A game which saw Ireland keep their T20 World Cup qualification hopes alive as they defended a low total against Bermuda is the favourite game of David Townsend.

DT is the cricket correspondent for the Irish Independent, and a regular commentator on the BBC amongst other outlets. He has been following the fortunes of Irish cricket for 26 years and is currently writing a book on his journey.

It's certain to include to a chapter on his role in a famous declaration which saw Ireland beat Kenya in their first InterContinental Cup triumph back in 2005.

 

MY FAVOURITE GAME: No. 675 Ireland v Bermuda 2008 at Stormont.

The first round of the World T20 qualifiers in Belfast in 2008 consisted of groups of three teams, from which two would qualify for the semi-finals. Ireland beat Scotland on the first day with more in hand than the bare stats of four wickets and one ball to spare would suggest.

Bermuda should not have presented too much of an obstacle either, but the Ireland innings spluttered and when heavy rain fell the scoreboard read 41-4 from eight overs. The match could have been carried over to the next morning or abandoned: one giving Ireland a chance to recover, the other ensuring they would progress as Scotland had already beaten Bermuda.

Instead, the ICC officials at the ground, decided the game would resume and conclude that evening. Phil Simmons greeted the news phlegmatically for someone whose contract as coach may well have been ‘reviewed’ had Ireland failed to qualify.

Waiting to be called in to the committee room to discover just how many overs would be lopped, he told skipper William Porterfield: “We’re going to be shafted, and there’s nothing we can do about it. So we’ll go in there with a smile on our faces, accept the decision and get on with it.”

The committee decided it would be a nine overs per side match. Ireland, possibly in shock, managed only a couple more and shed three wickets in the extra over. Only TWO runs were added for the loss of play, making the D/L calculation 46 to win, which Bermuda would have to get in eight overs to qualify for the semi-finals on run-rate. All 10 wickets available, of course.

It seemed horribly unfair and it wasn’t only the Ireland camp who were complaining. Australian umpire Darrell Hair stormed out of the pavilion, muttering: “These boffins might understand maths, but they don’t understand cricket.”

What followed was the most exhilarating hour I’ve seen, roared on by a big Belfast crowd who for once got right behind their team. What should have been impossible was never in doubt from the first over when Peter Connell struck with his first ball and third.

PC was man-of-the-match for his 3-8 while Kevin O’Brien, Andre Botha and Alex Cusack all bowled superbly on a pitch and conditions ideally suited to their swing and seam.

Adi Birrell, the former Ireland coach who was freelancing with the Scotland team, stood next to me for a couple of overs. “I just don’t see anywhere they score off Botha,” he said, excitedly. Adi’s heart was still green.

The player who caught my eye was wicketkeeper Niall O’Brien: immaculate in his glovework, busy, bright, chirpy and directing everyone and everything. He claimed a stumping off Botha and a run out. It all went through Nobby that evening; he set the tempo and the standard for what I would rate as one of the best five wins of my 26 years following Ireland. Please don’t ask for the other four, I haven’t drawn up a list of contenders.

It was just such a good performance it has to be top five, if not right at the very top. There was a late scare when a six was struck in the crucial eighth over but with nine needed for Bermuda to qualify from three balls, Connell held a catch at deep mid-wicket and Ireland were in the semi-finals on run-rate, even if they lost.

They didn’t lose. Four singles and two dots off the final over meant the Boys in Green had also won the shortened game by four runs on D/L with Bermuda finishing two short of the original 43-7.

Ireland went on to beat Kenya and qualify for the finals held in England in 2009. They shared the trophy with The Netherlands after the final was abandoned without a ball bowled.

Ireland Vs Bermuda
1-Innings T20 Match Played At Stormont, Belfast, 03-Aug-2008, Twenty20 International
Ireland Win by 4 runs

Round 675
Toss won by Ireland
Umpires PK Baldwin (Ger) - S Prasad (Singapore)
Umpire notes Match Referee: BC Broad (England)
Scorer notes EM Power & S Murphy
Home Side Ireland
Player of Match PC Connell
Comment 675/5
- World Cup Qualifier
Ireland 41-4 off 8 overs; Rain reduced their innings to 9 overs.
Bermuda's target was 46 to win in 9 overs.
Ireland win by 4 runs (D/L).
As winners of the group Ireland qualified for the semi finals (World Cup Qualifier)
Points Awarded Ireland 2, Bermuda 0
Match Report here

Ireland 1st Innings 43/7 Closed (Overs 9)

Batsman Fieldsman Bowler Runs Bls 4s 6s
WTS Porterfield* lbw b SKW Kelly 4 10 0 0
NJ O'Brien+ c OL Pitcher b SKW Kelly 5 4 1 0
KJ O'Brien   b GH O'Brien 6 9 1 0
AC Botha   b GH O'Brien 1 3 0 0
GC Wilson st J Edness b IH Romaine 7 11 0 0
AR White retired hurt   5 5 1 0
AR Cusack c OL Pitcher b IH Romaine 5 8 0 0
DT Johnston not out   0 1 0 0
R Strydom run out C Foggo/IH Romaine   1 3 0 0
WK McCallan dnb          
PC Connell dnb          
extras   (b0 lb6 w3 nb0) 9      
TOTAL   7 wickets for 43      
FOW
1-7(NJ O'Brien) 2-16(WTS Porterfield) 3-22(KJ O'Brien) 4-23(AC Botha)
5-41(AR Cusack) 6-41(GC Wilson) 7-43(R Strydom)
Bowler Overs Maid Runs Wkts wd nb
GH O'Brien 4 0 13 2 2 -
SKW Kelly 3 0 18 2 1 -
RDM Leverock 1 0 5 0 - -
IH Romaine 1 0 1 2 - -

Bermuda 1st Innings 41/8 Closed (Overs 9)

Batsman Fieldsman Bowler Runs Bls 4s 6s
C Foggo c sub b PC Connell 0 1 0 0
DL Hemp c NJ O'Brien b PC Connell 0 2 0 0
SD Outerbridge lbw b PC Connell 8 6 1 0
JJ Celestine st NJ O'Brien b AC Botha 7 9 0 0
OL Pitcher run out KJ O'Brien/NJ O'Brien   6 8 0 0
IH Romaine*   b AC Botha 1 8 0 0
J Edness+ run out NJ O'Brien/DT Johnston   4 6 0 0
GH O'Brien c PC Connell b DT Johnston 7 7 0 1
RJ Trott not out   2 4 0 0
SKW Kelly not out   2 3 0 0
RDM Leverock dnb          
extras   (b1 lb0 w3 nb0) 4      
TOTAL   8 wickets for 41      
FOW
1-0(C Foggo) 2-0(DL Hemp) 3-14(SD Outerbridge) 4-21(JJ Celestine) 5-25(IH Romaine)
6-26(OL Pitcher) 7-31(J Edness) 8-37(GH O'Brien)
Bowler Overs Maid Runs Wkts wd nb
PC Connell 2 0 8 3 2 -
KJ O'Brien 2 0 14 0 - -
AC Botha 2 0 4 2 - -
AR Cusack 2 0 5 0 - -
DT Johnston 1 0 9 1 1 -