IRELAND came, saw and were truly conquered as their first invitation to face top class opposition on foreign soil ended in another crushing defeat.

A game against the world champions and No 1 ranked side was always going to be an unfair contest, considering Ireland’s miserable record this year, and long before the end Australia were able to use the game as practice for their upcoming five-match ODI series here in South Africa.

The final margin was nine wickets, with almost 20 overs to spare, but even that doesn’t sound as bad as the 206 runs defeat to the hosts on Sunday, so perhaps it was just as well that captain William Porterfield won another toss and this time, wisely, chose to bat.

It wasn’t a defensive option – Australia skipper Steven Smith said he would have done the same – and while Paul Stirling was swinging hard, and connecting, in a first wicket stand of 47, it all looked very promising.

But after hitting 30 from 27 balls, his attempt at a seventh boundary went straight to cover and although John Anderson, who hit his highest score in a one-day international, and vice-captain Gary Wilson put on 49 for the third wicket, that was as good as it got, the last seven wickets falling for 77 runs with 37 balls unused.

A target of 199 was never going to challenge an Australia side who may be without five first choice bowlers but they had two recent World Cup winners in David Warner and Smith in their top three and with the other opener, Usman Khawaja claiming the man of the match with his unbeaten 82, from 77 balls, the game was actually over 30 minutes earlier than Sunday’s one-sided contest.

Wilson, though, insisted, it was another invaluable experience “We have seen in these two games what the best players in the world do and that’s what we have to aspire to. The beauty about it is that we now have four months without cricket when we are going to have to get our heads down and work hard to get somewhere near this level because quite evidently there has been a gulf between the teams. And while we are missing some key players that’s what we have to aspire to and put things right,” he said.

“We have a lot of young talent but there has to come a time when the talent turns in performances and I have no doubt we have got that in us but it certainly hasn’t worked out in the last two games or indeed this year (with heavy defeats to Sri Lanka, Pakistan and a group exit in the World Twenty20). But least we have four months to get it right."

At the end of those four months, a nine-match series, across all three formats, against Afghanistan in India awaits.

“We have to be looking at going there and winning every game. This is as hard as it gets, it’s the first time we have ever been invited to a Full Member nation, apart from Zimbabwe, to play them in their own back yard so it has been a huge experience for us and while we are not content just to take it with the beatings, we have to be confident of taking down Afghanistan in March,” added Wilson.

The class Ireland bowler on show was, inevitably, Tim Murtagh, who seemed to bowling on a different pitch to everyone else and fully deserved Warner’s wicket.

Worryingly though, one of the young guns, Peter Chase conceded 55 runs in just five overs – bringing his aggregate to 211 runs in his last 22 ODI overs, with just one wicket to show for it – George Dockrell, still preferred to Andy McBrine, was again wicketless and even Barry McCarthy for the first time, in his eighth international, drew a blank although that was because Chase dropped Khawaja on eight.

Ireland have never beaten Australia, and without the experience of Ed Joyce and Boyd Rankin it was always going to be an impossible task. For the squad in 2017, the only way is up.