Balbirnie Journey

Nothing endears a player to me more than ineptitude and so Irish batsman Andy Balbirnie’s pair on Test debut made him an instant favourite.

With Test outings for the Shamrock side few and far between, I’m desperately hoping that cricket’s not most famous AB gets another chance to shine. In the meantime he needs to dominate domestic and international white-ball cricket. Today, he did just that…

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.newsletter.co.uk/sport/cricket/andrew-balbirnie-shines-as-ireland-beat-afghanistan-1-8835562/amp

Fingers crossed that the Dublin Dabber gets to at least double his Test cap tally and turn his batting average into an integer… oh, it could be against England, against Jimmy and co. on a seaming green Lords deck!

Disclaimer: It escaped my mind that before they take on England, Ireland play another Test in Afghanistan. It won’t be easy but it will be an opportunity for Balbirnie to get up and running.

Cricket Captain 2018: Shamrocked!

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As Coach and Selector of the England cricket team, I accept full responsibility for the seismic Test defeat against Ireland in Dublin, a result that sent shockwaves throughout the global cricket community and beyond. First of all, please let me offer my sincerest congratulations to our Irish counterparts. They fully deserved their maiden Test match victory which brought to an end both an undefeated record and a run of four consecutive Test series wins during my tenure.

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The decision to rest a number of senior players for this one-off Test match was made with a view to the upcoming demanding schedule that we face this summer. There are six limited overs internationals to be played against Pakistan, a lengthy World Cup as well as both white-ball matches and the marquee Ashes series against Australia. By selecting the squad that I did, I helped us to breed competition and identify players good enough to contribute to our cause in the future. Ultimately however, the efforts, or at least the application of our players, was extremely underwhelming. This was despite a sensational innings of 125 from twentytwo-year-old Joe Clarke in his first Test as captain. Other players, notably Ollie Pope as well as Ben Coad on debut, enhanced their reputations but some failed to seize the opportunity presented to them.

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Our first choice spinner, Lancashire’s Matthew Parkinson (4-64), also performed well to restrict Ireland to 259 in their second innings. However to lose by a margin of 70 runs, having opted to bowl first and having been 86 without loss in response to Ireland’s first innings total of 297, was unacceptable. I’d like to add that the decision to bowl first was not made by stand-in skipper Joe Clarke alone but by the full leadership team. Having dismissed our hosts for sub 300 in cloudy conditions, the decision to field first was not the reason for our defeat.

County Championship (First Class) performances will now be crucial in regards to selection for Ashes places following a busy white-ball period.

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On the subject of white-ball cricket, I was delighted with how our players responded to the Test defeat. Players such as Sam Hain and Ed Barnard amongst others played in both fixtures and were crucial to our first ODI series victory in four, thus maintaining our number one world ranking. Other players that came into the side, such as limited overs specialists Alex Hales and Jason Roy as well as the ever effective Chris Wood, helped lift the side from the Dublin depths of despair. Ben Stokes, who claimed figures of 3-45, was named Man of the Match.

We now take on Pakistan in a five-match ODI series as well as a one-off T20I encounter prior to the 2019 ODI World Cup. Thank you for your support and once again, congratulations to Irish cricket!

Six to Watch: T20I Status – Women’s Special

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Following on from my men’s and team articles and ahead of the Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier commencing next week, here’s a look at some women players to lookout for now that all associate cricket nations have been granted T20I status as of today.

Louise Little (Ireland)

Fifteen-year-old Irish girl Louise Little’s ODI bowling average currently stands at a whopping 358.00. This is a result of her mauling at the hands of a rampant and record-breaking New Zealand side earlier this year.

Little was actually five days shy of being fourteen when she made her international bow last year. It is to be hoped that the Dublin born medium-pacer will be better for the experience and soon come of age on the international stage. They’ll be no immediate opportunity for Little to prosper having been omitted form Ireland’s squad for the 2018 Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier. This may be the best thing for her and time is very much on her side. Hopefully the Dublin native can improve little by little!

Mariko Hill (Hong Kong)

Hong Kong’s Mariko Hill was just seventeen when she won the Hong Kong Women Cricketer of the Year trophy way back in 2013. The right arm-medium bowler was effective with the cork and leather at the ASEAN Women’s T20 Open Tournament in Bangkok earlier this year and Hong Kong will be seeking further fine contributions from Hill. Given her tender years, she’s far from over the hill!

