Let's kick on from Ireland's West Indies win: Phil
Published 21/02/2014 | 01:30
It was Phil Simmons' proudest moment as Ireland coach. In his 201st game, he not only masterminded a victory over the world champions but the world Twenty20 holders who just happen to represent the country and team he played for on 169 occasions. If it was an audition to be the next West Indies coach, Ireland should be worried.
Victory over England at the 2011 World Cup finals is still the pinnacle and No 1 for Ireland supporters – their greatest victory – but yesterday many astute judges both within and outside the Ireland camp were promoting Wednesday's six wickets victory over West Indies in Sabina Park into second place, even above the win that moved Ireland onto a different level, their 2007 St Patrick's Day success over Pakistan, at Sabina Park.
Simmons refuses to join that debate but admitted: "It was a special win and made me very proud. To beat the World Twenty20 champions on their own turf was a tremendous achievement by the boys and they totally deserved it.
"Coming less than a month before our first match in this year's World Twenty20, it will give us great confidence but first we have another game on Friday and then the one-day international on Sunday. If we can reproduce yesterday's form then we should be ready to give a good account of ourselves in Bangladesh."
Seven years ago Ireland got help from the pitch which, famously, was as green as the day on which it was played. This time it was almost concrete white and Darren Sammy, the West Indies captain, had no hesitation in batting first. But it was the Ireland bowlers who again held the aces, restricting their hosts to 116 for eight, and the batsmen finished the job with five balls to spare.
And if Ireland can repeat their win tonight, it will be their first series victory against a Full Member – in their first ever away series against one of the top eight Test nations.
But both coach and captain, William Porterfield, insist Ireland must improve if they are to make it 2-0.
"We were three down after 40 balls and there are not a lot of Twenty20 games you come out on top after a start like that," said Porterfield, who knows his own form has to improve, having scored only 32 runs in four competitive innings on this tour.
Still, it is a team game and this was, undoubtedly, a significant Irish success. Victory over a Full Member in a Twenty20 international has been a long time coming.
Apart from a win against Bangladesh in a warm-up game ahead of the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka in 2012, Ireland's only other win in 15 previous attempts was against the Tigers in the ICC event three years earlier at Trent Bridge.
Ed Joyce's percentage of wins is rather better – this was his second in six T20 internationals –and in his 100th innings for Ireland he won the man of the match. He does not play in the shortest format for Sussex, even though he is the county's captain, but there is a reassuring presence as Ireland's most stylish and gifted batsman strides to the middle at No 3.
With a target of less than a run-a-ball, it was the perfect scenario for Joyce, but Porterfield knows he has a real gem in his team.
"He adapts his game to the situation. If you want to him to score at 120 (runs per 100 balls) he will do that but it was a great effort from him and everyone else around him. We have shown glimpses in World Twenty20 games before, we restricted West Indies to 130-odd and England to 120 in the West Indies in 2010, but to get over the line was very satisfying.
"But they are world champions, they will come back strong on Friday and we would expect no different. But we have to maintain the standard, or keep on improving and I hope it will be another good game," added Porterfield.