Ireland A set mammoth task in Sussex
Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
IRELAND A were set a notional victory target of 547 on the final day to win this three-day game against Sussex 2nd XI in Blackstone; just to bat out the remaining six hours and save the match is barely realistic.
It has been men against boys so far with Ireland out of their depth in both batting and bowling, the county doing much as they like. They even turned down the possibility of a two-day win to bat for a second time and with a first innings lead of 275 they almost doubled that in less than 58 overs as a demoralised side attempted to restrict the damage.
Resuming at 13 for one, in reply to Sussex’s 426 for seven declared, Ireland were dismissed for 151, losing their last five wickets for 20 runs. After losing Ben Ackland, to his first ball of the day, and Ryan Hunter in the seventh over, a meaningful reply depended on senior internationals James Shannon and Andrew Balbirnie.
But their fourth wicket partnership was cut short at just 28 when the captain was caught at backward point and when Balbirnie followed just 12 runs later, Ireland were 79 for five and in trouble.
The other senior international in this line-up, Stuart Poynter, came to the rescue with the best Irish innings of the day, 42 from 44 balls with no fewer than nine boundaries, all cleanly hit and invariably well placed.
But the introduction of spin accounted for the wicket-keeper, Will Beer striking with his first ball and 13 deliveries later he had taken two more without conceding a run.
The follow-on was not enforced to allow Nitesh Patel, on a one-off trial with the county, to make up for his first ball duck and he did not disappoint, completing a century off 154 balls with 11 boundaries and the declaration followed almost immediately to end the day.
Ireland were handicapped by the loss of Scott Campbell, who was sick overnight and unable to take any part yesterday while Alex O’Brien, in his first action at this level, was welcomed to the big time – his four overs disappearing for 34 runs.