Pauke Siaka (Papua New Guinea)

Siaka will captain PNG when the Women’s World T20 Qualifier commences in the Netherlands next weekend. Siaka previously led her nation at the 2017 ODI Cricket World Cup Qualifier where she claimed a team high eight wickets. PNG will be looking to their skipper for inspiration as well as contributions with both bat and ball.

Naruemol Chaiwai (Thailand)

Naruemol Chaiwai will turn 27 tomorrow and she’ll surely intend to celebrate her birthday with some stellar performances in the Women’s World T20 Qualifier having been named in Thailand’s squad last month. Chaiwai was Thailand’s leading run scorer at the 2018 Women’s Twenty20 Asia Cup and will hope to transform that form the full T20 Internationals.

Rubina Chhetry (Nepal)

As seems to be standard on this list, Nepal’s Rubina Chhetry is a right-hand-bat and right-arm-medium bowler. Only twnetyfour-years of age, Chhetry made some handy contributions with the ball including figures of 3-11 and 3-12 at the Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifying Series Asia Region last year. Nepal will look to Chettry to continue claiming wickets to help them progress as their male counterparts have done in recent times.

Cher van Slobbe (Netherlands)

Hermes DVS Women all-rounder Van Slobbe has made some handy contributions with the bat for the Dutch against the likes of Dorset and Cornwall in the Women’s One-Day Cup and will shortly win her maiden full international caps. She’ll also expect to contribute with the ball as 2018 Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier hosts Netherlands look to make full use of home advantage. Van Slobbe and her Dutch teammates Believe they’re Strong Enough to compete in a Woman’s World. They’ll hope that the opposition will be Moonstruck so as to Mask any mistakes from the home side and hopefully the home spectators will witness The Very Best of Cher!

Not all of the above will be at…

http://www.wikiwand.com/en/2018_ICC_Women%27s_World_Twenty20_Qualifier

… but there’ll be a follow-up article sometime in the future to see how messrs Chaiwai, Chhetry, Hill. Little, Siaka and van Slobbe have fared.

Disclaimer: Apologies to Cher and her fans but I just couldn’t resist putting DMA’s version on here instead!

InKerredible!

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New Zealand’s teenage prodigy Amelia Kerr has today smashed the record for the highest individual score in Women’s ODI cricket. She also took a five-wicket haul just for good measure too.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/18508/game/1145893/ireland-women-vs-new-zealand-women-3rd-odi-new-zealand-women-tour-of-ireland-and-england-2018/

Once again the experienced tourists have anhialated their Irish hosts, a side that has amongst it a number of teenagers, including a fifteen-year-old opening bowler who now averages 341.00 with the ball in ODI Cricket. This leads to some serious questions regarding the validity of the records, the futures of Ireland’s teenage bowlers and how they handle such drubbings as well as how much New Zealand actually gain from these matches.

Are such encounters like those in Dublin today, really good preparation for playing stronger opposition?

A counter argument of course, particularly in today’s match will be that Kerr herself is only seventeen-years-old. New Zealand shuffled their batting order in a way that some might describe as disrespectful. New Zealand clearly saw it as an opportunity to present responsibility to players and provide potentially confidence boosting chances to members of their squad. It’s understandable that New Zealand felt the regular top order had little more to gain and that this was a good opportunity to challenge lower order batsmen who hold ambitions of batting higher up the order on a regular basis. They’d earned the right to do this.

Fingers crossed that the likes of Louisa Little, Lara Maritz and Cara Murray can learn from their brutal initiation to international cricket and blossom in the seasons to come.

From One Extreme to Irish Cream!

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Whatever happens on the final day in Ireland’s inaugural Test match against Pakistan in Dublin, whether they go onto a famous victory or brave defeat, Kevin O’Brien, who is already written into Irish cricket folklore for his limited overs efforts, will go down in history as Ireland’s first ever Test centurion.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/18025/scorecard/1127284/ireland-vs-pakistan-only-test-pakistan-tour-of-ireland-2018

For Andy Balbirnie however, there will be no such euphoria. Even if Ireland were to win at Malahide, Balbirnie’s joy at his team’s success will be tempered by the fact that he failed to register a run. He scored a dreaded pair on Test debut and though he took a catch, is unlikely to bowl. Balbirnie has a couple of ODI tons to his name, a reasonable First Class average and time, he is twentyseven-years-old but there are no guarantees that there will be further opportunities for the Dublin lad. Ireland aren’t exactly planning on playing a multitude of Test matches in the immediate future but we should know their fixtures in the next few days. I sincerely hope that Balbirnie gets another chance and can display his qualities.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/303423.html

At the halfway stage of Ireland’s first Test, like Balbirnie, the ridiculously inexperienced Tyrone Kane had neither a run or a wicket.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/571707.html

He’s currently hanging on and is, at the time of writing, an epic and selfless 8 not out from 67 deliveries. In contributing with the bat he’s increasing his chances of taking a maiden Test wicket. Even if he were to be dismissed first thing tomorrow morning and fail to take a wicket, he would at least have eight runs beside his name in the record books and at just twenty-three, time to come again.

