While it’s time to dust off your winter coat and pack away the bat & pads here in Ireland, it’s still summer somewhere, and the truly beautiful game continues as normal. So pop the kettle on, make yourself a sandwich and queue up Soul Limbo by Booker T & the MGs on Spotify, it’s time for your world cricket report.
The ongoing long-term development of the Irish national side continues in 2016, with matches against top Test teams in Australia & South Africa abroad, and Sri Lanka & Pakistan at home, with the former being the most recent ties. Cricket Ireland’s campaign to become a Test-playing nation could have been buoyed with wins against any of the aforementioned teams, however it was not to be. The young Irish squad, robbed of veteran Ed Joyce through a knee injury, was given valuable experience on the world stage in the first game against South Africa. South Africa, preparing for a tour from visiting Aussies, fielded three debutants against the ‘Boys in Green’. This was certainly a gamble, but one that paid off, as batsman Temba Bavuma became only the second South African to score a century on his ODI debut. South Africa posted a dominant score of 354 for 5 against the middling Irish pace. Ireland could only manage 148 in reply, with Kevin O’Brien getting a top score of 41. He did much better than his brother Niall, who missed the game with a head injury suffered when he fell in the bathroom prior to the game.
Ireland didn’t fare much better against an Australia A team fielding second string players, again falling foul to proper pace bowling. Ireland batted first this time, posting a score of 198 all-out. It looked like Australia were going to clean-sweep the Irish lads, with Middlesex’s Tim Murtagh getting David Warner out caught & bowled for 48.
Questions must be asked of the Irish team at the end of their 2016 season, as other associate nations seem to be eclipsing their successes in the shorter forms of the game, and we must really ask: is Test cricket worth it?
While Australia are enjoying continued success under captain Steve Smith (including the complete dismantling of Ireland in South Africa), not all is well Down Under. The Australian team has always revolved around its fast bowlers, and the revered brotherhood that is the informal group: the Fast Bowlers’ Union (FBU). The Fast Bowlers’ Union is, as its name suggests, a group for the specialist fast bowlers in the Aussie national line-up who can clock up over 87mph on the speed-gun. The current Chairman of the FBU, Mitchell Starc, is currently sidelined with a knee injury, and all-rounder Mitch Marsh had claimed the role of interim-Chair for the tour of South Africa, despite being excluded from the Union during the last Ashes series.
Marsh claimed to have called Starc to get his blessing for the role, though no one seems to have informed Starc of this phone-call. Speaking on Cricket.com.au’s ‘Unplayable Podcast’, Starc said “I hope [Marsh] is listening, because I’m still waiting for that phone call. He said he’d called me to discuss this and that’s a blatant lie.” It’s unknown how this has been received in the Aussie camp in South Africa, but it certainly won’t help Marsh, who many already see as an outsider in the squad.
The Australia-South Africa ODI series continues on Wednesday October 5th, Sunday October 9th and Wednesday October 12th.
The singing of Jerusalem seems to precede English joy more & more these days, as England have capped off a decent summer with a tied Test series with world number one Pakistan and a 4-1 ODI series win against the same opposition. And with only two five-day games & a limited-overs series against Test juniors Bangladesh on the horizon, their luck shows no signs of running out. The tour of Bangladesh isn’t without controversy, as limited-overs Captain Eoin Morgan and star Alex Hales decided not to tour following security concerns. These concerns stem from the July 2016 terror attacks in Dhaka, and their decision to pull-out was made despite claims from both the Bangladeshi government & the ECB (England & Wales Cricket Board) that there was no risk to their security on the tour. Former Irish international Morgan has had an interesting tenure as ‘Captain Morgan,’ most recently featuring both personal & team success. Hales, previously hailed as the future of English cricket, had finally seemed to fully reach his potential against Pakistan, helping his team to break the ODI record for highest team total.
While Morgan is replaced as captain by Jos Buttler for the tour of Bangladesh, he is expected to return as captain on a tour of India in November. While the players have said they take no issue with Morgan’s withdrawal, the English set-up and fans are notoriously unforgiving to Irish-born players, with Ed Joyce & Boyd Rankin having less-than-stellar English careers.
Test: 1. Pakistan, 2. India, 3. Australia, 4. England, 5. South Africa, 6. Sri Lanka, 7. New Zealand,
- West Indies, 9. Bangladesh, 10. Zimbabwe.
ODI: 1. Australia, 2. New Zealand, 3. South Africa, 4. India, 5. England, 6. Sri Lanka,
- Bangladesh, 8. West Indies, 9. Pakistan, 10. Afghanistan, 11. Zimbabwe, 12. Ireland.
T20: 1. New Zealand, 2. India, 3. South Africa, 4. West Indies, 5. Australia, 6. England,
- Pakistan, 8. Sri Lanka, 9. Afghanistan, 10. Bangladesh, 11. Netherlands, 12. Zimbabwe,
- Scotland, 14. UAE, 15. Ireland, 16. Oman, 17. Hong Kong.
Womens: 1. Australia, 2. England, 3. New Zealand, 4. India, 5. West Indies, 6. South Africa,
- Pakistan, 8. Sri Lanka, 9. Bangladesh, 10. Ireland.