Green shoots still emerging despite disappointing defeat to South Africa

Displays of Andy McBrine and Andy Balbirnie show Ireland’s future is bright

If you take a look at the scorecard from our defeat to South Africa you might say to yourself there’s not much you can take out of a 201-run defeat.

South Africa showed why they are a top-class team but I was really proud of the fight we showed with bat and ball. We were up against it for most of the game but we showed that grit and fight that all Irish teams are known for. That character will stand to us for future games.

It was great to see Andy McBrine pick up his first World Cup wickets by bagging the world number one and two batsmen, AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla, in the same over. Our other Andy, Balbirnie, also scored his maiden half-century in a World Cup. These are both guys who I came through the Irish youth system with, so to see them doing well is really pleasing and a sign that our future is bright when it comes to new talent.

There’s no hiding the fact we were disappointed with the loss. It was one of those days where everything seemed to go against us right from the start. We would have wanted to bat first on what was an absolute belter of a wicket, but unfortunately we lost the toss and they chose to bat.


Dropped catches

However, things didn’t go our way and a few dropped catches plus some top quality batting left them with a formidable total of 411.

We talked at the break about keeping wickets in hand so we could accelerate through the innings, but losing four early wickets to some good bowling, combined with loose shots, left us on the back foot. From there it was about trying to keep wickets for the back 10 overs but we kept losing batsmen at bad times to completely stunt the run chase.

We will need to move on from this and take what positives there were. We are still two wins from three and will fly to Hobart confident we can get that third win against Zimbabwe on Saturday. We beat them in Bangladesh in the World Twenty 20 last March and although this is a different format that will give us confidence. Games like this are tough to take but you can learn a lot from them and hopefully we do so.

Three weeks

We are now in the most intense part of the tournament with the final three Pool B games against Zimbabwe, India and Pakistan coming in eight days. The travel is manic from the Zimbabwe game on Tasmania, followed by a trip to the north island of New Zealand for a sold-out clash against world champions India in Hamilton on Tuesday and back to the beautiful Adelaide Oval for the final game against Pakistan on Sunday.

Considering our first three games were spread over three weeks, it’s certainly going to be a change of gears.

Canberra was definitely going down a gear or two from Brisbane. The Australian capital is a very quiet city with a few small pockets of restaurants and shops, so the guys did a lot more relaxing.

It's hasn't been all hard work either. On Sunday evening we were treated to a showpiece in table tennis as our manager Roy Torrens took on the ICC umpire Aleem Dar. Roy and Aleem are good friends and I remember them playing a game of table tennis back in 2011 in Dhaka which Roy won. Unfortunately this time Roy wasn't so lucky as Aleem took the spoils!

Last tour

Roy has been a fantastic manager and servant to Irish cricket for almost 50 years. He has a great way with people and is one of the best story tellers you’ll meet. This is his last tour as manager as he is stepping down and he will be sorely missed by all who have had the pleasure of his company, including myself. He has represented us very well, so the new man

Chris Siddell

will have big shoes to fill.

While we were in Canberra, Irish ambassador Noel White invited us to his residence once again (having been there in October). It's always great to meet Irish around the world and Noel made sure were warmly welcomed. It's fantastic to have such support wherever we go and we are always grateful for that.