IRELAND’S next action is a Twenty20 series in March against Afghanistan in India, where they have lost all six games in the shortest format, so a nine wickets hammering was not the way they wanted to end their Caribbean tour.
All the positives from the bowling displays in the three one-day internationals and, even the first T20 game, were forgotten as West Indies levelled the series, chasing down their target of 140 in just 11 overs, in effect 10 because Paul Stirling conceded a solitary single in the first over.
He didn’t return to the attack and having seen the West Indies bowlers take wickets with pace off the ball and cutters from Kieron Pollard, who added three wickets to the four he took the first match – earning him the man of the series award – Ireland’s bowlers went short and fast and they were lashed to all parts of the small St Kitts ground.
Andrew Balbirnie even gave Lendl Simmons a ‘life’ on 23 when he put down a straightforward catch at long-off; Simmons finished 91 not out, which included 10 sixes and five fours.
At the other end, Even Lewis, seeing much less of the strike, was content with four fours and three sixes in his 46 before, trying to bring up his 50 and finish the match with the same stroke, only got a top edge to Simi Singh and Gary Wilson held the catch.
Wilson was also part of a mid-innings brain freeze when Ireland, batting for the sixth time out of six on tour after Pollard won the toss, lost two wickets in three balls to leave them 94-6. The deposed T20 captain ramped his first ball from Romario Shepherd straight to backward point and then his successor came back for a non-existent second run and was run out by a direct hit from third man.
The seventh wicket, which ended all hopes of a respectable total, was shrouded in controversy because although Mark Adair was just short of his ground after a direct hit, there was no appeal from the West Indies, so there was no need for the umpire to make a decision. However, after television replays showed the incident, Pollard was, against all ethics, allowed to ask for a review and the third umpire had no option but to give him out. No wonder, Adair was raging.
The high point for Ireland was Kevin O’Brien hitting five successive fours off Sheldon Cottrell in the third over which finished with the total on 48-0!
It was then all downhill, but as Balbirnie, rightly, said afterwards, with Gareth Delany and Harry Tector getting their first taste of big match cricket, the future looks bright.