Simmons not fazed by low Irish run rate
A win is a win – especially against a Test-playing nation – but Ireland may yet live to regret not beating Zimbabwe far more convincingly in their opening World T20 group match in Bangladesh on Monday.
In the short term, the scrambled last-ball victory in Sylhet leaves both teams almost equal on net run rate – a determining factor if Ireland do not win their remaining Group B games against the UAE today and the Netherlands on Friday, and two or more teams finish level on points.
As for the bigger picture, those traditionalists who still wish to keep Ireland and the other non-Test playing counties in their place can mutter, 'Ah yes, but they only just won'.
Ed Joyce's post-match observation that Ireland should have got home with an over to spare was extremely conservative – with 36 needed from six overs and eight wickets in hand, Zimbabwe should not have reached the 19th over, never mind the last ball of the 20th.
Phil Simmons agreed that Ireland should have won "far more easily" but was pleased to see openers Paul Stirling and William Porterfield getting back to the form that was instrumental in Ireland winning the pre-qualifying tournament in the UAE in November.
"Getting off to a good start is so important in these T20 games," Simmons said. "The guys didn't play any big shots – just proper cricket shots – but we still went along at 10 an over in the first six overs and we have to continue in that vein.
"It's great to see everyone in the team knowing their role and what needs to happen when they come in to bat or bowl. Andy Poynter played an important innings in the middle there and Kevin O'Brien knew what he had to do."
What must be particularly pleasing for Simmons is how the team is evolving, with only Kevin O'Brien and Porterfield now surviving from the last great St Patrick's Day victory against Pakistan at the 2007 World Cup.
With youngsters Poynter, spinner Andy McBrine and all-rounder Stuart Thompson fitting in seamlessly, another of the ICC's fears – that Ireland's recent success was built on one "golden generation" – is set to be dispelled.
Sadly, though, it seems that whenever one obstacle is knocked down, another is quickly erected.
WORLD TWENTY20, HIGHLIGHTS, SKY SPORTS 2, 8.00pm