Monday 18 December 2017

Cricket: Irish fury at Wilson call

Gerard Hughes

THE DREAM of reaching the World Cup quarter-finals was fading fast last night as Ireland again let slip a strong position to lose to the West Indies by 44 runs in Mohali.

Centurion Devon Smith and the big-hitting Kieron Pollard helped the Test team to 275 all out, but while Ed Joyce and Gary Wilson were adding an impressively-paced 91 another upset was on the cards.

The fourth-wicket pair had reduced the Irish requirement to 99 from 70 balls when Joyce was yorked for 84, but Kevin O'Brien went cheaply and Wilson's best innings for Ireland was cruelly cut short on 61.

The Surrey batsman, who had slog-swept one enormous six and was scoring at a run a ball, was given out lbw, even though on review he was clearly struck outside the line of the stumps, which should have meant a reprieve.

Wilson was distraught that the decision was not overturned on appeal, but even after a second review he had to go, apparently because the umpire did not believe he was playing a shot.


Ireland's hopes went with him as an asking rate of more than nine an over was beyond the tail and it needed George Dockrell to smack a brisk 19 when all hope was gone to make the margin of defeat more representative of what had been a hard-fought game.

"The decision was crucial and cost us the game," said Ireland captain William Porterfield. "You've got to expect umpiring mistakes on the field, but when you've got a replay system it's supposed to eradicate errors and in my opinion that didn't happen with Gary."

"Even if the umpire thought he wasn't offering a shot at the time of the original decision, when he's seen the replay on the big screen and it's clear that he is, surely common sense should prevail."

Porterfield refused to blame that one incident for the defeat, citing a couple of lapses in the field, Pollard's innings and a bit of bad luck for Joyce who was bowled via his back foot after stroking nine boundaries.

"When we came off at half-time we thought that was a par score and very, very chaseable, but the pitch changed and got lower than we had expected it would and it was hard work," he said.

Porterfield's team believed before the game that they could win it -- despite the absence of the injured Trent Johnston -- and it will be scant comfort to know they controlled the first 35 overs of each innings.

Tight bowling -- particularly from Boyd Rankin -- allied to smart ground fielding kept the West Indies in check for long spells but Ireland were guilty of dropping two important catches.

Smith, who went on to make 107, fired a sharp chance to Paul Stirling on 10 and the usually impeccable Wilson spilled a running, diving catch when Pollard was on 19, and just getting into his stride.

Some stride it was too as he launched a Kevin O'Brien-like onslaught that brought 94 runs from only 55 balls before he lofted John Mooney to long on.

The damage had been done in the previous over, which cost O'Brien 20 runs.

The all-rounder's four wickets -- twice he took two in an over -- came at an expensive 71 runs and the post-match inquest will ask why star spinner Dockrell was only given three overs.

After England's two-wicket defeat by Bangladesh in Chittagong last night, there is still a way into the quarter-finals for Ireland, but it involves winning their remaining two Group B matches against South Africa and the Netherlands, and other results going their way too.

Irish Independent

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