IT WAS only a warm-up game but, ominously for Ireland, it was only the England Lions who hammered them into submission. Next up, it is the world champions.
The Ireland batting, apart from a late order wobble, can be satisfied with their efforts in the Ageas Bowl, Southampton yesterday but the bowlers got a taste of what they can expect in the first of three one-day internationals between the teams as the Lions reached their target of 297 with more than 15 overs to spare!
It could hardly be called a Lions side when World Cup winning captain Eoin Morgan led the team and sauntered to the middle at No 4, but Jonny Bairstow, Adil Rashid, Moeen Ali and Joe Denly were all missing and seem certain to come in for the serious action on Thursday.
The Lions lost only three wickets but used eight batsmen, three of them retiring, including Morgan after a brief cameo of 22 from 20 balls, including three successive fours off Andy McBrine.
The coach’s fears over the fitness of Mark Adair and Paul Stirling proved unfounded and both played a full part – Adair bowling more than anyone and looking apparently untroubled in his eight overs, at least fitness-wise. He conceded 74 runs but that was still more economical than his surprise opening partner Josh Little and Boyd Rankin.
Although both teams named 12, there was still no place in the Ireland line-up for Barry McCarthy and Craig Young who both played in the team’s last ODI, against West Indies in January, and Gary Wilson was also omitted with Lorcan Tucker the man in possession with the wicket-keeping gloves in 50-over cricket. His 26 from 24 balls will probably be enough to retain his place on Thursday.
Little offers variation with his left arm pace but whether it is enough to earn him his fifth ODI cap must be doubtful.
Adair and Ireland enjoyed the perfect start to the Lions innings with World Cup winner Jason Roy caught behind off the first ball but that was to be the last success for 27 overs. Amid the mayhem, which saw Sussex’s Phil Salt and James Vince thrash 68 from the first seven overs, Rankin started with a maiden but then conceded 32 off his next two overs as the Lions’ 100 came up in the 11th over.
Fifteen of the 35 overs cost 10 runs or more, including a 19 and two 17s, and in all the English batsmen hit 43 boundaries, although only four of them cleared the fence.
The slow-bowling trio of Andy McBrine, Simi Singh and Gareth Delany bowled 15 overs which cost, on the day, a respectable 105 and it seems certain they will get another chance against the big hitters on Thursday.
Ireland scored only 31 boundaries in their 50 overs but outhit England with Stirling, Harry Tector and Kevin O’Brien each hitting three sixes. Unfortunately they couldn’t keep their wickets intact long enough for a century partnership with the stand of 92 for the second wicket between Stirling and Andrew Balbirnie the best.
Both looked in good touch, Stirling bringing up his half century in 48 balls with four fours and six and the skipper following him to the landmark with six fours from 57 balls.
Arguably the most impressive innings came from Harry Tector who will deservedly make his ODI debut at No 5.
His 55 came from 49 balls and only Kevin O’Brien scored faster, with his 28 using up only 14 deliveries.
O'Brien's dismissal was the first of three wickets in seven balls but McBrine and Little both found the boundary in the last three overs although Ireland still fell short of the 300 total which was well in sight at 210-3 in the 39th over.