Saturday May 6, 2006
The tour ended then as it had begun, with a loss to the UAE. This time though, it was a vastly improved display, with 3 dropped catches proving to be Irelandís downfall.
All the bowlers performed well in the extreme conditions, with Gary Kidd playing exceptionally well. He picked up 3 wickets and had 2 catches dropped off his bowling, which ultimately cost him the MOM award, and the $2600 which goes along with it.
Ireland allowed the run rate to increase too steeply, and the tail were left with too much to do. Kenny Carroll impressed, and if he hadnít been caught right on the long on boundary, then Ireland might have sneaked it.
Coach Matt Dwyer felt that the concession of extras were crucial, and he wants to see bowlers having an increased workload in domestic cricket. His view that the bowlers arenít getting enough overs under their belt may have some weight.
With the game going on till nearly 11 at night, there wasnít much time for a post match drink, but the players enjoyed their last few hours of captivity on Alcatraz island.
The squad have been nothing short of remarkable for their patience and understanding , in at times very difficult and trying conditions. Their fitness levels and fielding were comparable to any of the nations on view. Some of the players' techniques have been found wanting, and a lot of hard work is needed if they are to be successful at the higher grade.
Some of the squad have risen to the challenge, with William Porterfield, John Mooney, Gary Kidd and Gary Wilson all now very much part of Adrian Birrellís plans.
There are opportunities for others to join them, particularly in the seam bowling department. The trick will be to convert the promise shown into real achievements.
Thereís no doubt that this tour has been a valuable resource for all involved. The worldwide media exposure has brought Irish cricket to the attention of the Asian viewing public, and it has given the players a chance to show what they can do.
Iíll sign off now by personally thanking all the squad for their help, with a special mention for Matt, Ivan and Gillian for putting up with my rants about life without the internet and alcohol.