Ryan Samuel Haire
Ryan Haire, son of Robin and brother of Andrew, is an exceptional and genuine all round cricketer. He is, of course, best known for his left hand batting in the upper order.
At his best when playing his shots - particularly his flowing cover drive - he has often had a devastating effect on rival attacks.
Thus was particularly so in the years when he and Neil Russell formed a vigorous opening partnership for North Down, but his aggressive approach is still very evident, when he is more likely to be seen at No 3.
He is also a good leg spinner, capable as he has shown on at least one memorable occasion of running through a senior side. Additionally he is, when the need arises, a capable reserve wicket keeper and a keen tactician.
Having led his club in the 2006 season, winning the Ulster Cup and the NCU Premier League, he has once more taken up the captaincy for 2013, following the resignation of Peter Shields.
He was a fine schoolboy cricketer at Regent House being together with Shields and Andrew White, a member of the side which carried off the Schools' Cup in 1998 overwhelming Campbell College in the Final by 114 runs. All three were already established members of North Down's 1st XI and had distinguished themselves at representative level.
In Ryan's case this had been seen particularly in the Northern Ireland U15 tours of the North and Midlands of England in 1995 and 1996. In the latter year, he was the undoubted star performer, making an undefeated 78 in a 4 wickets defeat inflicted by Staffordshire and taking 3-41 in a narrow loss to Warwickshire. Victory was achieved in the final match against Cheshire with Ryan (48) again in the runs.
He gained selection for Ireland U19, under Shields' captaincy, in the European Championships of 1999, played on grounds in and around Belfast. His 15* helped bring victory over the Netherlands, but, though the Irish side included seven future full internationals, they were beaten by England in the tournament final, the victors including several future county players and an aggressive looking batsman named Matt Prior.
Ireland qualified for the U19 World Cup in Sri Lanka that winter, where the team were rightly impressed by the Australian captain Michael Clarke. Ryan top scored in the match against Sri Lanka, his 39 at No 5 helping Ireland to a semi respectable 134. He and John Mooney rescued their side from a dire 27-5 with a stand of 63, "John Boy" making 34.
Ryan was also seen to good effect in the Irish Universities team in the British Universities tournaments of 2002 and 2004. Thus against Scotland in the former year he and fellow North Down man David Kennedy helped Ireland to victory with a 4th wicket stand of 70. Ryan made a 90-minute 66 from 67 balls with 11 fours.
Two years later, however, he surpassed this against Wales. Facing a formidable 294-9, Ireland were 39-2 when Ryan came in. Facing only 68 balls he raced to 92 with 11 fours and 3 sixes. By the time he was dismissed the balance of the match had swung, Ireland going on to win by 2 wickets.
However Ryan's most memorable performances have always been for North Down. He has aggregated over 800 runs in a season on 7 occasions, with a best of 1216 at 57.90 in 2010 when his highest score was 158 against Ballymena at The Green. This match, which ended in an overwhelming victory for the hosts saw Ryan, at 3, and opener Andrew Sutherland put on 261 for the second wicket before Ryan was out, Sutherland going on to 119. Incidentally, in the end of season return match at Eaton Park, they put on and unbroken 156 to secure a 9 wickets victory, Ryan reaching 79 and Sutherland 74.
Last (2012) season, Ryan was one of three NCU batsmen to narrowly miss out on four figures, the so called summer weather undoubtedly depriving them of the target. He made 954 runs at 47.50 besides heading the North Down bowling averages with 28 wickets at 24.46. His highest score was 156 when he and Sutherland added 233 for the second wicket in a Groundhog Day display against the luckless Ballymena attack!
Ryan's best bowling in Senior Cricket to date was achieved against Civil Service North at Stormont in his prolific season of 2010. Having contributed 51 to a total of 271-6, he came on to bowl third change with the hosts struggling to stay in the match. With figures of 5.4-1-10-6, he wrapped up the innings for 82, having had a good afternoon's work.
Some of his most memorable innings for the Club have come in the NCU Challenge Cup, in which he has, at the time of writing, posted six centuries, the highest 147 against Downpatrick in the second round of the 2008 competition. Described as a "tremendous innings", it included 19 fours and 4 sixes, setting up victory by 135 runs.
However, in the opinion of many, his best knock in the Cup was his 109* against NICC at Ormeau in 2001. This was a historic match. The last two day final, the last one to be played at Ormeau and the last one to be played by NICC, it was also, in terms of the teams involved, a repeat of the first ever final of 1887.
Batting first North Down looked like squandering a good start, declining to 87-3, as Ryan, having just come in, ran out his father, who had been destined to play the anchor role. Robin's dismissal brought about a change of tactics as Ryan and Peter Shields launched into an exhibition of brilliant batting, dominating the hosts' attack. With Peter content to play second fiddle, Ryan went to a superb hundred just before the overs ran out.
Leading by 84 on the first innings, North Down were able to set a formidable target, after father and son had had a more productive second innings partnership. A 93 runs victory was recorded with Ryan deservedly Man of the Match.
Unfortunately, he has not always been seen to such advantage in representative cricket. He has played 11 matches for Ireland A having two notable performances to his credit. In 2003 in the A teams' European Championships, he was the only batsman to make any impression against the Netherlands as a good looking Irish side collapsed against some accurate bowling. Coming in at 5, Ryan was never really in trouble, making 60* as his team - mates and Mr Extras mustered another 63 between them. Almost half of these came from the captain John Mooney (18).
Five years later Ryan led the side against MCC at Radlett, seeing his team to a useful 322, his contribution being a typically belligerent 123, retired out. Eventually he set MCC 320 to win, which they achieved by 2 wickets, the last ball of the match being hit for 6. Ryan, who put himself on to bowl late in the innings took 3-33. Perhaps he should have bowled earlier or retired a few runs later!
Ryan's appearances for the full Irish side have been limited to seven, causing many - not just in Comber - to ask the question why? He made 31* in his debut match against MCC at Eglinton in 2000. This was a rain ruined game with MCC winning on scoring rate when the weather ended the Irish innings. Ryan, easily top scorer, was left to wonder what he might have achieved.
He did not, however, contribute greatly to Ireland' s cause in the remaining matches of the season, but it still seem strange that he did not receive another chance until 2008, when he was called into the side for the Triangular ODI series with New Zealand and Scotland in the "granite city" of Aberdeen.
In company with the rest of the side he failed against the Black Caps as Ireland crashed to a humiliating defeat, but he shone in the 5 wickets defeat suffered at the hand of Scotland. Coming in at 66-4 with Ireland needing quick runs, he added 65 with White before the latter was out. Ryan went on to 54 before being caught in the gulley, slashing at a ball outside off stump.
Batting 63 balls, he hit 1 six, the only "maximum" of the day, and 7 fours. His six, a towering shot off medium pacer Berrington, was followed by a superb cover drive off the same bowler and then another 4 to bring up his half century. However, though he survived a missed chance at deep square leg, Berrington caught him at backward point. Had he been able to bat the closing overs with Kyle McCallan, Ireland would probably have reached a defendable total. As it was the total posted 210-8 was never going to be enough.
Away from actually playing cricket, Ryan has proved a top class coach at The Green and, as Cricket Development Officer, has done much outstanding work with the Club's age group sides. The same diligence is to be seen in his work as Sports Development Officer for Belfast City Council.
There can be little doubt, that as he prepares to lead North Down into their 2013 campaign, Ryan Samuel Haire will continue to delight team- mates and spectators alike with his stroke play, leg spin, and tremendous dedication to the game to which he has already contributed so much.
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