Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Bridge too far for Irish cricketers

Just when the days of Ireland settling for respectability seemed to behind them, along comes a game like this to shatter the illusion.

Ireland conceded their third highest total in the Friends Provident Trophy (or its previous 50 overs incarnations) and chasing 347, even with a 45 yards boundary at Trent Bridge, would have been beyond Ireland’s strongest team.

Still, a final total of 212 for nine left a sour taste in the mouth as the visiting batsmen were happy to bat out the overs. Notts, though, professional to the last, actually brought back their opening bowler, Luke Fletcher, and their most accurate, Mark Ealham for the last five overs, refusing to relax although the game was long won.

So it was to Andrew White’s great credit that he brought up his third 50 of the year in the last over, from 58 balls with four boundaries.

It was at least one more than anyone else, including Jeremy Bray who eased his way back into the big time with 41, from 78 balls, and only three fours.

It would be hard to say, after almost two years out of international cricket, that he was playing for himself, rather than the team but if there was no chance of reaching their target the top order batsmen had a licence to take their time.

Reinhardt Strydom, given another chance at the top of the order, failed to take it — caught behind for 11 off2021 balls — and Gary Wilson faced only 16 while scoring eight at No 4. Paul Stirling hit the only six of the innings but it proved to be his only scoring shot; he was deceived by a quicker ball from Ealham.

Kevin O’Brien, playing against the county he will be joining after Ireland’s FPT campaign, looked good for 23 before he came up the pitch to “unfit for England” Samit Patel and was stumped.

Andrew Poynter, first with Bray and then with White, again held his own without ever threatening to dominate and Kyle McCallan enjoyed himself at the end with the pressure off, before he was bowled by Fletcher, an England Under-19 international last year.

At the start of the day John Mooney was given the new ball in the absence of Phil Eaglestone who was left out of the starting XI but soon he, like all the other bowlers, was under the cosh in the face of a typical, brutal onslaught by Alistair Brown.

Brown is the only person in top level world cricket who has scored two double centuries in a 50-overs game and for 22 overs here he was on course for a third. Off just 57 balls he hit 89, with 14 fours and two sixes, treating good bowling with contempt and bad bowling with disdain.

Peter Connell’s first six overs, in two spells went for 47, Mooney’s four for 32 and Kevin O’Brien two for 23 before the spinners came on. West bowled four overs for 30 and McCallan, the pick of the bunch, five for 32.

The surprise sixth bowler was Reinhardt Styrdom and although he sent down only a handful of deliveries before Bray held Brown, off Connell, at deep mid-wicket, he bowled enough good length balls to surely not have to wait another 15 matches — since he bowled against New Zealand — for his next spell in a green shirt.

Unfortunately for YMCA‘s new all-rounder, he is in the Ireland team primarily as a batsman and only scoring runs will keep him there.

Nottinghamshire 346-9 (50 overs, A Hales 106, A Brown 89, W Jefferson 57 not out, A Voges 48; P Connell 4-71, J Mooney 2-45) Ireland 212-9 (A White 50, J Bray 41, A Poynter 29, K O'Brien 23, K McCallan 21; M Ealham 4-40, S Patel 3-30, Fletcher 2-40)

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