Opening day of Ireland’s maiden Test match is a washout
Supporters will receive a full refund as no play possible against Pakistan at Malahide
Groundstaff struggle with the covers on the first morning of the Test match between Ireland and Pakistan at Malahide. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho
Ireland’s first Test match made history of the wrong kind at Malahide on Friday as it entered the history books as the first time an opening day of a country’s inaugural Test has been washed out.
Wind was the bigger problem in the morning, with groundstaff unable to take off the outfield covers for fear of being blown into the nearby estuary, forcing the umpires to call an early lunch. With winds gusting up to 50kph, a call was even made to Wellington in New Zealand, the world’s windiest Test venue, to check on wind speed safety measures.
Any chance of play ended when the rain intensified just after 2.0pm, when a particularly nasty hail shower hit the ground. Umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth made the call soon after their 3.0pm inspection, ironically just as the rain abated and the gloom lifted. Later, blue skies appeared and the sun came out. The damage was already done.
The knowledgeable Irish cricket crowd - 5,100 of the 6,300 seats had been sold for the first day - had already started to head off, wet and weary, to the train station or the warmth of the Malahide hostelries.
“It’s obviously bitterly disappointing for everyone but the good thing is that there is another four days, so there’s plenty of opportunity to get a match in,” said Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom, who also admitted that despite the organisation having insurance, it was only partial, due to the vagaries of May weather in Ireland. Having already burned more than a million euro on staging this Test match, it’s something they could have done without.
The supporters will all be refunded in full as the Cricket Ireland regulations only allowed for a refund if there was no play at all - a policy which may be reviewed in future according to Deutrom - but the money will be scant consolation for the disappointment of missing out on a piece of Irish sporting history.
Cricket Ireland expect a sell-out on Saturday, with just a few hundred tickets left on Friday night, while about half of the tickets are sold for Sunday. The good news from Met Eireann is that the morning forecast is for sun on Saturday, with no significant rain forecast.
Saturday’s play will start at 11.0am, with lunch taken at 1.0pm. The afternoon session will run from 1.40pm until 3.55pm before the evening session gets underway at 4.15pm, with stumps at 6.30pm.
Despite no chance of play starting on time at 11.0am on Friday, the large crowds stil travelled early to make sure they would witness the first Test delivery in Ireland. The packed Darts emptied with excited cricket supporters who were making light of the conditions. The Enterprise from Belfast even stopped at the station, leading to a logjam along the Dublin Road well before play started.
Only the hardy, or foolhardy, took their seats in the temporary stands, most deciding to pack into one the two beer tents. Outside of the groundstaff, the hardest workers at Malahide were the ballad duo keeping the eager crowd entertained, although their rendition of Black is the Colour had more to do with the clouds scurrying across the ground than any true love’s hair.
The umpires continued their inspections - including former England spinner Illingworth battling to put up an umbrella and a groundsman catching his hat as a swift gust dislodged in from his head. Sadly it was the only catch of note on the first day.
After waiting all this time to take their bow at Test cricket, Ireland’s cricketers, and the supporters, will have to wait another day. Test cricket is all about patience after all.