Sunday, February 14, 2010

2010 ICC World Twenty20 Group Draw


Not so much a draw, as they groups are ordered according to their ranking. Due to their loss against Afghanistan yesterday, Ireland are placed in Group D alongside England the West Indies. Afghanistan were put in Group C with South Africa and India, and thus may have a better chance of coming second and making the Super Eights. But as you all know, in Twenty20 anything can happen - even a win over England.

(Rankings in brackets.)

Pakistan (1)
Bangladesh (9)
Australia (10)

Sri Lanka (2)
New Zealand (5)
Zimbabwe (8)

South Africa (3)
India (7)
Afghanistan (Q)

West Indies (4)
England (6)
Ireland (Q)

30 April - West Indies v IRELAND
1 May - England v IRELAND
3 May - West Indies v England

Friday, February 12, 2010

Ireland v Scotland T20 Match Report

Trent Johnston

Ireland qualified for the Super Fours section of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifying tournament yesterday with a marvellous all-round game of cricket.

Once again Ireland won the toss and chose to bat. Although no Irish batsman scored more than nineteen runs (a score matched by both Andrew White and Gary Wilson), all players but one ended in double figures. This was a fine example of a team performance at bat, with all players having a decent strike rate, and driving Ireland towards their final score of 136/7.

Openers William Porterfield and Niall O'Brien worked well together once more, with a 31 partnership, and scoring 18 and 17 respectively. Perhaps the brief highlight of Irish batting was Kevin O'Brien's marvellous ten off just four balls - a strike rate of 250.00. He was the only Irishman to hit a six yesterday.

Scotland's batting was the opposite of Ireland's, with just two players entering double figures. This was due, once again, to impressive Irish bowling. The Irish bowlers have improved vastly since their opening game, and were fantastic again yesterday, with Scotland all out for 99 in 18.3 overs.

Neil McCallum and Gordon Drummond were the top scorers yesterday (43 and 35), but neither was enough to give Scotland the victory. The Scots were just 6/4 in the second over, thanks to a stellar performance from Peter Connell and Trent Johnston, who took two wickets each in those two overs. That second over would give Johnston the man of the match award, as it was a double wicket maiden - a very rare sight in Twenty20 Cricket.

Johnston also took the wicket of Jan Stander in the fourth over, but the game was very much a team effort, and Alex Cusack, Kevin O'Brien, and George Dockrell (2) also took wickets of their own. The match finished in style, as the last four wickets fell in quick succession, giving the Irish a 37 run victory, and in high spirits heading towards the next stage of the competition.

Ireland take on UAE today in the Super Fours at 12.00 GMT, and will play the Netherlands tomorrow (Saturday) at the same time. If ranked in the top two, they will play the final on Sunday. Both finalists will make it to the ICC World Twenty20 in April, with the winner being inserted in Group C and the loser in Group D.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ireland v USA T20 Match Report

Niall O'Brien

Ireland achieved their record high score in Twenty20 Cricket yesterday as they opened with a marvellous 202 (for 4) against the United States of America.

William Porterfield won the toss and chose to bat first. He formed an excellent opening partnership with Niall O'Brien, scoring 83 for first wicket in 8.3 overs, and setting the pace early on. His replacement, Alex Cusack was just as good. Porterfield scored 45 and Cusack 46, but the real star of the innings was O'Brien, who looked destined for his first century at this level. He ended on 84 from 66 balls.

Kevin O'Brien scored three from three, but was once again too aggressive. Trent Johnston and Gary Wilson closed out the innings, scoring 12 and 5 respectively. Ireland ended with 202, a score of 10.10 runs per over.

The United States were always on the back foot and Ireland started amazingly with the ball, with their opponents 11 for 5 after 3.2 overs. Paul Connell and Trent Johnson were amazing, especially Connell with a record score of 4-14. Johnston took the other two wickets, ending with 2-17. The bowling throughout the team was much better than in the opener against Afghanistan, and each of the five bowlers stayed the duration.

American prospect Aditya Thyagarajan was amazing on his debut, but it wasn't to be his day, as the match was totally sewn up by his arrival. He scored a fantastic 72 not out, and is surely one to watch for the future. The player of the game, however, was Niall O'Brien with his astounding 84, which included twelve boundaries, two of which were sixes.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ireland to play Jamaica ahead of World Twenty20


Cricket Ireland yesterday announced that Ireland would be taking on Jamaica in April ahead of the World Twenty20 which begins at the end of that month.

Ireland will be competing in a three-day first class match, a one day international, as well as a Twenty20 game. This will be great experience for the Irish side, especially if they can turn things around to qualify for the World Twenty20. If not, it is still a great chance to play a respected side in a variety of matches.

