There is something about the Ireland cricket team that you can’t stop admiring them. Being an inexperienced international side, they are more often than not on the losing side, but that doesn’t stop them from trying hard. The reasons they end up on the losing side are because of their obvious lack of talent and exposure against bigger sides. The case was no different against when Ireland took on England at Dublin in the only ODI before the latter went on to face the Aussies once again. For a decent part of the game, Ireland were in control, however they lacked the finishing punch both while batting and bowling.
There were two spectacular performances from Ireland’s side that deserve a mention. Opener and skipper William Porterfield led from the front with a wonderfully composed century. He played the perfect sheet anchor role, batting on till the start of the 46th over. It may be argued that Porterfield’s hundred was slightly on the slower side in the modern context since he ended up with a strike rate of 79. But, it must be taken into account that Ireland do not play enough top-level cricket to adapt quickly to changing playing conditions in one-dayers.
Another fact that must also be taken into account is that, unlike other openers from top-level sides, Porterfield couldn’t take excessive risk of going after the bowling knowing very well that his batting side isn’t among the strongest. Porterfield’s stand was vindicated since Ireland kept losing wickets at the other end even as the skipper was compiling his marathon. A lot was expected of the experienced O’Brien brothers – Niall and Kevin – and while they got starts, the fact that they couldn’t carry on to get bigger scores hurt Ireland’s cause in the end.
Under the circumstances, had Porterfield not held one end up for his side, they could have been in deeper trouble. In fact, they only managed to end up with a fighting total because Max Sorensen hit some smart strokes at the slog. Apart from Porterfield, the second great performance of the day for Ireland came from opening Tim Murtagh. After the experienced Trent Johnston had struck early, it was Murtagh’ spell during which he sent back three England batsmen cheaply that gave Ireland hope of a shock upset. Impressively, he kept the runs down even while not taking wickets.
The victory wasn’t to be though since Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara exposed Ireland’s weak, inexperienced bowling. After all the glimmers of hope, they were eventually pounded. But, Ireland shouldn’t be disappointed for they, yet again, did not disgrace themselves. They competed hard and, in all fairness, the stronger side won. If anything Ireland would have been left with a strange feeling that would be difficult to describe. Morgan, who learnt all his batting skills in Ireland and even represented the country in the World Cup, won the match for England. Similarly, Boyd Rankin, who quit Ireland to join England, was the opponent’s best bowler with four wickets.
Probably Ireland can take solace from the fact that they are producing cricketers good enough to represent a top international side.
--By A Cricket Analyst