Mulder impresses as Ireland disappoint
Ian Callender (Sunday Life)
Jacob Mulder continues to impress in an Ireland shirt with the CIYMS leg spinner, in only his second international, the star performer in the five wickets defeat to Afghanistan.
Coming from the depths of a British Isles winter, with only one warm-up match before taking on the favourites for the inaugural Desert T20 tournament was always going to be a difficult ask but the bowlers stuck to their task, defending a virtually impossible 125, to earn the praise of their skipper, William Porterfield.
He said: “We knew we had to bowl well and the way we went about it was the most pleasing thing about the performance. We were probably only 12 dot balls away from a winning total and if we can minimise that on Tuesday (in our next game) against Namibia we will be in a good place.
“Having watched the first match (when Scotland beat Hong Kong by 24 runs) we knew there wouldn’t be a lot of bounce, so we picked all three spinners. Jacob bowled fantastically well, as did George Dockrell, and Andy McBrine came back well after I asked him to open the bowling in the powerplay.”
Combined figures for the trio of four for 54 from 10 overs justified the call to leave Barry McCarthy waiting for his T20 international debut, in preference to Josh Little, the 17-year-old who was not afraid to bowl the bouncer on a slow pitch. Indeed, he matched the experienced Boyd Rankin’s figures from just two balls less.
The batting, though, continues to be Ireland’s weakness in the shortest format. It was their Achilles Heel last year when they lost all but three of their nine T20 games and yesterday’s total confirmed it was the same old story, albeit against a much stronger bowling attack than they faced in 2016.
A top individual score of 25 is not going to win many games, yet only Greg Thompson of the dismissed batsmen failed to reach double figures.
Their one excuse yesterday was that two of the three players who have enjoyed the heat this winter, playing cricket in Australia, were injured in practice and have been ruled out of the tournament. Eglinton’s Stuart Thompson, after his performance anxiety problems last year, went over on his ankle and Andrew Balbirnie, following his hip surgery, has a glute strain.
Stuart Poynter, who arrived here only 17 hours before the game, came in as a direct swap for Thompson at the top of the order and Lorcan Tucker joined the party last night.