Cricket Ireland's CEO Warren Deutrom had this to say: "Cricket Ireland is excited to be embarking upon this series of matches in the Caribbean against Jamaica and the West Indies. Whether or not we have qualified for the ICC World Twenty20 Cup in the Caribbean, playing against teams of this calibre is exactly what Ireland needs to do in order to both continue its upward curve on the field, and to gain experience of overseas conditions. We are indebted to the foresight of the Jamaica Cricket Association, whose foresight brought about this opportunity."

Kevin O'Brien reaches 100 internationals

Yesterday, Kevin O'Brien became only the tenth Irish cricketer to reach the milestone of one hundred international caps. He's also the youngest (and fastest) player to reach that mark for Ireland.

The twenty-five year old made his Ireland debut just over three years ago (June 13th, 2006) against England in Belfast. He scored an impressive 35 runs as well as bowling a 1-47 in that fifty-over game. His international highlight so far was a 142 against Kenya at the 2007 World Cricket League, as well as a decent World Cup in 2007.

His last few caps have come in quick succession, having played half a dozen matches in the last fortnight. He said of the occasion, "It's come pretty quickly. By the end of the season I could have 150 . The World Cup in 2007 was, of course, the big memory, beating Pakistan and all that. But the first couple of games against Sussex and England were good also. I performed well. But I love putting on the green jersey and it's going to be good on Tuesday to get a hundred."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ireland v Afghanistan T20 Match Report

The captains before the toss

Afghanistan 139/8 defeated Ireland 126/10.

Ireland sadly slumped to defeat in their opening ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in Dubai. They played Afghanistan in Group A, and after winning the toss, chose to field. This was a costly decision, as Afghanistan posted an impressive 139 in the twenty over game.

Ireland started extremely well with Trent Johnston bowling opener Karim Sadiq in the second over. However, Sadiq's partner, Noor Ali proved a much more difficult foe, posting 42 runs off 45 balls. Afghanistan batted very aggressively, losing many wickets to single figures, but the middle order of Mohammad Shahzad, Nowroz Mangal and especially Mohammad Nabi set a high run rate for Ireland to follow. Nabi was man of the match, scoring 43 not out off just 25 balls.

Ireland used six separate bowlers trying to defeat Afghanistan. Trent Johnston and Andre Botha were the best of the Irish, both taking two wickets. Johnston's 2-18 was a very impressive score in his allotted four overs. Kevin O'Brien was expected to bowl four overs, but he gave up twenty runs off just twelve balls, allowing Alex Cusack to get another chance to prove himself. All the Irish bowlers (with the exception of Johnston) will have to raise their game against USA and Scotland if we wish to progress.

The Irish senior cricket team had a target of 140 in 20 overs, which was always a tough challenge. Captain William Porterfield and and young Paul Stirling combined well after Niall O'Brien was caught trying to play aggressively. They put up a partnership of 30, as well as scoring 35 and 21 respectively. Andre Botha lasted just two balls, but scored no runs in a disappointing stint with the bat.

Ireland looked strong even after the loss of Kevin O'Brien and Paul Stirling, but once Alex Cusack was run out chasing the score, Ireland faced a tough challenge - it was a lot to ask of the bowlers to try to win the match. Johnston was the best of the tail, scoring 18 from 17 balls, but the aggressive play led to many mistakes, and Ireland were all out for 126 in the final over.

In the other Group A tie, USA defeated Scotland by 6 wickets. At the moment, Ireland sit bottom of the table with a net run rate of -0.650. Our next game is on at 10.00 GMT tomorrow against USA. Hopefully we can turn it around.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Canada T20 Match Report

Niall O'Brien behind Canadian batsman Hiral Patel

Eighteen year-old Hiral Patel was the hero for Canada as they defeated Ireland by four runs in a tense Twenty20 Cricket match in Sri Lanka at the Associates T20 Series. It was Patel's debut, and his 88 not out set a massive target for Ireland to beat. Ireland won the toss and chose to field, but it could have been an error, as they posted a wonderful 176/3 - a whopping 8.80 runs per over.

Andre Botha was the only Irish players to take any wickets; bowling both Rizwan Cheema and Ashish Bagai, as well as bowling and catching Umar Bhatti with the second last ball. Patel's unbeaten 88, Cheema's 34 and Bagai's 42 set Ireland a large score to overcome. Six other Irish bowlers were used to try and defeat Patel, but his batting was far too strong, scoring eleven boundaries. The Irish bowling economy was disappointing, with Trent Johnston's 6.50 (25 runs from 24 balls) Ireland's best score.

Ireland needed 177 runs from 20 overs, and were constantly playing catch-up. The openers started well - Porterfield and Niall O'Brien had a partnership of 51 for first wicket, in less than five overs. The Irish batsmen had to be very aggressive, and thus mistakes were much more likely. Wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien was Ireland's highest scorer with 50, Gary Wilson made 26, and Paul Stirling 22. Opener Porterfield scored 19, Andre Botha posted 11 runs, and Andrew White was 18 not out. Due to the aggressive nature of the twenty overs, Ireland attempted to go for extra runs at every opportunity. Thus both Kevin O'Brien and John Mooney were run out for 5 and 9 runs respectively. Botha was also run out, trying to meet the required 8.80 runs per over required.

