Making all the right impressions in Malahide despite the result

Frustration that England’s standout players were former heroes in a green shirt

A view of the Malahide ground during Tuesday’s RSA One-Day Challenge  between Ireland and England. Photograph: Rowland White/Inpho/Presseye

A view of the Malahide ground during Tuesday’s RSA One-Day Challenge between Ireland and England. Photograph: Rowland White/Inpho/Presseye

Fri, Sep 6, 2013, 11:43

Long after the end of last Tuesday’s RSA Challenge One-Day International was over the crowds still packed the pubs and restaurants of Malahide, spilling out on to the streets, still coming to terms to what they had just witnessed.

Many talked of the mixed emotions of the day, firstly – the delight that it had all come together so well and that close on 10,000 people soaked up some glorious early autumn sunshine while watching top quality international cricket.

There was also frustration in the defeat, especially so as two of the standout performers in the England side were former heroes in a green shirt. Eoin Morgan showed yet again that his mixture of ice-cold nerve and red-hot shotmaking is a heady mix as he blasted Ireland’s under-par bowling attack all around his former club ground, while Boyd Rankin proved far and away England’s most dangerous bowler on his ODI debut with four wickets.

Much of the narrative in the build-up to the encounter was on England’s creaming of the top talent this country has to offer, with Morgan not exactly helping it by bringing the name of Ireland opener Paul Stirling into the mix during his press conference before the game.

The ECB’s policy of bringing in players born outside of England is nothing new, although in most other cases they are dealing with players from established Test-playing nations where the depth of playing talent is much deeper than in Ireland.

Cricket Ireland have played a diplomatic hand when it has come to the issue, making their displeasure known to their English counterparts, while also striving to put in place the kind of structures in this country that will prevent it happening in the future.

They are helped by the fact that the ECB know that a team made up of players brought up outside of England is both a damning indictment of their coaching structures and one that won’t wash with English supporters, many of whom are already uncomfortable with the idea.

In as much as the biennial match-up against England is a boost to the game here in terms of revenue through sell-out crowds, Cricket Ireland have cut the apron strings of financial dependence with our neighbours over the years.

The growth and development of sponsorships, an aggressive approach to targeting available funding from the ICC and the fostering of national and local government partnerships have seen Cricket Ireland grow their revenues almost ten-fold since the 2007 World Cup.

Showing off
Tuesday was about showing off in many respects, standing on our own two feet and saying ‘ look what we can do when we put our minds to it’.

It certainly impressed the visiting ICC chief executive David Richardson. “Today was an illustration of what can be achieved through vision, hard work and old fashioned Irish optimism and spirit,” he remarked. Warren Deutrom and his small team at Cricket Ireland deserved the perfect day they got for what was a great day for Irish cricket. They deserve a place at the top table of ODI cricket.”

Meanwhile, Ireland’s cricketers will have a chance to get over their disappointment of the defeat to England straight away as they face in to the first of two World Cup qualifiers against Scotland at Stormont this morning (10.45am).

Phil Simmons’s side clinched their place in the finals in the Netherlands back in July, but Scotland need to win both games and hope that Afghanistan lose one of their two games against Kenya in Sharjah at the beginning of October to take the second automatic spot.

If Ireland’s squad were feeling a little low after letting a winning position slip through their hands on Tuesday, Scotland will need to drag themselves up off the floor after they conceded 362 runs for just three wickets in their 200-run walloping by Australia.

Ireland have named the same squad for the two games, the second of which comes on Sunday at the Belfast venue, and look well set to finish the qualifying campaign with two victories.