Irish World Cup dream over
Ger Siggins (Irish Daily Star)
IRELAND’S World Cup dream fell at the final fence yesterday, but they can feel proud of a performance that at times rattled the giants of the game.
They bowed out on net run rate to West Indies – who they had beaten in their opening fixture – in the end victims of the ferocious poundings at the hands of South Africa and India’s batsmen.
As suspected from the start of the event, the Irish bowlers just weren’t up to the job.
Ireland had the bowlers to beat Pakistan yesterday, there’s no doubt about that.
But Tim Murtagh was sitting in London with his feet up, waiting for injury to heal.
And Boyd Rankin was in Florida, working on his tan and polishing his England Lions blazer buttons.
But sitting in the dug-out at the Adelaide Oval were two young men who were brought to the competition after having excellent winters on the preparation tours.
Peter Chase and Craig Young have had lots of time, money and effort invested in getting them ready to bowl against the world’s best batsmen at this World Cup. But when it came down to it they weren’t trusted to do so.
Neither might have been able to dismiss Shikhar Dhawan or stem the flow from AB de Villiers bat, but as they spent the whole competition sitting in the dug-out we will never know.
Needing to beat Pakistan, William Porterfield opted to bat and took the game to the opposition.
The captain had probably his finest hour in the colours, pulling and driving against an attack with four bowlers working at 143kph or higher. He made a brilliant 107, and even when he was out Ireland looked set to make 280-300.
But his teammates couldn’t stay with Porterfield long enough, and the tail just couldn’t cope with the high quality seam bowling.
Nine Irish players got a start, reaching double figures, but only two got past 18.
Facing top class bowling brings doubts and bad decisions, but too many Irish bats threw their wickets away with careless shots.
Kevin O’Brien struggled to get on strike but even when he did he failed to score off 11 of the 16 balls he faced over nine overs, scoring 8.
A total of 237 looked way short of par, and Ireland knew their only chance would be to take early wickets.
It wasn’t to be, as Sarfraz (101no) and Shehzad (63) took the score to 124 without loss.
Stuart Thompson made the breakthrough, but thereafter it was a stroll for Pakistan and the only wickets lost were to batsman error.
There was a dispiriting passage of play before the end when Sarfraz and Umar Akmal toyed with the bowlers in an attempt to get the senior man on strike to complete his hundred.
It was cruel and disrespectful, and if there’s one thing this Irish side deserves is respect.
“It’s obviously disappointing to go out on net run rate”, said Porterfield, “but a lot of people have appreciated the style of cricket and entertainment we brought to the competition. How we’ve played our cricket has been the most pleasing thing for ourselves.
“We had a bit of platform but when I got out it’s a difficult time around the 40, with the ball reversing, so I take a bit of the blame myself.
“New lads starting in the last ten is very difficult. Ideally we should have had a few more wickets in hand.”
The group stage ends with apparent success of Ireland’s main off-field target of getting the 10-team World Cup back on the ICC’s agenda.
It would be hard to imagine the 2019 competition without an Ireland side and all will be clearer when the ICC board meets in Dubai next month.
As it is, the Irish side won’t be the same again without their manager, Roy Torrens, who bowed out yesterday after almost 50 years in Irish cricket.
“It’s a sad day to see Roy go”, said Porterfield. “He’s been a great servant but we’ll see him off in style tonight.”
With doubts over Phil Simmons’s future and that of other players and members of the set-up, it could be a very different line-up that takes the field against England at Malahide on May 8th.