Time to bring back Molins
Richard Bullick, News Letter
IT might seem sacreligious to say anything adverse about Adi Birrell in light of that heroic World Cup campaign, but you could argue that his influence is keeping Ireland from fielding its strongest side since his departure.
This week we've had a 13-man squad being named for the final two Friends Provident Trophy fixtures which ludicrously doesn't feature Jason Molins in spite of the absence of several significant top order batsmen including Jeremy Bray, Eoin Morgan, Andre Botha, Niall O'Brien and any overseas player.
Your columnist originally penned this piece midway through the World Cup when South African Birrell, who stepped down at the end of the tournament following a highly successful stint in charge, was reported making more blinkered and revisionist comments in a Sunday newspaper.
His reported comments appear to suggest that former skipper Molins made little contribution to the successful side Ireland now have and my piece suggested that the coach should stop sniping.
The breaking Lawrie Sanchez story meant jettisoning the piece at the time and it also got squeezed out by other matters on a couple of occasions since then but, unfortunately, something still needs to be said.
Sure, big Jason might not be everyone's cup of tea and his general fitness left a lot to be desired but he was a capable, committed captain and brilliant batsman at the top of the order who led the Irish innings effectively from the front.
He contributed handsomely to the famous victories over Surrey, Zimbabwe and West Indies and led the team to World Cup qualification before being axed by Birrell following a lean run with the bat.
Birrell's recent remarks, allied to unfair utterances around the time the World Cup squad was picked, confirm that Jason was never going to feature in the Caribbean.
So was the earlier united front a sham? Why did the coach persist with Molins as captain for so long if he hadn't much respect for him? Why was Jason on the reserve list for the tournament itself if he isn't fit for international cricket?
Anyway, who can claim with much certainty that Molins might not have made more impression at the top of the order in this tournament than young William Porterfield or indeed captained as astutely as Trent Johnston?
The guy has paid the price for his failings and Adi shouldn't be putting the boot in. It's neither helpful nor edifying and serves no useful purpose. Both Birrell and Molins, along with others, have played their part in this golden age for Irish cricket.
The unfortunate knock-on effect is that, with Phil Simmons seemingly more influenced by Birrell than the selectors - two of whom since resigned - at the start of his reign, a new coach didn't mean an immediate clean slate for the former captain.
It is hard to put forward a good cricketing reason as to why Simmons shouldn't select Molins at the top of the Irish order for the Middlesex match in Clontarf this Sunday.
He'd certainly be much more committed to the cause than the non-entity who was brought in as an overseas professional but apparently didn't bother to turn up for the game against Surrey. And about as fit as him too even though a decade older.