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Sporting Flashback: On This Day in 2006... England in Stormont first


Looking back: Andrew White

Looking back: Andrew White

Looking back: Andrew White

The temporary stands were in place for the first time at a cricket international on June 13, 2006. Stormont was the venue and England were in town for Ireland's first one-day international.

Six of the team that had regained the Ashes the previous summer were in the starting line-up but, to the disappointment of the record 7,500 in attendance, Kevin Pietersen was left out and there was also no room for one Alastair Cook - still to make his ODI debut - who had already scored 91 not out for Essex against Ireland in the Benson & Hedges Cup five weeks earlier.

Opening the batting for England was Irishman Ed Joyce, who was not only making his debut for the Three Lions but taking on his brother Dominick, who would face the first ball of the Ireland innings.

While Joyce was one that got away - if only for six years - Ireland also had to go into the game without Eoin Morgan and Niall O'Brien who were playing for their counties, as they had done against Ireland in the B&H Cup, and Wiliam Porterfield, just two games into his Ireland career, was left out in favour of Dave Langford-Smith because Andre Botha could not bowl.

Ireland could not complain of a lack of preparation for their ODI bow - this was their 10th game of the summer and they had beaten Gloucestershire by 47 runs in Bristol. That was a rare highlight, though, and those were the days when spectators came to see the opposition 'stars' rather than any expectation of an Irish win.

Andrew White, playing his 64th game for Ireland, remembers the build-up.

"There were no cap presentations (as there would be for the inaugural Test match 12 years later) but it was a hugely significant stepping stone for Irish cricket, getting ODI status," said White.

"We had played a lot of one-day games before then, and beaten Zimbabwe and West Indies in successive years, so it was just a case of going out and doing your job and we thrived on the occasion."

Befitting the occasion, the president of ICC, Ehsan Mani, was the chief guest and in a link to Ireland's most famous win to date - against West Indies at Sion Mills - Clive Lloyd was match referee.

After Andrew Strauss won the toss, Langford-Smith had Joyce caught at deep square leg for 10 to claim Ireland's first ODI wicket and although Strauss and Paul Collingwood went cheaply, a fourth-wicket stand of 142 between Marcus Trescothick and Ian Bell put England in control.

"Trescothick hit a run-a-ball 113 and Bell got 80, both had outstanding international careers and they showed how good they were that day," said White. "After that, there were always going to be others who would chip in and Geraint Jones and Glen Chapple scored quickly to get them up to 300, but we stuck to our task.

"We had chased 295 against West Indies in 2004 and while that was a big score in those days, it was only par on the day, so it wasn't beyond the realms of possibility we could have got it."

At 118-2 in reply, it was still game on but the dismissal of Kyle McCallan to Steve Harmison led to four wickets falling for 17 and for White it was a case of rebuilding.

"The fact we almost doubled the score with the last four wickets was a good effort," he added. "There were plenty of overs left, Kevin O'Brien was playing only his second game, having made his debut against Sussex two days earlier so it was a case of talking him through the early stages, but he looked at home as he would throughout his long career."

White, who scored 40 off 42 balls, and O'Brien added 74 for the seventh wicket and John Mooney's quick-fire 30 took them to within 38 of England's total and respectability. The future was bright. Ireland were in the big time.

Scores: England 301-7 (M Trescothick 113, I Bell 80; D Langford-Smith 3-63, J Mooney 3-79) Ireland 263-9 (A Botha 50, A White 40, K O'Brien 35, J Mooney 30, K McCallan 24, J Bray 22; S Harmison 3-58). England won by 38 runs.

Belfast Telegraph