Ger Siggins (Irish Daily Star)
THE folly of organising a cricket tournament as monsoon season approaches was shown up in Colombo last night.
Ireland splashed out of the ICC World Twenty20 when torrential rain meant their bowlers never got a chance to see whether they could defend 129 against West Indies. And the no result meant both sides' run rates against Australia would decide – and West Indies sneaked through to the next phase by 0.23 runs.
It is the second T20 World Cup from which Ireland have flown home frustrated by rain and wondering what might have been. They again scored below a par target, but in difficult conditions were prepared to fight to reach the Super Eights.
Skipper William Porterfield was bullish after the game, insisting Ireland were in with a chance when the game was abandoned.
"We've seen six months of rain and then we come out here to this..." he said, "it was disappointing not to get a chance to defend the total.
"If we had got a couple of early wickets we have the bowling to take the pace off the ball and it could have been interesting."
Porterfield's nightmare tournament ended with his second first ball dismissal. The Irish captain has been out to the first ball of the innings FIVE times this year in 18 games for Ireland.
While he played a loose shot against Australia, last night he was unlucky to receive an unplayable 140km/h yorker from Fidel Edwards. The West Indies paceman speared the ball at the base of the stumps, and Porterfield didn't get far enough forward to defend his wicket.
It was a cruel way to end the season for a man who two weeks ago tasted glory with English county champions Warwickshire. And it was an even crueller way to end an Irish career for his club and country team-mate Boyd Rankin.
Ireland's talismanic opening bowler had spent the previous 48 hours confined to his hotel room with a nasty bug. And although he travelled to the ground, he looked very poorly and failed a fitness test.
He now retires with 82 caps and 112 wickets to his name; although the door will be open should he fail in his aim of playing for England. After Porterfield was out, Paul Stirling and Ed Joyce regrouped and began to find gaps in the field.
They had taken the score to 33-1 off five overs when the rain arrived. A 55 minute delay destroyed the impetus – and the batsmen's concentration – and both were out within eight balls of the restart.
Joyce tried to sweep Sunil Narine but he missed and the knuckle ball bowled him around his legs. And Stirling was early into a ball from Darren Sammy and hit it up in the air to Chris Gayle.
Niall O'Brien and Gary Wilson took the score to 70 before the Belfast man edged to the keeper. The O'Brien brothers had staged a rally against the Aussies, and again combined well before Niall was bowled trying to cut Gayle.
Kevin, too, was bowled, making room against Ravi Rampaul, but not before he had got the Irish crowd singing with a trademark six.
The West Indies bowling and fielding was so tight that Ireland never hit a four in the last eight overs, although they did hit four deliveries over the rope.
A shower prevented the West Indies from batting, and the longer we waited the heavier the rains became, washing out any hope of play and Ireland's dreams of qualifying.
The locals could clearly teach ICC something about the rain – 33,000 tickets were sold for this 35,000 capacity stadium but fewer than 5,000 turned up.
Porterfield also sympathised with Rankin after the game.
"He was very disappointed – it was sad to see. He was dry-retching in the dressing room but he still wanted to play. He's been fantastic for us and it's disappointing to see him go."