Windwards Stifled by Ireland

8th February 2014

When the Sawdust Settles – match reviews

Nagico Super50 Tournament – 9th Match

Zone A: Ireland v Windward Islands, Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain, Trinidad

Ireland 179 beat Windward Islands 115 by 64 runs

Ireland finally made an impression upon this tournament – after most viewers had prematurely given up on them at half-time in this match, and had written off their debit column for this competition as played three, lost three. As it turned out, it was the defending champions who departed T&T with nothing to show but a red face and balance sheet.

Ireland were professional, and ground it out. A total of 179 was well below the 250 mark we’d come to expect here previously at Port of Spain, and was also below the more realistic target of the Irish to amass 200.

The innings was slow, boundaries being a rare commodity throughout on a distressingly sluggish pitch, which we hope is not a portent of future low-scoring games to come. The Nagico Super50 will need runs and big hitting in its final stages to leave a positive impression – not attritional cricket. Only eight 4s and two 6s were struck in the Ireland innings, and the slow-going led TV commentator, Jeffrey Dujon to liken the spectacle to watching paint dry.

In fact, reaching the giddy heights of 179 was something of a triumph, when half the side was back in the pavilion after 31 overs with less than a hundred on the board. The last two to go at that stage, Poynter (14), and Niall O’Brien (44), both guilty of cricket of the headless chicken variety: giving it the charge and being stumped comfortably yards from both the crease, and the ball.

Stuart Thompson provided the late impetus, his 32 from 42 balls getting the total past 150, and the last 3 wickets managed to eke out another 25. It didn’t really look enough, and Ireland’s batting had not appeared that of the winning side, but it turned out to be a total well out of the Windward’s reach.

Thompson made the early breakthrough, removing the dangerous Johnson Charles for 1. But it was first change, slow left-armer, George Dockrell who made the significant contribution.

We’ve seen a few spinners thus far in the competition choke the opposition with a nice combination of flight, turn, and lack of pace: Tamar Lambert, Veerasammy Permaul, Sulieman Benn and Sunil Narine; and tonight it was Dockrell’s turn to get it just right. His 7-1-14-3 was the key to the Windward Islands progressing from 34-1 in the 8th over, to 115 all out. Sorensen, McBrine, Stirling and Poynter provided stultifying support, and after Theophile went for 27, no one else made 20, or seemed capable of getting the ball off the square.

Ireland’s cricket hadn’t really changed from their approach in their previous two games – it was the execution that was markedly improved: the bowlers in general were slow and dibbly-dobbly – but whereas the stuff they served up against Guyana and Jamaica were mixed pies of full-tosses and long hops, here they were absolutely on the spot, and batsmen had no margin of error of which to take advantage, or the biscuit.

Batting-wise Ireland didn’t alter either. They doggedly entrenched, and aimed to bat the full fifty overs, at about 4 runs per over, to post 200. They failed to achieve that target, or bat all their overs, in any of their 3 games – even the one they won.

If they play this way in Jamaica in the 2 T20s & 1 ODI v West Indies later in the month, and the pitches are of a nature to conspire to allow them to prosper, then it’s going to be a dreadful series to watch.

To read ESPN Cricinfo’s match report, click here.

And to watch brief highlights of the game, click here.

David Oram

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