Ireland went into today’s World Cricket League final against Scotland with a 100% record and a full-strength team, but quite how they beat the Netherlands in their final round-robin game at Amstelveen yesterday — well, not even captain for the day Kevin O‘Brien could answer that.
A total of 177 on a good batting track had no right to be a winning score, and when the Dutch were 132-4 in reply, and with O’Brien running out of ideas and bowling options, it was a question of when, not if, the hosts would triumph.
But, in one of the more amazing finales that this Ireland team has conjured up, O’Brien threw the ball to George Dockrell, and in tandem with Paul Stirling the teenage slow bowlers took the last six Dutch wickets for six runs.
The simple explanation for the result is that the Netherlands tail order batsmen had no idea how to score runs on a turning pitch, but that still doesn’t justify why Borren was left on his own to single-handedly take on an under-strength bowling attack.
John Mooney — who doesn’t even open for his club side — was given the new ball with O’Brien and Nigel Jones, who has bowled his full quota for Ireland only three times in his first 14 matches as the only back-up.
Mooney claimed the big wicket of Tom Cooper, Dockrell took two in his first two overs, and with O’Brien also on target, the Dutch were 59 for four.
But captain Peter Borren joined Baz Zuiderent in the middle, and they forced O’Brien to make seven bowling changes in 16 overs as the batsmen took control. The partnership was worth 73 and they were just 46 runs from the winning post when Borren tried to sweep Dockrell and was bowled.
At the other end Zuiderent was probably fearful of what was to come and, as it turned out, he had every right to be worried. Once Borren was out his attempts to take the lead only led to his dismissal, Stirling having him caught at short fine leg, above his head by Albert van der Merwe.
Ireland’s batting outside man of the match Stirling, White, Mooney, and McCann is best forgotten, and they can only hope that others will come good in today’s final.