Meanwhile, when Ireland were slipping to 7-4 on their Test bow, neglected wicketkeeper Stuart Poynter was racking up 170, a maiden County Championship century for Durham against Derbyshire. Poynter’s stats don’t exactly cry out “Test call-up” but if their status played even a small part in motivating Poynter then that can only be good for Irish cricket.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ireland/content/player/308294.html

It remains to be seen but the Irish can dream!

Ireland Debut as Morgan Returns!

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There’s a certain irony or at least a coincidence that Ireland’s cricketers should play their inaugural Test match on the same day that former player Eoin Morgan should return to First Class cricket after a near three-year absence. Okay, we’ll ignore the fact that the first day got washed out!

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8204/game/1127690/middlesex-vs-gloucestershire–county-championship-division-two-2018/

It’s not been a bad return for Morgan either, making 76 against Gloucestershire in the County Championship before falling late on the first day to former Middlesex colleague Ryan Higgins. Remember that Morgan of course does have a Test hundred to his name and there are some people who think that he was ahead of his time, that he could have been a successful Test cricketer. Maybe he still could! Morgan has been an excellent captain for England in ODI and T20I cricket and has been a good player. He seems to suffer from lengthy lean spells with the bat but if the team are winning (England are currently ranked number one in ODIs) then Morgan’s returns with the bat are irrelevant.

Will any part of Eoin Morgan wish that he was turning out for Ireland today? To be honest, there’s probably a little part of everybody that wishes they were being presented with a Test cap this morning. Many thought that Tim Murtagh would play Test cricket for England. It’s been a long road but he’s a Test cricketer now.

It’ll be a proud and emotional moment for Ireland’s debutants but for every Andy Ganteaume or Rodney Redmond there’ll likely be a Bryce McGain or Mike Smith. Hopefully Ireland’s batsmen can avoid the dreaded debut duck or wicketless outing. Who knows when their next Test will be and one sub par performance may be the beginning and the end of a player’s Test career. They’ll forever be Test cricketers though, having made their Test births when some feel that the format is facing certain death.

Keep track of the score in Ireland’s first Test at home to Pakistan in Dublin at Cricinfo…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/18025/game/1127284/ireland-vs-pakistan-only-test-pak-in-ire-eng-scot-2018/

Meanwhile, Guerrilla Cricket, a controversial outfit in the opinion of many, provide the radio commentary…

https://www.guerillacricket.com

Eire Exposure

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Ireland will take on England in two ODIs next year in what is not only a great move for Irish Cricket but hopefully for associate nations in general. Ireland, recently granted First Class, List A and T20 status at domestic level are seeking further exposure against Test playing opposition and as well as two matches against the Three Lions will also host a Tri-Series involving Bangladesh and New Zealand shortly after. Ireland have taken advantage of Bangladesh and New Zealand’s need to adapt to northern hemisphere conditions ahead of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy.

The ODIs with England will take place at Bristol and Lords. This will save Ireland set-up costs but one match in Dublin followed by one at Lords could have been an innovative approach. If Ireland do gain Test status in the near future a bi-nation series with their neighbours, playing their first ever Test match in Dublin followed up by a match at Lords could be very special. It’s the sort of move that other nations could taken advantage of, for example Australia and Papua New Guinea playing series across both Northern Australia and PNG or India taking on Nepal across both nations. This development of both neighbourly support and rivalry could really help the game develop away from the well trodden path.

Ireland will wrap up the summer by hosting an ODI against West Indies in September.

Ireland Cricket’s Summer 2017 fixtures:

ODI Tour of England

England v Ireland, County Ground, Bristol, May 5th

England v Ireland, Lords, London, May 7th

ODI Tri-Series

Ireland v Bangladesh, Venue TBC, May 12th

Ireland v New Zealand, Venue TBC, May 14th

Ireland v Bangladesh, Venue TBC, May 19th

Ireland v New Zealand, Venue TBC, May 21st

ODI v West Indies

Ireland v West Indies, Venue TBC, Sept 13th

As mentioned, having been granted First Class status at domestic level and seeing a significant increase in ODI activity against Test level opposition, Ireland really do seem to be being groomed for a promotion to Test status.