Irish bowlers must be great against Scots
Ireland's bowlers will come under the microscope when they face Scotland in the first of two one-day internationals at Stormont tomorrow (10.30am start), the teams' last games in the World Cricket League.
The Scotland batting line-up may not have players of the calibre of Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara, but the two England batsmen exposed Ireland's bowling attack as they posted a world record fifth wicket partnership of 226 to win the glamour game of the season at Ireland's new headquarters in Malahide on Tuesday.
As for Morgan, he hopes to remain an inspiration for Ireland's aspiring cricketers despite his prominent role in seeing off his home country.
Morgan, 26, played 23 ODIs for Ireland before switching his allegiance to England and has since gone on to appear in 80 more, as well as 16 Tests, for his adopted country.
As Irish cricket grows in strength, it is a pathway that other promising players continue to follow with Boyd Rankin the latest ex-Ireland international to appear in England colours.
The matter is a problem for Ireland and is likely to remain one until they acquire Test status.
Morgan – England's stand-in one-day captain this autumn – was initially booed by the Irish crowd as he made his way to the crease on what was his old club ground at Malahide.
But he feels it is only natural that players should want to maximise their potential by moving to England and is pleased if youngsters are inspired by his own and Rankin's achievements.
"Absolutely," he said, when asked if he wanted to remain a role model in Ireland.
"I think Irish cricket looks upon us with great admiration for the way we go about our hard work and utilise the talent we have.
"I certainly hope they do, although we have moved on paths we want to go down."
It is how Ireland bounce back from the mauling Morgan led in the field – the stand lasted only 28 overs – which will be revealing moving forward, because this was not the first time that their medium pacers and spin bowlers were caught in the headlights when it mattered.
Increasingly they are enduring nightmare spells when trying to defend competitive totals.
Unless coach Phil Simmons gives North County all-rounder Eddie Richardson a debut tomorrow, it is likely to be an unchanged attack with Kevin O'Brien, John Mooney, George Dockrell and Paul Stirling having much to prove.
Tim Murtagh, Trent Johnston and, to a lesser extent, Max Sorensen can be excused criticism after their impressive new ball spells, while captain William Porterfield admitted he probably got it wrong when not recalling Sorensen until the 42nd over. Morgan and Bopara reached England's target of 270 in the 43rd!
With nothing at stake for Ireland over the next couple of matches, it is a chance for them to prove they are out on their own at Associate level and two victories will give them the extra satisfaction of ending Scotland's hopes of automatic qualification.
Porterfield said: "We are focused on playing good cricket and finishing the competition strongly. For us, it doesn't matter that we've already won the competition, we will approach these games just like any other.
"Without a doubt, we are looking to win both games.
"We want to keep showing people that Ireland are the leading Associate side and deserve to be in every global event."