Van der Merwe to the rescue
Albert van der Merwe made an impressive first appearance in Irish colours as Ireland A hauled themselves back into the match against a Sussex XI at Chichester.
After rain delayed the start of their three-day game until after lunch, the bowlers had no answer to a fourth wicket stand of 164, but when van der Merwe, the South-Africa born former Derriaghy professional, broke the partnership after 167 minutes, Ireland A took another four wickets for just 50 runs.
Indeed apart from Ollie Rayner’s dominant 120, including 17 fours and two sixes, and Michael Norris’s rearguard 53, lasting three and a half hours, only two other batsmen scraped into double figures.
Ireland A coach Adi Birrell did not have to condemn any of his squad to 12th man duties as Sussex agreed to play 12-a-side and it was Eddie Richardson, who will not bat, who was the most successful pace bowler, but all five used by skipper Andre Botha bowled steadily.
Van der Merwe’s off spin out-bowled slow left-armer Gary Kidd who, having been upstaged by Paul Stirling in the West Indies, slipped further down the pecking order after a fruitless 14 overs.
Birrell was grateful to have a quartet of opening batsmen in his line-up because when Sussex’s declaration left Ireland A with eight overs to bat, the visitors needed all four, with Chris Dougherty and Rory McCann both leg before victims.
But at least James Hall and Niall McDonnell were in familiar roles when they faced the new ball.
Team A: S Thompson (captain, Limavady GS), M Best (Methodist College), S Campbell
(Coleraine AI), R Ewing (Campbell College), J Glenn (Foyle & L’derry Coll), C Grieve (Lurgan College), C Harkness (Campbell College), M Martin (Grosvenor GS), D Murdock (Foyle & L’derry Coll), G McCarter (Foyle & L’derry Coll), J McClerkin (BRA), B McIlroy (Methodist College), J Onyekwelu (Bangor GS).
Team B: N Donnell (captain, Foyle & L’derry Coll), R Adair (Sullivan Upper), A Berry (Methodist College), C Burns (Bangor GS), C Campbell (Foyle & L’derry Coll), A Clarke (Foyle & L’derry Coll), J Elliott (RBAI), M Fleming (Foyle & L’derry Coll), P Moon (Limavady GS), R McKinley (Larne GS), M Palmer (BRA), A Shields (Grosvenor GS), B Wylie (RBAI).