National coach Phil Simmons blamed complacency for Ireland’s batting collapse in the second innings of their Intercontinental Cup game with Afghanistan on Sunday.
The failure led to Ireland’s first defeat in four-day cricket and only their second in the first class competition which Ireland have dominated since 2005. It leaves the squad relying on other results if they are to have any chance of making their fourth successive final in November and they must also take maximum points from their last three games.
“We didn’t show enough fight on the last day,” said Simmons. “The batsmen took it for granted it was going to be a draw. The batting lacked determination to bat through the day, it was a case of complacency on the last morning (when Ireland lost seven wickets for 58).
“The batsmen must put their hands up and say to the bowlers we let you down.”
The one mitigating factor for the players was that, apart from John Mooney who enjoyed a satisfactory game with the bat after an autumn in Australia, it was their first game in four months but Simmons says the bowlers should have been more affected than the batsmen — and it was the second innings rather than the first when the batsmen disappointed.
“In the first innings the bowlers
were lacking outdoor practice (Afghanistan scored 474) but you can’t say that about the batters in the second innings. Most of them had a start on the first day. It wasn’t anything to do with lacking practice, it was just complacency and laziness (to be bowled out for 202).
“For the bowlers, it is hard to perform on flat pitches straight away. The batsmen can wait for bad balls. Bowlers can’t give away bad balls. They (Afghanistan) have been here for nearly a month and were very severe on our bad balls. We have a few things to address but I know we can pull ourselves together.
“We don’t play again until Sunday (in T20 action), the guys have a lot of work to do but they usually work hard so there is no problem there,” added Simmons.
As for Ireland’s hopes of reaching the final, Simmons accepts it is out of their hands.
“We can’t do anything about the rain, that mucked us up in the first two games, and we just have to get 20 points in each of the remaining games and see where we stand.”
Does he expect Afghanistan to be in the final?
“If they continue to play on wickets like this they would be favourites to be top of the table, but they are playing good cricket,” he said.
“They bowled well, but we didn’t bowl well enough to say we tested their batsmen. The big difference was that their two spinners turned the ball more than ours. But everybody is improving at this level and we have to make sure we stay above everybody by the way we play.”
Meanwhile Scotland enjoyed a great first morning in their I-Cup match against Kenya in Nairobi yesterday. The home team were bowled out for 91 in just 49.1 overs. By the close, Scotland were 121 for three.
A Scotland victory would take them above Afghanistan.