I’m starting to come to the conclusion that even if England are no good, at least our games are providing plenty of entertainment value. Although I doubt very much that the two Andys see it that way.
What has happened to our much vaunted bowling unit that was almost unplayable at last years world T20? Four of the five bowlers who won us the T20 are currently playing in this side.
For England not to be able to defend 327 against an associate side is worrying, I know it’s a different format, but cricket is still cricket and the basics of delivering the ball in the right place are still the same, at the moment only Graeme Swann seems capable of consistently doing this.
I’m not going to go on a rant about how bad England were today though. Ireland simply played the better cricket and fully deserved their win. As an Englishman with Irish heritage (I’m no plastic paddy though), I am more than happy to see Ireland doing well.
When Ireland got to the situation of needing about 70 runs from around 60 balls, I actually thought they deserved, and wanted them to win. I thought at this stage that they should win, but I doubted whether they would have the composure to see the job through.
That is when I (and probably most followers of cricket) expected the wheels to come off for Ireland. But remarkably they didn’t.
When Kevin O’Brien walked out to bat, it looked like he was just throwing caution to the wind and enjoying himself. There then came a situation in the match when it became apparent that Ireland could actually win it.
It was then remarkable to see O’Brien rein himself in and start to play a more responsible game. Alex Cusack’s role cannot be underestimated either. He played a very mature innings rotating the strike to ensure O’Brien could keep his onslaught up.
When O’Brien managed to run himself out, I still felt Ireland could do it when I heard that Trent Johnson was the man on his way out to bat. Johnson is an experienced hand and has played vital innings before for the Irish, I’m sure he was the man who got them over the line against Pakistan 4 years ago.
The most remarkable thing about Ireland’s victory for me, is the manner in which it was achieved. Whenever an associate nation beats a test nation, it’s always in a scrappy low scoring match.
Today was different, Ireland were out of the match at the half way point, there was no way back for them, they had no right to win from where they did. What they achieved is more than most test playing nations ever have.
I’m forever hearing about how much money the ICC are pouring into cricket in Bangladesh. I’m not sure if they make any major efforts with Ireland, if not, then it’s about time they started.
At the end of the match there was remarkable scenes in the Test Match Special commentary box, where Irish commentator Alan Lewis could be heard crying with joy. It emerged during the day that Lewis is a bit of a character with an interesting history.
Apart from captaining Ireland on 35 occasions, he is a fully qualified Rugby Union referee who refereed at both the 2003 and 2007 world cups and only last Saturday he was running the line at Twickenham for the England V France, 6 Nations International. Not a bad week for him all in all.
As for England, well who knows how we will play in our next game. Here’s hoping for a drab boring match that we actually win. For Ireland, I hope they play with the same freedom they did today, they could well cause another upset if they do.