John Bracewell's first day at the office as Ireland cricket coach in Malahide proved a record-breaking one as Ed Joyce broke both individual and national records as his unbeaten 229 put his side in complete control of their opening Intercontinental Cup clash against the United Arab Emirates.
Ireland ended the day on 420 for three after being put into bat by the visiting team. It proved the high point of the visitors’ day, although yet again they let themselves down with some rank awful fielding and catching, with Joyce the beneficiary of four drops.
The 36-year-old made the UAE pay dearly as he went on to beat both his highest personal score of 211 and the 209 not out that fellow left-hander Eoin Morgan made against the same opposition in Abu Dhabi eight years ago. Both milestones came when he sliced down to the third man boundary, the 26th of 29 fours he hit on the day. In attacking mode from the start of his innings, Joyce also hit three sixes.
It's not often a knock of 146 plays second fiddle, but that was certainly the case for Paul Stirling, who played the other key innings on the day, the pair putting on 231 for the second wicket, the fourth-highest in Irish international history.
Joyce was quick to place his innings in the context of the game, while also pointing out the maturity shown by Stirling, who has struggled to claim a place in the Middlesex County Championship side despite his exceptional form in Twenty20 and one-day cricket.
“I’m really pleased to get the runs, really pleased that the team is in the position it is in,” said Joyce. “Obviously there’s a bit of weather around, so you feel like there might be some time lost in the game so to get so far ahead of the game on the first day is the most important thing.
“Stirlo looks in great nick at the moment, he just looks far too good a player not to be playing Championship cricket somewhere in the order. That’s the first time I’ve seen him playing a proper, patient first-session innings opening the batting with the red ball and he looked like he has matured a lot.”
As for the possibility of a triple century, Joyce added: “It’s on the cards, I play positively so I’m probably going to give a chance or two more the way I’m playing.” Play begins at 10.53am today.