DateThursday 15th March 2007
VenueSabina Park, Jamaica.
ResultMatch tied.
TypeWorld Cup - Section D. Match 1
Report 2007 World Cup

Ireland's dream was fulfilled when the 15 man party arrived in the West Indies to participate, for the first time ever, in Cricket's World Cup, 32 years after the first ever World Cup took place in England in 1975.

The Irish party was the same party as had competed in the World Cricket League in Nairobi. The results had been disappointing but the players and coach Adrian Birrell maintained that things were better than the results might indicate. While Ireland had lost 4 of the 5 matches played, they were all very close and not much would have been needed for the results column to have shown 5 wins out of 5.

The party there was was as follows:-

DT Johnston (Captain); AC Botha; JPBray; KED Carroll; PG Gillespie; D Langford-Smith; WK McCallan; JF Mooney; PJK Mooney; EJG Morgan; KJ O'Brien; NJ O'Brien; WTS Porterfield; WB Rankin; AR White.

Ireland had two warm up matches before the competition proper begins. Both these warm up matches involved squads of 13 players, 11 to bat and field, and were non-cap games. Kenny Carroll and Peter Gillespie were not involved in the South African game and Kevin O'Brien and William Porterfield in the Canada game.

5th March 2007. Ireland lost to South Africa by 35 runs at Sir Frank Worrell Stadium, Trinidad.

The result shows a loss but that tells little of the real story. South Africa had just taken over from Australia as No 1 ranked country in Limited Overs cricket. They batted first and suddenly found themselves 66-7 and 91-8 against Ireland. At number 9, however, they had Andrew Hall, a fine all rounder, and he and Robin Petersen added 85 for the ninth wicket to enable South Africa finally to total 192.

Still Ireland were not daunted and they reached 139-4, needing 54 to win from 11 overs before finally the wheels came off and Hall and Charl Langeveldt saw Ireland all out for 157 to lose by 35 runs. It attracted much attention to the Ireland team, and the question now was could they cause an upset in the competition proper.

First, however, there was a second warm up match, this time against Canada, the team who had successfully chased 309 against Ireland in Nairobi.

8th March, 2007. Ireland beat Canada by 7 wickets at Sir Frank Worrell Stadium, Tribnidad.

Ireland made no mistake this time and comprehensively beat Canada. Ireland won the toss and inserted Canada. Again the bowlers got amoung the wickets but this time they allowed no escape, and bowled Canada out for 115 in 32.5 overs. Best bowling came from Dave Langford-Smith 4-41 and Kyle McCallan who, in just five balls, took 2-0. Because Ireland had bowled Canada out with almost 17 overs left, in fact the Irish innings commenced before the lunch interval and there were 9 overs to be bowled before lunch. At that point Ireland, despite the early loss of Kenny Carroll, were 36-1. There was no way back for Canada and Ireland eventually came home in 26.5 overs, with Jeremy Bray 41* and Andre Botha 22*.

Ireland v Zimbabwe at Sabina Park, Jamaica.

Ireland were in Section D for the Preliminary Round, together with Zimbabwe, Pakistan and West Indies. The top two would qualify for the Super 8's, with the winner of the match between the two who finally qualified taking the points from that match into the Super 8 round.

Ireland's first match was against Zimbabwe and a pulsating match resulted in only the third tie in World Cup history, and the first ever tie in a match involving Ireland. Least wickets lost did not apply in this section and therefore each side took 1 point.

This was the fifth match between Ireland and Zimbabwe. Of the previous 4, Zimbabwe won 3 and Ireland one. The one Irish win came in Stormont in 2003 when Ireland dismissed Zimbabwe for 182 and won by 10 wickets. Of the two teams 5 of the Irish team, Bray, Botha, Niall O'Brien, McCallan and White played in this match and 2 of the Zimbabwe team, Matsikenyeri and Brent, played today. Two other survivors from that win were in the Irish panel for the World Cup though they did not play today, Gillespie and Paul Mooney.

Report by the Ian Callender in the Daily Mail of 16th March 2007.

There is literally nothing between a weak Test nation and the leading Associate. That much was proven last night after an unbelievable finish with Ireland and Zimbabwe producing only the third tie in World Cup history at Sabina Park.

