Rain has the last say at Stormont

 

Cricket:The RSA Challenge one-day international between Ireland and Australia was washed out at Stormont, with just 10.4 overs possible in a rainy Belfast.

Play was delayed for 45 minutes at the start of the day but although the players did manage to start the match between showers the poor weather returned and halted the contest with the hosts on 36 for three.

Captain William Porterfield and Ed Joyce both made ducks but nearly 6,000 fans had much the worst of the day, with no refunds on tickets after the game just reached the minimum of 10 overs.

Australia made four changes from their warm-up match against Leicestershire, with seam trio Brett Lee, Pat Cummins and Ben Hilfenhaus in for Mitchell Johnson, Clint McKay and James Pattinson and Peter Forrest replacing George Bailey.

Ireland, meanwhile, handed a debut to Tim Murtagh, although he never reached the field of play.

Veteran paceman Lee struck twice in the first over of the match and the lively Cummins dismissed Paul Stirling for an entertaining 24 before a deluge forced the players off.

Australia got off to the best possible start, Lee swinging the first ball of the match on a full length and bowling Ireland skipper Porterfield.

Joyce was next in and survived a strong lbw shout from the very next ball, with the umpire ruling the ball would have slid down leg side. That reprieve was no use though, Lee producing another high class delivery as he seamed one away and clipped Joyce’s off stump to make it nought for two after just three balls.

Ireland were off the mark with a Hilfenhaus wide, much to the home crowd’s relief. Niall O’Brien nudged a single for the first run off the bat and Stirling soon got the scoreboard moving with a flashy cut for four, just clearing David Warner at backward point, followed by consecutive boundaries off Hilfenhaus.

Cummins generated some good pace after replacing Hilfenhaus, but Stirling was looking impressive and added another boundary with a powerful square drive.

Cummins exacted revenge in the 10th over, Michael Clarke snaring a superb one-handed catch to send Stirling back for 24.

Just six more balls were possible before the rain returned, this time for good.

A final inspection took place at 3.50pm, with Clarke and Porterfield shaking hands to end a disappointing day.

After play was called off, Cricket Ireland announced that they will offer supporters free entry to one of Ireland’s matches against Afghanistan and Bangladesh in the coming month.

Ireland take on the Afghans in two World Cup qualifiers in Clontarf on July 3rd and 5th before taking on Bangladesh in three Twenty 20 internationals at Stormont on July 18th, 20th and 21st.

Proof of purchase will be required with further details at www.cricketireland.ie.

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