Belfast Telegraph

Monday 15 September 2014

Cricket: It's just a stroll for Ireland at Clontarf

Everything went according to plan for Ireland on the first day of their Inter-Continental Cup clash with Bermuda at Clontarf.

Trent Johnston lost the toss but the Irish batsmen were much too good for the visiting bowlers and the only surprise was that Ireland did not score 400 in the day. In fact only 84 runs were scored in the last 30 overs but at 362 for three the holders are in a powerful position and still on course to complete another innings victory.

The Ireland 'go-slow' started after Andre Botha's dismissal but then it was bound to get slower after another awesomely impressive century from the North County all-rounder.

Botha will probably not bowl because of an injured heel but who needs his bowling when he can bat like this.

Even more encouraging for Ireland was the innings of William Porterfield who batted through the day to compile his highest Ireland innings and become the first batsman to score 1,000 runs for his country in a calendar year.

Yes, he has had more opportunities than most - this was his 28th innings - but, after getting out three times in the 80s and failing to get past 112 in his previous three hundreds, this was the knock which all his team-mates and Ireland supporters have been waiting for.

It was a monumental effort of concentration, with patience rather than acceleration the watchword.

His first 50 took 90 balls and included 10 fours and he added another four boundaries in his second 50 which arrived seven balls slower.

Having turned down an offer of bad light half an hour before the close - a day which stared an hour late because of a damp outfield - he reached his 150 from 297 balls with 18 fours and it will be fascinating to see just how much further he can go.

Ireland will, undoubtedly, go for quick runs in the morning and with Kevin O'Brien 25 not out - from 80 balls - to be followed by Alex Cusack and Trent Johnston and the big hitting Dave Langford-Smith, Porterfield can afford to hold an end up and even threaten Eoin Morgan's Ireland record of 209.

The best total of 531 looks safe but no matter when Ireland pull out, they should be comfortably safe to pick up the six points for the first innings lead and then get the 14 points for a win sometime.

Andrew White may not agree everything went to plan. Given another chance to open the batting because Greg Thompson who chosen in preference to Dom Joyce, White survived a big appeal for caught behind off his fifth ball, broke his bat with his ninth and pulled his 10th onto his stumps.

Niall O'Brien was the other batsman who got the middle and after scoring 39 from 56 balls he was caught, pulling, at backward square leg, the same position off the same bowler as in the World League game in Nairobi.

That ended in a win and it is surely a matter of when not if Ireland beat Bermuda again.

Scoreboard

Ireland 1st innings

W Porterfield not out 153

A White b O' Brien 5

A Botha c Leverock b Kelly 122

N O' Brien c Kelly b Leverock 39

K O'Brien not out 25

Extras: (1b, 9lb, 7nb, 1 w) 18

Total (three wickets, 98 overs) 362

To bat: A Cusack, T Johnston, K McCallan, T Fourie, G Thompson, D Langford-Smith.

Fall: 1-7 2-228 3-300

Bowling: G O' Brien 14-3-64-1 R Steede 17-4-51-0 M Jones 14-1-56-0 S Kelly 15-0-68-1 R Trott 9-1-27-0 D Leverock 19-3-62-1 I Romaine 9-3-22-0 S Outerbridge 1-0-2-0

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