The match went down to the last ball, and if White could have hit a six, Ireland would have won. This morning, that was not to be, and Ireland lost by four runs, ending with an impressive 172/8. On another day, perhaps Ireland would have not had as many run outs and Kevin O'Brien could have stayed batting and significantly helped our cause.

Full Scorecard

Ireland play Sri Lanka A again tomorrow (08:30 GMT) and then take on Canada in a rematch on Sunday at 06:00 GMT.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Afghanistan T20 Match Report

Niall O'Brien

After losing to Sri Lanka A in their first game, Ireland turned things around to beat Afghanistan in the Associates Twenty20 Series. A marvellous stint at bat from captain William Porterfield was the main reason for Ireland's win, as well as some splendid bowling from Trent Johnston, Andre Botha, and George Dockrell.

Afghanistan won the toss and chose to bat at the P Sara Oval in Colombo. They started poorly, with opener Karim Sadiq stumped for three, and although Shafiqullah held on as another wicket was taken, they had four out for just 49 runs, and Ireland looked very much in command. Their star man on the day was Raess Ahmadzai who held on to the end, and scored a very credible 33 not out. Ireland took nine wickets, and Afganistan ended their twenty overs with a makable 121 (6.05 runs per over).

The Irish bowling side was in much better form than against Sri Lanka A, and only five players were utilised, bowling a maximum 4 overs each. Irish cricket legend Trent Johnston started incredibly well, taking out the first three Afghanistan batsmen, and even scoring a maiden over in a phenomenal stint with the ball (he went on to take another wicket, ending with 4-22). Botha took 3 wickets and Dockrell took 2, while Alex Cusack and Kevin O'Brien did only alright, giving away too many runs. Dockrell and Botha were magnificent though, allowing only 11 and 14 runs respectively.

Ireland opened their attack with the same opening duo who played against Sri Lanka A. This time, they were much improved, with Niall O'Brien scoring 18 from 13 balls, and William Porterfield hitting nine boundaries on the way to a very impressive 48 from 30 balls. Ireland were halfway to their target after just 7 overs and looked comfortable until a middle-order batting collapse led to some nervous moments. In just twelve balls, Andre Botha (5 runs), Kevin O'Brien (1), and Paul Stirling (17) were all taken out. However for the second successive match, the duo of John Mooney and Gary Wilson teamed up to close out the match for Ireland. This time however, they were on the winning side. Mooney 8 not out and Wilson 16 not out. Some poor bowling from the Afghanis also allowed thirteen extras, as they used seven different attackers to try and bowl Ireland out. It was not to be, however, as Ireland won with eleven balls remaining.

Ireland take on Canada tomorrow in Colombo as they continue their cricket tour of Sri Lanka. It's on at 04:30 GMT, in case you plan on staying up to keep an eye on it.

Sri Lanka A T20 Match Report

A solid opening innings from Ireland was not enough to overcome Sri Lanka A on Sunday at the Nondescripts Cricket Ground in Colombo. Ireland batted strongly with five players scoring 20 or more, and opener William Porterfield finishing with a strike rate of 150.00. This was not enough, as an all-round team effort from Sri Lanka won the match with one of the allotted twenty overs remaining.

Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to field. Ireland's other opener Niall O'Brien, only lasted two and a half overs and eight balls before being caught for six. Luckily, this did not hinder progress too much, as Andre Botha stepped in to take over. Porterfield was lbwed for 24, Botha and Alex Cusack both ended with 20, and Ireland were 91 for 4 after just 12 overs. Andrew White batted extremely well to keep the score and run rate high scoring 39 off 37 balls. Gary Wilson and John Mooney stayed in until the end, with Mooney hitting 3 off 4 balls, and Wilson scoring a marvellous 28 not out (from just 25 balls). Ireland set a score of 147, at 7.35 runs per over.

Sri Lanka's batting collapsed early, and they were only on a score of 54 with five wickets taken after 7.4 overs. However, Seekkugge Presanna, Chinthaka Jayasinghe, and Jeewan Mendis performed magnificently to bring Sri Lanka back from the brink and win the match with just six balls remaining. Presanna's 28 off 15 balls was extremely impressive.

Phil Eaglestone had been been drafted into the Ireland squad to provide extra bite with the ball, and even though he took out opener Milinda Siriwardana, he only lasted two overs, giving away an astonishing 28 runs. Nigel Jones and John Mooney were others who needed to keep their economy down, giving away far too many runs for a Twenty20 cricket match.

Trent Johnston and George Dockrell were the best of the bowlers, taking two wickets each and only allowing 4.33 and 5.00 runs per over. Alex Cusack also bowled well, taking two wickets himself, including the menacing Jayasinghe.

It was not Ireland's day however, as a strong all-round performance gave the hosts victory.