Sub-plots abound for Ireland's clash with England but weather could hold key
Ireland captain William Porterfield makes 200th appearance for his country
Ireland captain William Porterfield: “Everything we are doing is about winning.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho.
The sub-plots surrounding today’s Royal London One-Day International between Ireland and England at Malahide bubbled away furiously yesterday, just like the water draining away from the ground as the rain relented to allow both sides a full practice session in the middle.
England coach Peter Moores flew in from Barbados, via London, with news that Andrew Strauss, his long-time captain in his first reign as coach, is expected to be unveiled as the first England director of cricket in the coming days.
Moores, under pressure since England’s disastrous World Cup exit, saw that ramped up further by the Test team’s failure to win the series against a West Indies side boosted by the arrival of former Ireland coach Phil Simmons (who will be at the game today). A few strong cups of coffee may have staved off the jet lag, but the hangover of a disastrous few months may not be so easy to shake off.
Ireland have had their own changes to deal with since their own World Cup adventure fell away after such a brilliant start, but the arrival of new coach John Bracewell and his gradual introduction to the role has been low-key.
The former New Zealand and Gloucestershire coach is in Dublin in an observational role – indeed wryly observing that Moores’s position was one he didn’t envy at all – with Simmons’s long-time assistant Peter Johnston leading the Ireland coaching team.
For the players, though, the off field shenanigans are of little interest with Ireland skipper William Porterfield sure that an England squad featuring six uncapped players has plenty to be focused on.
The visitors will have to hand out at least five ODI debuts, the most since 1996, while there’s also a new captain in James Taylor, who leads the side for the first time in the absence of Eoin Morgan, who yesterday showed signs of getting back to some sort of form with 63 off 28 balls for Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League.
“We’re playing against England, the Shamrock against Three Lions, no matter what team goes out there on either side it’s going to be a fiercely competitive game,” said Porterfield, who makes his 200th appearance for his country.
“From our point of view we want to be winning games, it’s something we need to put right. We’ve been very competitive in a lot of the games we have played (against England). We were unfortunate not to beat them in Stormont and the game here the last time as well.
“If we had picked up another wicket here and there we could have closed that game out pretty comfortably, but Moggy and Ravi [Bopara, a team-mate of Morgan’s at Hyderabad] played very well. Everything we are doing is about winning, no matter what 11 England put out on the park.”
Porterfield’s brilliant 112 helped Ireland to make 269 for seven when the sides last met on an idyllic September day in 2013, and England were under the pump at 48 for four before unbeaten centuries from Morgan and Bopara got their side home with a full seven overs to spare.
It’s hard to see three centuries being scored after a wet week of May weather and the forecast is for plenty more rain arriving from the south and that is likely to see play severely curtailed from lunchtime onwards.
It will make the toss a key one, with a slow, green seaming wicket guaranteed to suit the side bowling first, while batting second will suit if Duckworth Lewis calculations come into play.
Taylor claimed an “exceptionally good” record with the call of heads or tail when leading Nottinghamshire in one-day cricket, but Porterfield will be hoping the cricketing gods will grant him a little favour on the day he becomes Ireland’s fourth double-centurion.
SQUADS – IRELAND: William Porterfield (Warwickshire, captain), Andrew Balbirnie (Middlesex), Alex Cusack (Clontarf), George Dockrell (Somerset), Ed Joyce (Sussex), Andrew McBrine (Donemana), John Mooney (Balbriggan), Kevin O’Brien (Railway Union), Niall O’Brien (Leicestershire), Paul Stirling (Middlesex), Stuart Thompson (Eglinton), Gary Wilson (Surrey), Craig Young (Bready).
ENGLAND: James Taylor (Nottinghamshire, capt), Zafar Ansari (Surrey), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Sam Billings (Kent), Tim Bresnan (Yorkshire), Steven Finn (Middlesex), Lewis Gregory (Somerset), Alex Hales (Nottinghamshire), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Jason Roy (Surrey), James Vince (Hampshire), David Willey (Northamptonshire), Mark Wood (Durham).
First ball: 10.45am.
On TV: Sky Sports 2 from 10.30am.
Tickets: Over 9,000 sold and heading towards a sell-out. Remaining tickets will be on sale from a Ticketmaster van on the entrance to the ground.
Weather: Not too smart at all and certainly there’ll be no repeat of September 2013 when the Caribbean came to Malahide for England’s last visit. Cloudy start with rain set to spread from the south, with possible thundery showers. Messrs Duckworth and Lewis set for an outing.
Ones to watch: Ireland ’s Craig Young did not see any action at World Cup despite fine form in the build-up when he took plenty of wickets. If selected it will be the bowler’s first ODI against a Test-playing nation.
England opener Alex Hales is the leading run-scorer in English county cricket this summer and the Nottinghamshire player could be in reckoning for a spot in the Test side following the retirement of Jonathan Trott. Has yet to transfer domestic form to international level, averaging just 21 in nine ODIs.
Betting: Ireland 2-1; England 4-11 (Paddy Power).
Online: Follow our Live Blog from Malahide on irishtimes.com/sport