Saturday 1 October 2016

Weather gods rain on Ireland’s parade

Published 09/05/2015 | 02:30

Ireland players look on as the rain falls in Malahide during yesterday’s aborted One-Day International
Ireland players look on as the rain falls in Malahide during yesterday’s aborted One-Day International

A kind assessment from punters might have it that England avoided another embarrassing international defeat to Ireland after rain intervened to save their blushes.

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Sadly, this might have been the drink talking, which was more than a possibility considering the heavens opened at 12.04, scooting many of the 8,000 or so patrons from the hostility of the pouring rain to the hospitality of the pouring beer.

At that stage, after 18 overs, with Ireland making heavy weather of things even before the heavy weather arrived, the home side were marooned at 56-4. In truth, they were waving but not drowning.

John Bracewell, their new coach who hails from a land where long, white clouds regularly unfurl themselves of the wet stuff, wouldn’t have known whether to be as disappointed with the weather vanes or his side’s vain attempts to play the conditions.

Perhaps, like the dismissive crank who once scoffed that if there is cricket in heaven, let there also be rain, Ireland may have saved themselves a bit of a minor embarrassment.

For Ireland, this washout put a dampener on things in more ways than one. Cricket Ireland, under their resourceful chief executive Warren Deutrom, have helmed a successful ship which has overcome many obstacles at home.

It is to the game’s discredit that Irish cricket is now faced with another series of hurdles from the global curators who remain seemingly steadfast in their opposition to allowing Ireland compete consistently at this rarefied level.

Ireland have become too good for the minnows of the game but, it seems, not good enough to take their place amongst the supposedly great and the good of the game.

Deutrom’s vision, glimpsed so wonderfully in World Cups for nigh on a decade now, has previously been based upon a strictly limited scale and budget, so few would bet against him fulfilling his dreams, even though the ICC want to evict them from their World Cup programme.

Indeed, even though the sun did not shine, the wonderful vista in Malahide yesterday wherein every one of its 10,000 ticket-holders were accommodated in temporary seating, reflected that drive.

Fleeing

In an ideal world, Cricket Ireland would hope to have a stadium of their own so, instead of fleeing to local hostelries, their customers would have spent whatever money they had left yesterday for the benefit of his sport.

Spending €38 a pop for 80 minutes of action may not have seemed like good value but not even the most vigorous CEO can plan to placate the weather gods.

The match started but, sadly, Ireland, fielding nine of the side that thwarted England at the 2011 World Cup, didn’t.

When William Porterfield called a run for which opening partner Paul Stirling seemed less than eager and was duly run out, Ireland were stuttering at 6-1 after being put into bat.

Porterfield recovered to issue the day’s first boundary but was undone on his 200th international appearance by England debutant Mark Wood, playing on to leave his side at 23-2.

Niall O’Brien arrived at the crease to partner former England one-day centurion Ed Joyce, giving Ireland the hurry-up with a sublime smite for four before he was hurried up, swiping to first slip from Tim Bresnan’s delivery after making 10 from eight balls.

England’s captain during the ill-fated World Cup campaign, Dubliner Eoin Morgan, was absent, preferring to hoover up runs – and cash – in the lucrative Indian Premier League.

Surveying this dank scene beneath mackerel skies, few could blame him.

Andrew Balbirnie, another rising star of the Irish game plying his trade in England, came and went as Ireland struggled for oxygen in this game.

In many ways, it rather sums up their uncertain status in the world game. They deserve much more. This particular battle though, looked like it was going to be lost before the rains came.

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