Jeremy Bray's undefeated century was a memorable highlight for the new boys and only his teammates failure to stay with him for any length of time cost Ireland a chance of marking their debut with a historic victory. The total of 221-9, (Ireland have never failed to reach 200 and has still to be bowled out in an ODI), was respectable enough, after losing the toss and being asked to bat on a greenish wicket with early moisture but unless Ireland made early inroads into the Zimbabwe batting it should not have been a defendable total. However, Andrew White, entrusted with the last over when Zimbabwe, with their last pair at the wicket, needed nine to win, restricted them to eight and sparked delirious scenes at the finish. Who says only winning matters!

Ireland pride themselves on their fielding but in a nervous first few overs Kyle McCallan let a ball slip through his legs and over the boundary and Andrew White also fumbled before a remarkable over by Derbyshire's Boyd Rankin. The first ball was edged by Terence Duffin to Niall O'Brien's left. Although the keeper had to dive to reach the ball his gloves made contact but he, somehow, failed to hold on. Two deliveries later, Duffin flashed straight to Eoin Morgan at second slip and the Middlesex man not only spilled that but failed to pick up what looked like a straightforward rebound. Still there was time for Rankin to get the wicket he deserved. Another away swinger, another edge and this time O'Brien didn't miss. That made it 26-1 after six overs. David Langford-Smith, so impressive in last week's warmup games, again bowled well but without luck and Rankin's wicket-taking over was to prove his best. His next over went for 14 and when seven more came off his fifth over, Andre Botha replaced him at the Pavilion end. Botha was his usual accurate self but the wickets that were needed were not forthcoming and when Trent Johnston drew a blank in his first three overs, the writing was on the wall for Ireland.

This team, however, are made of sterner stuff these days and when the captain had Chibhabha caught at mid-off and McCallan, doing what he does best, had the dangerous Sean Williams caught at mid-on, Zimbabwe were suddenly 107-3. It should have been 107-4 two balls later because McCallan fumbled a return from Johnstone with Stuart Matsikenyeri, yet to face, out of his ground. It was to prove the most costly of too many fielding lapses. Zimbabwe's most experienced player finished 73 not out. The only thing he didn't do was hit the winning run.

There was no disgrace in the Ireland batting and, indeed, Bray's bat produced an innings which will be better than many centuries in this tournament. His patience while wickets fell around him, at one stage Ireland were 89-5, was supreme and, knowing he had to stay there, was content to pick up 18 successive singles after reaching his 50 from 64 balls with five fours and two sixes, the first six in only the fifth over, flat-batted through point and the second, eight overs later, sliced over the slips. Andrew White, preferred to John Mooney for the final place in the starting team, was sent in at number seven and remained with Bray for 16 overs. They added only 56 runs, White scoring exactly half, against tidy spin bowling but it gave Ireland breathing space to launch a late onslaught. Although White carelessly swung across the line, Johnston was the perfect batsmen to take the attack to the Zimbabweans and after 20 from 24 balls was ready to move up a gear. Then, confusion between the batsmen, led to Johnston being sent back and the captain was 2 yards short when the bails came off.

His dismissal was probably the difference between a total of 220 and a total of 250 and he was just the latest batsmen to get set and then, disappointingly, get out. There was no blame attached to William Porterfield who failed to survive the first over, nervously edging the last ball to the keeper, but Eoin Morgan had just hit four boundaries when he flashed at a wide one and was caught at slip. Both Niall O'Brien and Andre Botha, bowled offering no stroke, were out early and by that stage Bray knew the rest of the innings was up to him. He did not disappoint but, after losing Kyle McCallan when he was still nine short of his century, the opening batsman was still hugely grateful to his fellow Australian Dave Langford-Smith. The pace man not only saw Bray to his second ODI century, off 129 balls with 10 fours and two sixes, but then scored 15 himself at almost a run a ball to ensure Ireland scored 20 off the final two overs.

It was enough to avoid defeat but not to achieve the most famous of victories.

Report by the Richard Gillis of the Irish Times on March 16, 2007

Unbelievable. There is no other way to put it. Ireland's cricketers came back from the dead to tie their first ever World Cup game, at Sabina Park in Jamaica. At no stage during the 100 overs were Ireland in the game. But the teams never-say-die spirit set up one of the great finishes in this tournament's 32 years history.

