Ireland await World Cup fate after falling to Scots defeat
Published 22/06/2015 | 02:30
Rain denied Scotland the chance of a third T20 international victory over Ireland in Bready yesterday - but a 2-0 series win for the visitors will have echoed from Co Tyrone across the water to Barbados where the ICC board are discussing the format of the next World Cup.
Warren Deutrom, the CEO of Cricket Ireland, is still hoping that common sense and fair play will prevail and the world's governing body will decide this week to revert to the successful 14-team format of its last two showpiece events for the 2019 tournament.
But if the ICC sticks with its plan for a 10-team World Cup - with only two spots open via a qualifying tournament in Bangladesh - then it is very unlikely that both Ireland and Scotland will be in the main event, as they were earlier this year.
The manner and ease of Scotland's six-wicket victories on Thursday and in Saturday's re-arranged game therefore carries more significance than simply Celtic bragging rights.
If the pendulum has swung again and the long period of Irish supremacy over their oldest rivals is coming to an end - as Scotland's decade of dominance did in 2004 - then it will make World Cup qualification even more of a lottery.
Former coach Phil Simmons lost only three games to Scotland during his eight-year reign - and no T20s - his successor John Bracewell may well have matched that inside a month if not for yesterday's persistent showers.
There is no reason to think that the form of Matt Cross, who followed up his top score of 60 in the opening game with another best of 48 from 30 balls, would not have made it a hat-trick of match-winning performances.
It wasn't that Ireland's total of 166-6 was hopelessly inadequate but of the bowlers only spinner George Dockrell with figures of 3-21 was able to apply pressure and if he didn't know before, Bracewell will now be in no doubt about the deficiencies in his seam attack.
There is hope that Boyd Rankin may be persuaded to return sooner rather than later, and the talented young Surrey pair of Matthew Dunn and Tom Curran are both qualified, but if there is a young fast bowler with Irish ancestry playing Grade cricket Down Under, now might be a very good time to pick up the phone.
Merrion all-rounder Tyrone Kane made a sensational start to his Ireland career with three wickets in his first over in international cricket, and he continued to impress Bracewell despite Scotland winning the series.
"Tyrone has jumped the queue in terms of options for the World T20s," Bracewell said.
"He has made a marker over these two matches, in all parts of his game. His fielding was outstanding, his bowling was brilliant because he bowled to a plan and got that skiddy length going, and I thought he batted really intelligently going into the death overs.
"Tyrone isn't a big hitter but he was really smart about where he hit the ball."
It was perhaps significant that Kane opened the bowling in the second completed game on Saturday and former fast bowling hope Craig Young was dropped for yesterday's abandoned final game.
Meanwhile, former Ireland captain Trent Johnston has been appointed interim coach of New South Wales, taking temporary charge from Trevor Bayliss, who has been appointed the new England head coach.