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A brief history of cricket

Cricket in Ireland

As with almost every Country in which the game is played the English brought cricket to Ireland. the game was introduced to the Garrison towns of Kilkenny and Ballinasloe in the early 1800's. The spread began in the 1830's and many clubs, still in existence today, were founded in the next 30 years.

The first Irish National team took the field in 1855 long before any Test Match was ever played. The match was -v- The Gentlemen of England in Dublin.

Charles Lawrence, an Englishman, was in Dublin playing, coaching and developing the game in Ireland in the 1850's. He went to Australia with H.H. Stevenson's team in 1861 and stayed to coach the ever growing numbers playing there.

The touring professional teams all came to Ireland in the 1850's and 1860's. The first match -v- M.C.C. was in 1858.

The spread of cricket continued until the early 1880's. Two events then became retarding factors. The first was the outbreak of land wars when Landlord and Tenant were alienated. the second was a ban placed on the playing of "foreign" games by the Gaelic Athletic Association who are the guardians of the native Irish games of Hurling and Gaelic Football. Incredibly this ban was not lifted until 1970. If a player played the extremely popular Irish games he could not play the "foreign" games. If he did he would be banned from the Irish games.

Another set back to cricket came in 1921 when Southern Ireland became an Independent State. Out went the Lord Lieutenant and his court, the army and the Civil Servants and cricket lost many fine players.

Despite these factors the game prospered. Ireland sent teams to Canada and U.S.A. in 1879, 1888, 1892 and 1909. Many high class teams were entertained in Ireland. In 1904 the South Africans were beaten in Cork.

The Annual match with Scotland began in 1909 and has been played ever since. After isolated games in the last century an Annual match -v- M.C.C. began in 1924.

Between the wars the Test playing countries began to visit Ireland starting with West Indies in 1928. On them Ireland inflicted their first defeat in a three day match in mid-June.

An embryo Irish Cricket Union began in 1890 but only limped along until 1923. The Union we know today is the one founded in that year.

The post was era began with a match -v- Scotland in 1946 and so there have been 50 post war seasons. The fixture list expanded. County teams began to visit Ireland, as well as the Test playing countries. Entry to the Gillette Cup (Nat. West from 1981 onwards) was achieved in 1980 and to the Benson & Hedges in 1994. Tours were made to America and Canada in 1973 and twice to Zimbabwe in 1986 and 1991. In 1993 began the Triple Crown Series, involving matches between Ireland, England N.C.A., Scotland and Wales. Entry to I.C.C. in 1993 allowed Ireland to compete in the I.C.C. Associate Members' Trophy in 1994 finishing seventh of 20 countries and qualifying for the semi finals in 1997. 1996 saw the initial European Championship, hosted by Denmark with Ireland being the inaugural winners. This is intended to be a bienial event.

The change in the game's overall structure to a greater preponderance of Limited Overs Circuit has been reflected in the programme of the Irish Cricket Union. Prior to 1981, the year of our entry into the Gillette Cup, Ireland had never played an official Limited Overs match. The few such games that had been played were non-cap matches. Thus the first 305 matches played by Ireland were all time games, including one-day games played. Since the first official Limited Overs Match in 1980, Ireland has played 203 matches in all, of which 123 have been Limited Overs. Even this percentage is continuing to rise. In 1998 there were 22 matches in all played of which 20 were Limited Overs and a further 5 Limited Overs matches scheduled were abandoned without a ball being bowled.



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