Saved from certain loss by a brilliant undefeated century by the Man-of-the-Match Jeremy Bray earlier in the day, Ireland hustled Zimbabwe to a result unlikely with even two overs to go. The final scenes of the day were of joy unconfined as the players, backroom staff and the thousand travelling supporters ran amok in the Kingston sun.

The start of the day went perfectly to plan. Win the toss, insert the opposition, exploit early cloud cover to strike early and remove the top order. The bad news is that was Zimbabwe not Ireland who carried it out to the letter. On a pitch showing more grass than Tuesday's West Indies and Pakistan clash, the first four Irish wickets fell in the first hour. At 9:25 a.m. Jamaica time opening batsman Jeremy Bray and William Porterfield walked out from beneath the giant North Stand to begin Ireland's first World Cup fixture. The thousand or so Irish supporters who had made the journey gave them a rousing welcome before the pair stood ready for a few nervous minutes before play began. 22 year old Porterfield from the Rush club faced up to the first ball, delivered by Mpofu, Zimbabwe's tall, rangy medium pace opening bowler. A few moments later the Irish man was walking back, caught behind off a lifting delivery without scoring. It was left to Bray to score Ireland's first runs, a push past cover-points left hand for two.

There followed a brief period of consolidation as Eoin Morgan joined Bray in a stand of 42 in just over nine overs. Morgan showed a glimpse of his class with a sumptuous extra cover drive before he too was out caught at slip following a ball rising on off stump. The Zimbabwean opening attack bowled a tidy line to the left-handed top five, using the conditions to extract movement off the pitch. Niall O'Brien and Andre Botha came and went in quick succession as blip turned to slump. O'Brien, recently moved from Kent to Northants, fended outside off stump and was caught by the wicket-keeper, while Botha had a disastrous lapse of judgement. The South African born batsman, a prolific run scorer in Ireland's colours, shouldered arms to leave a ball from Chigumbura, only to watch helplessly as it took his off stump. At 63-4 Ireland faced ignominy. That they made 221 off their allotted 50 overs is entirely down to Bray, whose 115 off 137 balls will stand as one of the innings of this World Cup.

Fighting a sluggish pitch and muggy, cloudy conditions, Bray timed the ball with certainty building momentum as he went. He is an imposing figure at the crease, standing over 6 feet tall with a build owing much to his day job as a fitness instructor. Like the best Australian batters he is comfortable playing square of the wicket off the back foot. Two blistering square cuts cleared the boundary rope for six, added to his tally of 10 fours. His hundred came in 129 balls and was met by a rousing reception from the team's followers, by now decamped in the shade of the giant electronic scoreboard or scattered across the George Headley Stand to the south of the ground. Bray raised both hands in celebration, his bat held aloft to acknowledge the applause. He deserved every plaudit.

A total of 221 off their allotted 50 overs was perhaps 30 short of par. But Ireland were encouraged by a hostile opening spell by Boyd Rankin, the 6'8" fast medium bowler who is seeking a county career with Derbyshire. In one extraordinary over Rankin had Terence Duffin twice dropped behind the wicket, by keeper O'Brien and Morgan at second slip, before O'Brien made amends, holding on to a third chance off the last ball of the over. Rankin was supported at the George Headley End, David Langford-Smith bustled in, moving the ball towards the slips, aided by a slight crosswind. The early part of the Zimbabwean innings was dominated by 23-year-old Vusi Sibanda, born and brought up in the black Harare township of Highfield. His 67 was full of strokes that belied a career average in the 20s.

Zimbabwe were cruising at above an asking rate that never rose above five an over with wickets in hand, a priceless commodity. Offspinner McCallan built pressure from the North Stand End on a pitch turned brown in the afternoon sun. Sibanda fell to Andrew White's off spin and was quickly followed by Chigumbura and Williams. For all their efforts, the blade of Stuart Matsikenyeri seemed too broad, and his innings of 73 seemed certain to see Zimbabwe home. But, as wickets fell at the other end, incoming batsmen found panic setting in. Two wickets fell in the penultimate over bowled by Kevin O'Brien. Suddenly Zimbabwe needed nine to win off the final over with one wicket in hand. An incredible turnaround. Andrew White's tension-filled last over was a blur of misfields, dropped catches and panic, culminating in Mpofu's run out off the final ball. Cue scenes of delirium.

Derek Scott, Ian Callender and Richard Gillis.

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