Simi Singh not only scored his maiden international century against South Africa on Friday but was also the first player to bat at No 8 or lower in any one-day international to reach three figures.
England’s Chris Woakes had the previous highest score, of 95 not out, but thanks to a last wicket stand of 47 with Craig Young, Singh took the chance to break the world record in the 4,305th ODI.
“To get my first ton against a team like South Africa was a dream come true,” said Singh, “especially at Malahide where I started my cricket in Ireland. It is a huge achievement in my cricket career.
“We were disappointed not to win the series but, overall, were happy with the way we played, the way we fielded, the way we competed against some of the best batsmen in the world and to get 15 points (in the World Cup Super League table) was a a great result for us.”
It is a quick turnaround for the teams because this afternoon they meet, still at Malahide, in the first of three T20 internationals - Ireland’s first game in the shortest format since the day before the Covid pandemic was declared in March last year.
With just 13 weeks before the start of the T20 World Cup in UAE, Ireland must hit the ground running in their preparation and the selectors have made four changes to the ODI squad with the return of Kevin O’Brien and Shane Getkate plus the uncapped duo of Ben White and William McClintock.
“It’s a massive series for us,” adds Singh. “and we can definitely take confidence from the ODs into the series. It’s the first time we have had the chance to play South Africa in a T20 series so it’s a great opportunity for us, especially at home, and then we have the Zimbabwe series coming up.
“We’re a pretty experienced squad now, plus the new lads coming in and in T20 you just have to back your skills, get the death bowling right and with the bat hit your areas and boundaries.”
Andrew Balbirnie led the praise for Singh after his century on Friday, admitting no player deserved it more.
““Simi spends more time in the nets than anyone else,” he said. “He works so hard on his game and has grown into a top all-rounder for us. He’s had a few scores in the last six months which have propelled him into a genuine all-rounder. I also thought he bowled well on Friday.”
And it’s not just Simi has proven his worth as an all-rounder. Andy (McBrine) and George Dockrell are the mainstays of this team going forward.
“We will take a lot from this week, playing in front of fans in a heatwave. The lads have stood up and been counted and I’m very proud.
And Balbirnie is looking forward to playing in front of an even bigger crowd at Stormont on Thursday and Saturday in the second and third T20 internationals, with Cricket Ireland hoping to release more tickets if they can get the current capacity of 500 increased.
“The fans have a big influence, players thrive in front of a crowd, their famiy and friends. This week there was a spine-tingling atmosphere, even when warming up.
“It’s been tough over the last 12 months putting in performances with no one around so hopefully we are nearing the back end of that and its very pleasing to see people back in the ground.
Ireland’s match practice plans for the T20 World Cup have been disrupted because they were due to play Netherlands and Namibia in warm-up games to the tournament, but now, following a laate change to the groups by ICC, based on this year’s rankings, both teams are now in Ireland’s preliminary group.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe went 2-0 down to Bangladesh in their three-match WCSL series in Harare, the Tigers following up their 155 runs win with a three wickets success yesterday