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New Ireland cricket coach John Bracewell had right to expect better

By Staff Reporter

As first impressions go, it was not a good one in front of new Ireland coach John Bracewell.

There's nothing anyone can do about the weather so it was easy to put the Ireland-England ODI, abandoned due to rain after just 75 minutes, in the "let's move on to the next one" category but the inter-provincial championship game between Leinster Lightning and North West Warriors at Clontarf was a totally different matter.

Bracewell must have shuddered, watching his first day of representative cricket, as 20 wickets fell on a far from bowler-friendly pitch, but was undoubtedly encouraged by the Lightning comeback on day two as they posted 365 for five.

Indeed, he even personally congratulated Bill Coghlan on his century.

But the decision to abandon the game on day three less than half way through the day must have left the Kiwi bemused. It would certainly have left the spectators angry - if there had been any!

As it was, at 2.30pm the captains decided to give up on the game, not because there was no chance of any play, despite a morning of heavy rain, but rather because there was "no chance of a positive result".

Quite how that conclusion was reached beggars belief because, as confirmed with the groundsman shortly after the premature conclusion, the ground would have been ready for play by 4pm.

Even giving the ground an extra 15 minutes to recover there would still have been time to play 20 overs before final hour (of 16 overs minimum) was due to begin at 5.30pm.

A declaration by Lightning skipper John Mooney at that stage, therefore, would have left Warriors with a victory target of 209 in 36 overs.

Mooney's reaction was "there would have been only one winner", adding: "The shorter the game the more it favoured Warriors."

Fair enough, but was 36 overs not more than enough time for Lightning to take 10 wickets? Especially if Warriors fancied the chase of just under a run a ball when attacking play can invariably lead to wickets falling, and even if they tried to "shut up shop" the momentum would have been with the fielding side.

Having surrendered the initiative and a first innings lead of 159, Warriors captain Andy McBrine probably couldn't believe his counterpart's offer of a draw and gratefully headed home early to beat the Dublin rush-hour.

Whether the umpires should even have brought the captains into play is a completely different argument - they have sole jurisdiction over ground conditions when play is held up - but they can hardly have expected the skippers to come to such a speedy arrangement.

Would the decision have been different if the ground had been filled with people? That's one question that was never going to arise because, once again, despite free entry for all inter-provincial fixtures, it was barely double figures most of the time.

Bracewell will not be too worried at the lack of spectator interest - a common factor at most multi-day matches - but if Cricket Ireland are serious about asking for the Championship to be a first-class competition, captains cannot call off a match because there is no chance of a result!

Belfast Telegraph


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