Against the odds Ireland completed an historic series victory over the West Indies in Sabina park and came away with crucial points for World Cup qualification.
This wasn’t meant to be. But it happened.
It almost didn’t. Right at the end when Ireland nearly collapsed their way out of the contest. Then Craig Young hit the winning runs. Murder she wrote, Jeffery Dujon might say on commentary.
Things are tough going for the Ireland men’s team.
They were knocked out at the earliest point of the World T20 last October. Their coach left. USA beat them on a Christmas tour that never got finished. A bunch of the squad got covid including interim coach David Ripley, captain Andrew Balbirnie, Lorcan Tucker, Simi Singh and Ben White. And there’s an inquiry still taking place after Ireland’s early exit from last year’s tournament.
Anything else? Things were taking on Stephen Kenny levels of bad luck.
Would there be enough players to complete the scheduled fixtures in Sabina Park, Jamaica? The second of the three match series was postponed in an attempt to complete the series.
Did Ireland have anything left to give?
Andy McBrine is a very impressive ODI cricketer – 10 wickets at 11.60 in the West Indies, including getting Kieron Pollard cheaply twice, plus some v useful runs.— Tim Wigmore (@timwig) January 16, 2022
He's also an unusual off spinner – a better average to right-handers than lefties.
Andy McBrine just keeps on getting better. He finished as player of the series after two match awards. His off spin is turning heads, and his batting is starting to live to its potential.
McBrine’s returns with the bat later in the series were even more remarkable considering he sustained concussion in a tight first game which Ireland lost by 24 runs.
Harry Tector also shone bright. With scores of 53, 54*, 52, and completing seven 50’s in his previous ten games, he could be demanding a spot in the T20 side.
Harry Tector’s last 10 ODIs (updated)— Cricket Ireland (@cricketireland) January 16, 2022
▪️58 v Netherlands
▪️25 v South Africa
▪️79 v South Africa
▪️29 v South Africa
▪️50 v Zimbabwe
▪️55 v Zimbabwe
▪️13* v Zimbabwe
▪️53 v West Indies
▪️54* v West Indies
▪️52 v West Indies#GoHarry ☘️🏏 pic.twitter.com/IuzMP1u14v
Under Paul Stirling’s captaincy, Ireland came back with wins in the second and third games. Would he be better at the helm than Balbirnie who followed the game from isolation? That would be a harsh decision.
Stirling showed an expert poker face as Young dropped an extremely easy catch off the captain’s bowling. He also led them to this incredible performance. But this was an exceptional performance from an exceptional group.
It’s possible this set of Irish players are much better at 50 over cricket than T20. Despite losing the first, they outplayed the young West Indies side with bat, ball and in the field throughout the series.
That win today means that @cricketireland move into third place in the #odisuperleague.— justin smyth (@justinsmyth1) January 16, 2022
Two more series to go at home. World cup qualification is still in our hands. #WIvIRE pic.twitter.com/78ksSVrcSB
This is now Ireland’s biggest scalp. Their previous biggest series wins were against Zimbabwe and Afghanistan.
Almost 15 years ago at the very same ground Ireland completed a shock win over Pakistan in the world cup that opened up a door for so much more for Irish cricket. Everything changed that St Patrick’s Day in 2007.
Now they have something completely different. A series win, away from home. Consistently outplaying a side ranked much higher over a series of games. Not a one off.
They also walk away with vital points for the Super League, a table which will decide qualification for the 2023 World Cup. And they showed the brilliance of the qualifying format which will soon be removed from the calendar.
Ireland’s series victory over the West Indies was many many things. It almost didn’t happen. Maybe it wasn’t meant to happen. But it definitely did.