|World Cricket League Division 1: Nairobi, January-February 2007|
Johnston sees Ireland home
Ian Callender, Newsletter
IT is not often the loss of a wicket in the closing stages of a one-day international helps the batting team but the worst thing Bermuda did in their impressive defence of 275 against Ireland was to dismiss Kyle McCallan.
The Ireland vice-captain was perfectly capable of seeing the job through to its conclusion - scoring at a run a ball - but when he was dismissed, the entry of Trent Johnston made their task of scoring 20 from 15 balls that much easier.
Sure enough, the skipper hit his second ball for six - his fifth in two days - and another boundary clearance in the next over, from his third ball, all but finished off the Bermudans chance of a World League upset.
Fittingly, it was William Porterfield who scored the winning runs, with nine balls to spare, because just as Jeremy Bray had masterminded Ireland’s ultimately unsuccessful total of 280 against Scotland on Tuesday, it was the 22 year old from Donemana who was the immovable batsman as Ireland got their WCL campaign off the ground with a four wickets win.
Porterfield was there throughout the Ireland reply, his ninth and final boundary giving him his highest score, bettering by two runs his innings at Lord’s last August. He faced 142 balls and although he selfishly took 17 balls to get through the 90s, he did not seriously jeopardise his team’s chances of victory.
It was a win, against the weakest team in the group, however, that will hardly instil the team with confidence going into tomorrow’s mammoth game against Kenya. The Ireland bowling will have to improve by about 100 per cent if the World League hosts - who accounted for the Dutch yesterday by seven wickets - are to be undermined.
The bowlers were below par against the Scots on Tuesday. Yesterday they were much worse. Dave Langford-Smith, their most dependable pace bowler in the second half of last season, was left out - “probably a wrong selection”, National Coach Adrian Birrell admitted after the match - because his replacement Boyd Rankin could not control the swinging white ball when Ireland chose to bowl first in overcast conditions which, so far, has been the norm in the 9.30am starts.
Johnston said the “ball was swinging from my hand” and he didn’t know what to do as his first three overs went for 18, including four wides and with first choice replacements Paul Mooney and Kevin O’Brien just as bad - 28 runs from their five overs with two sets of five wides - Johnston had to delay the second power play and was using his sixth bowler, off spinner McCallan, by the 12th over.
Fortunately Kyle made the breakthrough in his second over - trapping the big hitting Clay Smith for 52 (47 balls, seven fours and two sixes) - and normality was restored.
Ireland had to wait another 19 overs before claiming their second wicket but at least Bermuda scored only 80 runs, which is acceptable in the middle of an ODI innings. Andrew White, who along with McCallan, was the exception to the bowling debacle, was responsible for getting Ireland back on track although he was one of the guilty men in a fielding performance which was not up to their own high standards.
Even Kenny Carroll, who caught everything that went near him yesterday, put down a “dolly”, which gave Lionel Cann an extra 44 runs, Porterfield “the best fielder in the tournament bar none” according to his captain, spilled one at the fifth attempt and confusion between White and Mooney, who left a skyer from Janeiro Tucker to each other, cost more runs. It didn’t matter in the end because Bermuda, more predictably, were just as generous in the field although neither of the straightforward chances offered by Carroll and Kevin O’Brien cost much and Porterfield’s only ‘life’ on 56 was a difficult return catch to Tucker.
From the start of their reply, however, Ireland batted with confidence and purpose, the running between the wickets particularly good between Porterfield and Kevin O’Brien.
The opening stand put on 78 in 14 overs - just three balls slower than Bermuda’s - with Carroll showing why the coach had confidence in him, pulling the opening bowler for six and following up with a lovely late cut for four in the next over. Disappointingly, he lobbed a drive straight to mid-on just when he was set.
Eoin Morgan mis-hit a pull to the same position six balls later and Niall O’Brien was his usual busy self before he too self-destructed after scoring 25 from 28. His younger, much less experienced brother, however, confirmed why he is getting his chance at No 5 with 54 from 58 balls and his share of the fourth wicket stand of 88 in 16 overs which put Ireland firmly in control.
Porterfield did not hit a single boundary in his second 50 and the one that won the match was his first for 30 overs. But, there are many different ways to win - and lose - a match and in the first two days of the World League, Ireland have contrived to do both. The European champions know that three more wins will still put them in the final. Hopefully a day’s rest will be enough before Ireland face their toughest opposition.