Rain, rain go away the Australians are coming
It was raining at Belfast City Hall yesterday, just as it was the last time Australia played at Stormont, three years ago.
But this time a light drizzle did not stop cricket being played on the Front Lawn for the first time as Cricket Ireland started the official countdown to the world champions' next visit to Belfast, two months tomorrow.
Ireland World Cup players Stuart Thompson, Andy McBrine and Craig Young were present, along with schoolchildren from Donegall Road Primary and St John the Baptist Primary as part of Belfast City Council's 'Try it Day'.
For Thompson and McBrine, it will be a case of hoping they will be selected for what will be their first game against Australia, although both played there at this year's World Cup finals.
"It should be a great day and hopefully we will get a big crowd at Stormont. I had a couple of good games at the World Cup (against West Indies and South Africa), really enjoyed it and will keep working hard for the next couple of months," said McBrine.
Thompson added: "I've played in the West Indies, and against India and Pakistan in New Zealand and Australia but it would be great to play against the world champions at home and if we get another 6,000+ crowd, it promises to be a great spectacle. If we get a good day it should be unbelievable."
When the Aussies were here in 2012, Young was contracted to Sussex but was "lying with my feet up, injured".
He recalled: "I was watching on television and remember Brett Lee's first three balls (when he dismissed William Porterfield and Ed Joyce) and thinking what's going to happen next. But it would be lovely to involved and get up against them and see how it is. It will be another big day for Ireland and hopefully the weather is better than last time and we get the chance to show what we can do."
With the game on Thursday August 27 coming directly after the final Test match in the Ashes and a week before the five-match ODI series between the teams, Australia, under captain Michael Clarke, will have their full strength squad on duty and everyone is just hoping that rather more than 10.4 overs (the length of the game on their last visit) will be played this time.
Tickets are on sale from Ticketmaster or from Cricket Ireland at www.cricketireland.ie
First up for Ireland are the World Twenty20 Qualifiers next month and after losing to Scotland last week, Young is focused on getting it right next month.
"We know we didn't play to our strengths in the two games against Scotland but it gives us a real reason to focus even harder now and the first training session we had this week was the best I have ever been involved in, anywhere," he said.
"It gave us a real kick up the backside and hopefully we will see the benefits in the Qualifiers."
Ulster Schools lost their annual two-day game against Southern Schools by seven wickets.
Despite a last wicket stand of 39 - Lewis McNamara last man out for 30 - Ulster were asked to follow on 136 behind the home side's first innings of 291. Despite 80 from captain John Matchett, Ulster were bowled out a second time for 191. Two wickets for Aaron Gillespie in the final innings only delayed the inevitable.