Irish aim to send Bracewell off with West Indies scalp
John Bracewell will oversee his final Ireland one-day international on home soil today knowing that only a win over the West Indies in Belfast can provide any sort of legacy from a largely disappointing two years as head coach.
The affable 59-year-old New Zealander, who hands over to Graham Ford at the end of the year, has admittedly been in charge of a team in decline but it is an indictment that he has been unable to bring through any of the youngsters he inherited from predecessor Phil Simmons.
Indeed, of the XI that will take on the West Indies in the grounds of Stormont Castle, the first seven are likely to be the same as those who lined up in Simmons' last game against Pakistan at the 2015 World Cup, and spinner George Dockrell was also in that team.
Tim Murtagh and Boyd Rankin would likely have played in Adelaide, too, had they been available, which leaves only the inconsistent Peter Chase as a newcomer, and the Malahide paceman owes his chance to the international retirement of John Mooney.
"We want to send the coach off with a win because he's put a lot in to Irish cricket," said captain William Porterfield. "We've let ourselves down on a couple of occasions this summer but there is a great opportunity to go out to and perform against the West Indies."
The one charm Bracewell may have in his favour is the return from injury of wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien whose bat has twice seen Ireland to victory over the West Indies - two years ago in New Zealand and also when the sides met at the same Belfast ground back in 2004.
Gloomy, cold and damp conditions will be in Ireland's favour too and the visitors' enthusiasm for the fixture was not in evidence yesterday when their sole representative at the ground, Aussie coach Stuart Law, announced there would be no training or press conference.
Assuming the weather doesn't spoil things, Ed Joyce feels Stormont is a venue that will suit Ireland against opposition who are gearing up for a five-match series against England.
"We are second favourites in this game but Stormont is our favourite ground, it has a good wicket and it probably suits us better than Malahide," he said.
IRELAND (v West Indies from): Porterfield (Warwickshire), John Anderson (Merrion), Balbirnie (Pembroke), Chase (Malahide), Dockrell (Leinster), Joyce (Merrion), Mulder (CIYMS), Murtagh (Middlesex), K O'Brien (Railway Union), N O'Brien (North-West Warriors), Rankin (Warwickshire), Singh (YMCA), Stirling (Middlesex), Wilson (Derbyshire).