fare. What followed was a Benny Hill like chase, up and down quiet country lanes, through back gardens & hedgerows before finally making it back to the sanctuary of the college dorm.

One other stand out memory of the week was a day spent watching England take on the Aussies in the Ashes Third Test at Edgbaston.

It was a match that had been curtailed by rain over the first three days but all of the competing teams were able to enjoy a day in the sun watching Dean Jones amass 157 in the Australians 1st. Innings total of 424. Then Alderman, Lawson & Hughes reduced England to 75 for 5 before Jack Russell & the returning talisman Ian Botham staged a recovery putting on 96 and all but ending Australia’s chance of victory as they crept past the follow-on target.

That match also featured the debut of a youthful Angus Fraser who finally captured the wicket of Steve Waugh, dismissed for the first time in the series, leaving him with an average of 393.00!”

Brían O Rourke was Ireland’s hero in the win over Canada “I have very fond memories of the Radley College trip, not just the cricket we played against England, but the facilities, the welcome, the atmosphere, and camaraderies formed with teammates and opposition players.

I vividly remember that the competing English sides were of a very high standard, mostly county contract players, several who arrived to Radley in their sponsored cars.

Back then, our squad would have had little practice together in the lead up to the tournament however many of us had played together the previous summer with the Irish Schools side who played 2-day fixtures against both England at Rathmines and Wales at Ynysygerwn CC.

We secured excellent wins in Radley over Bermuda, Netherlands & Canada and only the professional English teams were able to halt us, who included Dominic Cork, a late replacement for the injured Darren Gough, who was exceptional to face. Easily the best bowler I played against in my career, and who we had the misfortunate of playing against again just three weeks later when he lined out for Staffordshire vs Leinster U19s at the annual Oxford Festival.

Best batsman: Simon Green (England North) A high quality batsman who played for Warwickshire Notable mention must go to our own Trevor Dagg who showed zero respect to the England South spinners Robert Croft (Glamorgan) & Min Patel (Kent) scoring 64 with 10 boundaries in our total of 138.

Best bowler: André Van Troost (Netherlands) who was beginning to make a name for himself around this time and impressed many with his pace during this tournament. Another notable mention here to left arm seamer Eddie Moore, who was the match for any of the excellent seamers on show, spearheading our attack each day and gaining many admirers for his skill, stamina and determination to achieve success for the team.”

England South may have won the Tournament, England North may have been runners-up but the real winners during that week were the ‘Rest of the World’ who were victorious over England in the ‘Aunt Sally’ Series at The Bowyer Arms.

‘Aunt Sally’ is worth a Google - suffice it to say it’s a Pub Garden game involving throwing lengths of wood at a target (Sally). It is peculiar to Oxfordshire I understand, certainly peculiar enough to feature in an episode of Midsomer Murders and in which Joyce Barnaby showed herself to be considerably more expert than any of the Cricket Managers and Coaches in 1989!

Ireland squad

  • John Fitzpatrick, captain
  • Sean Hargan
  • Trevor Dagg
  • Michael Anderson
  • Michael McCord
  • Neil McCall
  • John Power
  • Craig Irwin
  • Fergal O’Doherty
  • Jonathan Craig
  • Eddie Moore
  • Anto Canavan
  • Brían O’Rourke
  • Michael Marsh (manager)
  • Ian Johnston (coach)