Ed Joyce targets triple century after smashing record
Ed Joyce has assumed his rightful place as the scorer of Ireland's highest individual innings after a record-breaking day in Malahide.
Recognised as Ireland's best batsman - and certainly the classiest - the Sussex captain finished the first day of the Intercontinental Cup match against UAE on 229 not out, and Ireland resume today on a formidable 420 for three, the possibility of defeat already virtually ruled out.
Joyce was grateful for no fewer than four dropped chances as the Emirates players failed to acclimatise to the blustery, cool conditions, but how he cashed in!
He became only the second Ireland player to score a double century for his country and when, on 209, he cut his 26th four to thirdman, he overtook Eoin Morgan's record score, also made against the UAE. With the same stroke Joyce also passed his previous best first-class score, 211 for Sussex, and at the close he admitted that he was targeting a triple century this morning.
"It's on the cards. I play positively and will probably give a chance or two more but that is important to allow the other guys to settle in, if I keep going along my merry way," he said.
"I'm really pleased to get the runs and pleased the position the team is in. I actually thought Moggy had scored 250 for Ireland so I didn't even realise I had broken the record but I'm chuffed to get it."
It's not often that an innings of 146 is overshadowed in a day's play but Joyce managed to do that to Paul Stirling. The former Cliftonville and Carrickfergus batsman was his usual entertaining self but, unlike his partner for 47 overs and 229 runs, Stirling did not give a chance.
He hit 17 fours and three sixes and reached three figures for the ninth time for Ireland; only William Porterfield has hit more.
The captain was out in the third over after lunch - the morning session cut short by 75 minutes after rain delayed the start - but was happy to watch Joyce and Stirling put Ireland into such a commanding position.
Joyce's previous best for Ireland was 155, in his previous innings against the UAE, in Sharjah two years ago. How many more runs would he have scored for Ireland but for his county commitments? Indeed, this was only his fourth I-Cup game and after passing Ivan Anderson's runs tally yesterday, to take him into eighth place in the list of runs scorers, he needs only 20 more today to reach 4,000.
The UAE used six bowlers but their only relative success was dismissing Niall O'Brien, the player with the highest average in the competition, for just 13.
There is likely to be much more pain today.