England’s Irish cricket imports prove the difference in Dublin
Eoin Morgan hit a superb century after Boyd Rankin took four wickets in Malahide
Ireland captain William Porterfield hits a six to make his century against Englandat Malahide. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
England captain Eoin Morgan on his wayto a total of 124. The Irishman and Ravi Bopara were intrumental in England’s win at Malahide. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
A century from a flame-haired left-hander from Rush following on from a four-wicket haul from a 6ft 8in former farmer from Bready in Co Tyrone helped England record a six-wicket victory over Ireland in yesterday’s RSA Challenge One-Day International at a sun drenched Malahide.
Welcome to the wonderfully wacky modern world of cricket - welcome to the sun-burned face of what was in the end a memorable day in the history of the game in this country regardless of the result.
It was bittersweet in the end for the home crowd, with the build-up to the game centring on England’s relationship to Ireland and their continued policy of plucking the best of Irish talent to bolster their multi-nation smorgasbord of players.
Morgan’s century when it came was greeted with a standing ovation from the crowd as the England skipper led a fantastic run chase after Ireland had earlier made a very respectable 269 for seven from their 50 overs after being put in to bat.
No, cricket fans respect class, and even if it was one of our own playing with Three Lions on his chest, the 26-year-old, who made his senior club debut on this ground 13 years ago, was the star man on a day that also saw his fellow captain and great buddy William Porterfield score a century.
Morgan’s knock showed off all his great skills of run-chase management that has marked his international career for both Ireland and England, helping turn the game around after their reply had got off to a horrid start.
That was chiefly down to a stunning opening spell of bowling from Tim Murtagh, who showed that he has a future with the new white ball in his hands, taking three wickets for 33 as he bowled his 10 overs straight through.
The Middlesex seamer then had a nailed-on lbw decision against Luke Wright turned down by Irish umpire Mark Hawthorne, but the batsman failed to add a run before he chopped a Murtagh delivery on to his stumps.
The crowd were now in full voice and Murtagh gave them further reason to cheer two balls later when Gary Ballance’s debut ended after two deliveries when he feathered the ball through to wicket-keeper Gary Wilson.
That brought Morgan to the wicket to a mixed response from the crowd - boos and booze mixed in with applause - with his side in a spot of bother on 35 for three.
James Taylor hit 25 before he became Murtagh’s third victim, clean bowled this time as England slipped to 48 for four in the 15th over.
Bopara joined Morgan in the middle with a job of work to do, but slowly they started to rebuild by moving the ball around well and running hard between the wickets.
They were helped by a pitch that was getting flatter and after Ireland’s opening bowlers were done, the rest had little to offer. In particular the spin duo of George Dockrell and Paul Stirling came in for some terrible stick, the pair conceding 109 from the 15 overs they sent down.
Morgan and Bopara were savage on anything short and started to open their shoulders as their confidence grew; their 100 partnership coming in 101 balls, but the second 100 runs coming in just 61 more.
In the end, all the home support in the crowd could do was admire one of Ireland’s greatest cricketer taking his former team-mates apart.
For Morgan it was just where he wanted to be, in the middle ahead of the five-match series against Australia.
“Today has been magnificent, some time in the middle and some runs under my belt and contributing to an English win which was fantastic,” he said on accepting his man of the match speech.
The crowd of course were treated to a third century on the day, with Porterfield showing form at international level which has deserted him with Warwickshire.
It was nowhere near as fluent as the other two, but vital in the context of Ireland’s innings after Rankin had removed Paul Stirling for 10 and key man Ed Joyce for one, after he unluckily stepped back on his wicket.
Off-spinner James Tredwell bowled beautifully to remove Niall O’Brien (26) and Gary Wilson (two) in his two for 35, although England’s fielding was atrocious at times, with the usual sure hands of Carberry failing him on the day.
Porterfield took full advantage with middle order partnerships of 40 with Kevin O’Brien (23) and 63 with John Mooney (27) keeping the scoring rate ticking over.
Porterfield finally went for 112, furthering his record Irish century mark to 10, before being bowled by fellow North West man Rankin, before Johnston and Max Sorensen hit 40 off 25 balls to get Ireland to 269 for seven, a score that looked a decent total at lunch.
Morgan, with Bopara riding side-saddle, had other thoughts when they got into their stride. They didn’t stop until the job was done.