Belfast Telegraph

Rain saves Irish batsmen after a Hatchett attack

By Ian Callender

Ireland A’s struggles in Sussex went from bad to worse on the last day of their three-day game against the county’s 2nd XI.

Although rain may have saved them from defeat it was a match which left the vast majority of the players further away from the senior team.

Set 329 to win in 79 overs, only 23 overs were possible, but the Ireland batting hopefuls had slumped to 83 for seven when the game was abandoned as a draw shortly after lunch. The bowlers had fared no better in the morning as the Sussex batsmen helped themselves to 116 from just 15 overs to set up the early declaration.

John Mooney, already in the 13-man squad for next Thursday’s ODI against Australia at Clontarf, completed a satisfactory match with a top score of 25 before getting a poor decision, one of four yesterday as everything seemed to contrive against the visitors.

But Andre Botha, if he retains his place in the starting line-up to face the world champions, can be only selected as a specialist bowler after a second successive failure with the bat, although he too claimed not to get a touch before being given out caught behind for just one.

As for the rest, only Andrew Poynter, already with four ODI appearances, stated his case for promotion and added 18 to his first innings 66 and was one of only two Irish batsmen to score more than 22 in the match.

Ireland were actually 12 for four as left arm opening bowler Lewis Hatchett took a wicket in each of his first three overs to deflate the ambitions of Chris Dougherty, Rory McCann and James Hall and Botha followed in the sixth over to leave Mooney and Poynter to perform the rescue act.

Niall McDonnell, held back to No 7, was unbeaten when the rain arrived, but had no chance to make an impact after his first innings disappointment.

Coach Adrian Birrell, who will be handing over duties for 40 days to allow him to take over his work with the England under19 side this summer, had no excuses.

“We struggled for the whole game and were outplayed for most of it. Our fielding stood up well, but they must stay inside the boundary and they couldn’t do anything when balls kept clearing the rope,” he said.

“They (Sussex 2nds) were a strong side, but we should have been at least as good as them. They adapted better to the conditions.”

Belfast Telegraph

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