Connell’s dream debut keeps Ireland on course for a hat-trick

Mon, Jul 14, 2008 3:46 PM

Ireland’s Peter Connell burst on to the first-class scene this week taking 10 wickets, including a hat-trick in the second innings, in his team’s demolition of the Netherlands in the ICC Intercontinental Cup match at Rotterdam.

Right-arm pace bowler Connell became just the 16th bowler in the long history of first-class cricket to capture three wickets in three balls on debut. It is a moment the 26-year-old North Down CC player will never forget.

"It doesn’t get much better than that," he said.

"It was a dream first-class debut for me, taking 10 wickets, and of course finishing with a hat-trick."

Connell’s hat-trick was just the third by an Ireland player since the first recognised international match in 1855. Former captain Trent Johnston took one against Gloucestershire in 2007 while TH Hanna was the first to manage the feat back in 1877 against I Zingari.

Connell’s match figures are the best by an Ireland player in a first-class game since former Lisburn, Middlesex and Ireland left-arm slow bowler Dermott Monteith took 12-95 against Scotland at the Mardyke, Cork in 1973.

"It was a job well done as far as the Ireland team are concerned, and obviously while I’m pleased with my own performance, it’s the team that matters most," said Connell.

"The longer form of the game helped me get into the groove and there will be worse pitches than that to have as a fast bowler. There was good carry, a bit of pace and movement. Having put 400 on the board, the skipper (Kyle McCallan) was able to exert pressure, and we had four and five slips most of the time. I grew in confidence as the game went on, and it’s great to contribute after I took a bit of tap against New Zealand (in a recent ODI at Aberdeen).

"Hopefully I’ve done enough to feature for the rest of the year, and I’d like to repeat this form in the important games ahead, especially in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in Belfast at the start of August. It’s a massive competition for us, and there’s so much at stake for all the Associates."

Ireland national coach Phil Simmons was also delighted with the way things went for his team in Rotterdam and is now eyeing a hat-trick of a different kind. Having won this competition on the previous two occasions, the Irish are going for three in a row.

"It’s very satisfying when things go to plan," said Simmons.

"We had a shaky start in the first hour, but after that we were positive and controlled every aspect of the game. The innings by Andre (Botha) was exceptional, but he’s a quality, consistent performer and this form of the game seems to bring out the best in him.

"We built big partnerships, which is the key in any form of cricket. I thought Kevin (O’Brien) batted with great maturity after his comeback from injury, and Andrew Poynter played an innings beyond his years.

"Once we got to 400, we were able to set attacking fields and the bowlers all did well. While Peter Connell will take all the plaudits - and rightly so - it was a real team effort and we never allowed our intensity to drop. The Dutch battled well in the second half of their response, but the second new ball did the trick, and what better way to finish than with a hat-trick? That was the icing on the cake for me.

"We’ve a big few months ahead of us - we will try to defend our European Championship title in Dublin and then of course we’re right bang in to the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier. There is another ICC Intercontinental Cup game against Canada, and also ODIs against Canada and Kenya.

"We’ve played a lot of cricket this past couple of years but that has allowed our fringe players to get a lot of experience under their belts. We took a bit of a hammering in Aberdeen but this result will get a lot of that out of our system, and give us confidence for the challenges that lie ahead," said Simmons.

Apart from Connell’s 10 wickets Ireland benefited from an imperious 172 by veteran Andre Botha earlier in the game which made sure the team claimed all 20 points on offer at Rotterdam.

Having taken four wickets in the first innings, Connell then really got into his stride second time around, removing six Netherlands batsmen to finish with the impressive match figures of 35-14-69-10.

Only Peter Borren (53) and Mudassar Bukhari (59 not out) put up any resistance for the Netherlands on the final day as the home side struggled in vain to save the match. In the end, the home side managed just 206 all out, falling 67 runs short of making Ireland bat for a second time.

The first time around, man of the match Andre Botha was the star hitting 172 out of his side’s total of 400-6 declared.

With Ireland claiming maximum points, this victory moves it up one spot to second place, leap-frogging Kenya in the process. It now lies just 13 points adrift of leader Namibia but with one game in hand.

The Netherlands now sits in fifth position as Scotland has just overtaken it following its 107-run victory in Bermuda. The Dutch have little or no chance of making the final as they have played more games than all those teams ahead of it. Scotland has an outside chance but it looks like it’s down to a three-horse race with Namibia, Ireland and Kenya left to fight it out for places in the final.

ICC Intercontinental Cup table (as of 14 July)

Team P W L D Pts

Namibia 5 5 0 0 82

Ireland 4 3 0 1 69

Kenya 4 3 1 0 66

Scotland 5 2 1 2 52

Netherlands 6 3 3 0 48

UAE 7 1 5 1 29

Canada 5 1 4 0 26

Bermuda 6 1 5 0 26

Six points for first innings lead

14 points for a win (so, maximum of 20 points per match)

Three points for a draw

Top two sides qualify for the final at a venue to be confirmed

Remaining fixtures:

16-19 Jul - Canada v Scotland, King City, Toronto

7-10 Aug - Ireland v Canada, Clontarf, Dublin

7-10 Aug - Scotland v Kenya, Titwood, Glasgow

16-19 Aug - Netherlands v Kenya, Amstelveen, Netherlands

3-6 Sep - Namibia v Bermuda, Wanderers, Windhoek

5-8 Oct - Namibia v Ireland, Wanderers, Windhoek

12-15 Oct - Kenya v Ireland, Nairobi

The full scorecard is available on the ICC website,

The ICC Intercontinental Cup has quickly grown in stature and profile since its inception three years ago and now the ICC’s premier first-class tournament is an integral part of the Associate Members’ cricket schedule.

Having previously been designed around a two-group, three-day format, the event has evolved into an eight-team, round-robin and truly global tournament featuring four-day cricket which gives those teams who do not play Test cricket the chance to experience the longer form of the game.

Scotland won the first ICC Intercontinental Cup in 2004, beating Canada in the final, while Ireland has been victorious in both events since then, beating Kenya in the 2005 decider and Canada in the 2006-07 event.

The final of the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2007-08 will take place in November 2008 at a venue yet to be confirmed.

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