pakistan

Bad weather derails Ireland Test debut against Pakistan

Disappointment at a wet and windy Malahide ground in Dublin

AFP
17:42 May 11, 2018

Dublin: When you have waited nearly 300 years to play your first Test match, a few more hours’ delay may not seem that significant.

Yet there was no denying the disappointment at a wet and windy Malahide ground in Dublin as rain delayed the scheduled 11am start of Ireland’s inaugural Test.

As ground staff did their best to dry out the square and outfield ahead of the one-off match against Pakistan, a few hardy spectators at a ground where temporary stands had increased the capacity to 6,000 did their best to seek shelter.

The grey skies added to the sense of anticlimax but there was also a sense it would take a lot more than some bad weather to dampen the enthusiasm and pride felt by so many within Irish cricket as their side stood on the brink of becoming just the 11th nation to play Test cricket.

That this match had captured the attention of an Irish public used to Gaelic sports, racing and rugby holding sway, could be seen from the fact that a preview of the match was the main item on Thursday’s evening television news bulletin on RTE, Ireland’s national state broadcaster.

It was all a far cry from the time when Ed Joyce, arguably the country’s greatest batsman and set to play in this match, was physically attacked as a boy just for carrying a cricket bat.

Yet while many Irish sports fans are starting to get acquainted with cricket, the sport has deep roots in the “Emerald Isle”.

There are records of cricket being played in Ireland as early as 1731.

But the sport’s reputation suffered from being seen as the creation of English “colonisers”.

Ireland first made the rest of the cricket world sit up and take notice when they skittled out the touring West Indies, reputed to have enjoyed some typically generous Irish hospitality the night before, for just 25 on their way to a win at Sion Mills in 1969.

They made an even bigger global splash when they knocked Pakistan out of the 2007 one-day international World Cup tournament with a stunning St Patrick’s Day win at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica.

But the joy in defeating Pakistan — as well as Bangladesh — in 2007 was eclipsed four years later, when England were beaten in a World Cup match in Bengaluru.

That success redoubled Irish ambitions to play five-day Test cricket, still regarded as the sport’s supreme format.

If conditions in Malahide remain cold and overcast they could yet favour Ireland, although neither side will relish batting first under cloudy skies.

“We’ve always got a chance, it’s sport,” said Ireland captain William Porterfield on Thursday.

“Are we favourites? No. But we’ve as much chance as anyone if we do the basics right, in our own conditions we will give ourselves a very good chance,” he added.