Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Cricket: Stirling century caps great day at Rathmines

Paul Stirling’s sixth international century led an Ireland runs feast on the first day of their Intercontinental Cup match against Canada at Rathmines yesterday.



Stirling hit 107 as Ireland finished the day on 435 for seven. Only once before has an Ireland side scored more runs in a day, four years ago in Abu Dhabi when, with the help of an unbeaten 182 from Eoin Morgan, they amassed 461 for two.

This was, arguably, an even better effort on a much softer pitch although the Canada bowling was just as weak as the UAE’s in 2007 and their fielding was even worse. But, you can only score runs against the team put in front of you and only Andrew Poynter and Andrew White could have said to have failed.

White owed the Ireland team nothing after his undefeated 145 runs in last week’s victory against Namibia but his 19 runs yesterday still came at a run-a-ball. However, he was left in the shade first by an opening stand of 155 in just 37 overs between Stirling — who hit 18 fours and two sixes — and Gary Wilson, whose 61 was highest score in the competition and matched his previous best this year, against West Indies in the World Cup.

Alex Cusack played a typical rearguard innings but he was no slouch with 81 from 127 balls. But the innings of the day, not for the first time, came from Kevin O’Brien who was able to raise his bat for the first time since his record-breaking century against England in Bangalore.

He made 79 from just 59 deliveries, with 12 fours and his 99th six. He was, not surprisingly, caught at long-off going for the landmark maximum.

Young Stuart Poynter, in only his second game, maintained the momentum with a run-a-ball 31 and Ireland still have John Mooney, after a non-risk 25 off 69 balls, and George Dockrell, on the back of his 50 last week, to resume this morning.

Canada will have to bat much better than they have bowled or fielded if they are to avoid an innings defeat.

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England trio Eoin Morgan, Tim Bresnan and Chris Tremlett and have been handed central contracts for the first time.

All three were members of England's Ashes winning squad this winter and have been rewarded by the England and Wales Cricket Board with their elevation to the elite 13-man list.

Paul Collingwood, who retired from Test cricket following the Ashes, is the only player demoted while Ajmal Shahzad, who also toured Australia for the Test series, is not included.

Bresnan claimed the wicket that ensured England retained the little urn in Melbourne while Tremlett completed a first series win Down Under in 24 years in the final Test at the SCG.

While Morgan did not play a Test match he has become arguably England's best batsman in the limited over format.

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