|Ground:||North Inch, Perth|
|Scorecard:||Scotland v Ireland|
|Event:||Ireland in Scotland 1909|
DateLine: 3rd February 2013
The Scoto-Irish International, played on the North Inch Perth, was begun yesterday under somewhat depressing weather conditions, which not only limited actual play to under three hours, but detracted not a little from the interest taken in the contest. There were two long delays owing to rain after lunch, and though the Perth wicket is notable for its quick recoveries after a wetting, it is probable that the Scotsmen, who may be said to have made the most of their opportunities in scoring 239 in two hours and three quarters, have had the best of the weather, and that they are already in a pretty safe position. The uncertainty of the weather, combined with numerous changes in the original teams, told too, against the attendance, which at the best would not exceed 1500.
Scotland made an excellent start yesterday, and if there were any who said or thought that L. M. Balfour-Melville should not have been in the Scottish eleven, the veteran gave such critics the best of answers by scoring, in characteristic fashion, a splendid 91. What a pity he did not get his hundred: even his opponents would not have grudged him it, though they were only too pleased to get rid of him from the first chance he gave during a stay of just over an hour and a half.
Ninety one in ninety five minutes is rapid scoring enough, but "L. M." never gave the idea that he was forcing the game, as he does at times in club fixtures and if he had one or two risky shots through the slips or a pull that he did not get a proper hold of, he never gave a chance that actually went to hand. The nearest approach to such a thing was to Bourchier, who was fielding deep in slip near the ropes, and desperately though the fielder tried to get at the ball, yet he was well clear of it when it dropped.
The Scottish captain, as usual, got most of his runs by drives to the on. Perhaps it is the beautifully picturesque surroundings of the ground, or it may be the excellent wicket that he always gets there, but in any case Balfour-Melville seldom plays on the North Inch without getting runs. Yesterday's innings may not have been one of the best, but there was still the old dash and the old power, and there was good sport going as long as he was at the wicket. He had fourteen 4's and he scored 91 out of 153 while batting.
He and Joe Anderson gave the side a splendid lead when they put on over a hundred for the first wicket. Anderson played a quiet game in comparison to his partner, and of the total of 111 for the first wicket he had but 31. It was a valuable innings all the same, and so was that of Tait, who had hard luck in not reaching his 50. The first three wickets all went to the credit of the wicket-keeper and captain of the side, Browning, who did splendid work behind the stumps. The manner of his disposal of Balfour Melville was extra fine, for the ball was wide on the off-side and was breaking away: yet so smartly did he nip off the bails, that the batsman never attempted to get back to his ground.
Jupp was out to a soft catch at point from a ball that rose awkwardly, and he was batting nicely at the time. Duncan and Murray, like the others, took advantage of the wet ball and the easy wicket, and runs came at a good pace to the end. Both had risky strokes through the slips without giving actual chances, and Murray had a fine off drive just before the finish.
The Irish eleven did not impress as being particularly strong. There was too great a similarity about their attack. A fast bowler and a "googlie" man were needed to give it variety. It lacked "devil" also. It seemed as if the wicket was too easy for the bowlers, and perhaps they will do better today should they get more assistance. The fielding, too, was slack at times, and unless they improve on their opening day's display, the notion that has hitherto prevailed in Scotland that Irish cricketers were a shade better than those of this country will run some risk of being got rid of. R.H. Lambert, the old Leith Caledonian man, was the best of the bowlers.
Scotland continued to do well yesterday in the international match with Ireland at Perth, so well indeed, that all records for a single innings score on the North Inch were easily broken. The grand total of the side was 485, and the previous best was 418, got by Gloucester in 1902 at the expense of the Scottish Counties. Heavy rain fell during the early part of the day, and there was only ten minutes play before lunch. On resuming, however, there were no more interruptions, and runs came freely on an easy wicket.
Webster played with delightful freedom, and got his runs without giving a chance in just over an hour's time, most of his strokes being nicely turned to leg, or powerful drives. The Aberdeenshire representative had six 4's and one 6, a fine straight drive over the palings.
It was a dashing display, but for sound, correct cricket, it was excelled by Thorburn, who, though the last man to be asked to play for Scotland, carried his bat for a splendid 90. He batted for two hours and five minutes practically without a mistake, and he got his runs all round the wicket, his best hits being eleven 4's and five 3's. Thorburn's play was quite the best of the innings. His seventh and tenth wicket partnerships with Webster and Chapel respectively were most prolific, the former bringing forth 88 runs and the latter 86.
Gardiner, the local hard hitter, had a slap-dash innings, which lasted eighteen minutes and yielded 28, but he was a trifle lucky, being let off twice in the long field in one over from the left-handed slow bowler Napper, who had just previously gone on, and seen Webster and Fraser caught in the slips in his opening over. The Scottish innings lasted almost exactly five hours, and to get 485 in that time represented very good going. The Irish ground fielding showed a distinct advance on that of the previous day, but the dropped catches did not permit of one complimenting the visitors on their work in this department, and with the exception of Lambert, who bowled continuously for an hour and three-quarters yesterday while the Scottish total was being raised from 240 to 440, the trundlers could never rise superior to the excellence and easiness of the wicket.
Ireland had an hour and twenty-five minutes batting, and they started badly, Chapel and Jupp opened the Scottish bowling, and wickets fell at 6, 22, and 32. Then L. Meldon and Lambert played with extreme care, and it was on the stroke of closing time before they were separated, after being together for forty-five minutes, and taking the score to 78. The wicket fell to Webster, who had not been asked to bowl till 60 had been scored.
As matters now stand, the Irishmen have still to get 257 to save the follow-on, and a keen struggle may be looked for today.
About a thousand to fifteen hundred people would be present yesterday.
After leading all through in the match at Perth, Scotland in the end won handsomely by an innings and 132 runs. It was a substantial enough victory, but as regards time, there was not much to spare, for there was barely fifteen minutes to go when the last wicket fell. At one time indeed, it looked as if the Scotsmen were to be denied of their purpose. Pollock and Lambert in the second innings made a great effort to save the situation for Ireland, and as long as they were together, and their partnership lasted for nearly an hour and a half, the balance was in favour of a draw. The departure of the old Leith Caledonian man was however the beginning of the end though, with but an hour to go, there was still a good chance of the Irishmen escaping, for at that point they still had six wickets in hand. Pollock was eighth man out, and after that the Irishmen never looked like lasting till time. Pollock batted for an hour and a half, and Lambert for twenty minutes less, and it was a fine catch by Balfour Melville in the slips that split up the troublesome partnership, and in doing so paved the way for the victory.
During the last hour and a half the game was full of interest: in fact the closing phase of the contest was the best of it from a spectator's point of view. In justice to the Irishmen, it should be said that they had the worst of the wicket. On Saturday morning it was in a fiery condition, and the Scottish captain took full use of Lovat Fraser who, bowling very fast, was making the ball rise awkwardly, and had the batsmen quite rattled. Lambert gave a sound display in both innings, and G.J. Meldon , in the second, played delightful cricket. The rolling of the wicket between the two Irish innings took all the sting out of the bowling, but towards the close again the trundlers were bothering the batsmen. Fraser took full advantage of the state of the pitch and his eight wickets for 76 was a fine bit of work. Chapel also bowled well, and took eight for 109.
About 3000 spectators were present of Saturday.
(Article: Copyright © 2013 Cricket Scotland http://cricketscotland.com)