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Worcestershire lost to Ireland by 94 runs
Friends Provident Trophy, Worcester, 20 May 2009
Ian Callender

It may have taken six matches but this made Ireland's wait for a first victory of the summer well worth it.

Worcestershire needed only a point to reach the quarter finals of the Friends Provident Trophy and a win over Ireland, bottom of the Group A table appeared a formality. Step forward Peter Connell with the one-day bowling performance of his career and 20.3 overs later, Ireland had not just beaten their county opponents - they had hammered them.

Never before in 29 years of trying, had Ireland bowled a county out for less than 100. Yesterday, at New Road, Worcestershire barely reached half that as they were skittled for their record-low score of 58, Connell finishing with five for 19. In a golden spell he took the five wickets for three runs in 14 balls as the team that had won four of its six completed games were reduced to 21 for six. Indeed, in the space of 13 balls they lost five wickets for one run!

It was a performance, according to Connell, waiting to happen.

"I was happy with the way I have been bowling in the opening spells. Some days it comes off and even the county pros will play and miss and nick occasionally if you bowl a decent line, so it is a case of working hard at your own game," he said.

"We were by no means out of it at lunch (after totalling 152). I thought anything over 140 gave us a chance if we bowled to our ability. We have let ourselves down (this season) batting on a couple of occasions and bowling on two or three others but more results like this will raise the profile. Hopefully, more consistency will get us more big games."

Certainly, if Ireland's batting and bowling come off on the same day they can be a match for any county and although they were 38 for four and 75 for six themselves yesterday, Trent Johnston and Kyle McCallan put on 57 for the seventh wicket in a defiant partnership spanning 14 overs which, ultimately, won the game. Jeremy Bray and Alex Cusack, batting at No 3 after Reinhardt Strydom was left out, fell in the first seven overs, when Ireland had only eight runs on the board, and although opener Paul Stirling (19) and Kevin O'Brien (13) attempted the fight back, both were dismissed by the end of the 17th over.

Andrew White (5) was unlucky to be the victim of a spectacular two handed catch on the boundary by the young Dutchman, Alexei Kervezee, and Andrew Poynter again looked good while he was there but, after Johnston was caught at long-on, the last three could not bat out the overs, with Regan West, three off 16 balls, again failing in Ireland colours.

Ireland had actually the worst of the conditions, having been put into bat, but no-one told Connell as his ninth ball found the edge of Vikram Solanki's blade. Stephen Moore was then caught at second slip, next ball Moeen Ali played on and although Kervezee had no trouble ducking out of the way of the hat-trick ball, Kevin O'Brien got him next over, the ball thudding into his pads.

Still Connell was not finished and in his next over, opener Stephen Davies was caught at mid-off and Gareth Batty was leg before.

Even when the North Down bowler was taken off - he conceded nine off his seventh over - McCallan was still able to call on his Mr Dependables, Johnston and Cusack, and they duly finished the job to give Ireland a memorable fifth win over a county.

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