The bowlers came to the party as Ireland, at the third attempt, finally won in the West Indies. They beat Jamaica by three runs in the first Twenty20 match of the Jamaica Cricket Festival at the Trelawny Stadium to set them up for Sunday afternoon"s game against the West Indies on the same ground. The venue for the 2007 World Cup opening ceremony is one of the slower pitches in the Caribbean and runs were always hard to come by but Ireland's 124 - or even 127 - was still very much below par.
Despite six batsmen reaching double figures, Paul Stirling, opening with Niall O'Brien as the captain, William Porterfield dropped to No 5, was top score with 18. The two Jamaica slow bowlers took two for 41 in their eight overs while former Killymallaght pro Danza Hyatt was the best of the rest with two for 19 with gentle medium-pacers. Ireland's Gary Kidd, however, bettered both his Jamaica counterparts with his first T20 wickets and figures of two for 13 and backed up by Andre Botha (2-19) and Trent Johnston (2-22), Jamaica needed approximately 14 off the last over but Connell (2-34) conceded only 10 even with a fourth ball six.
The "approximate' totals were unfortunate but there really should be no excuse at this level. Yes, scorers may have difficulty telling apart certain batsmen they have never seen before but it was the last ball of the 13th over before Ireland had two right handers together and still the individual scores were wrong. In the end the scorers managed to give Ireland three runs more than they should have and Jamaica two runs less so the game was never as exciting as it should have been. The scoreboard had an eight runs difference between the teams at the end.
The Twenty20 atmosphere has been created with music greeting boundaries, at the fall of wickets and even between overs but for 40 overs yesterday we had an announcer who thought he was more important than the cricket and while the sponsors always deserve a mention, they do not expect to hear their name during the bowler's run-up or, on more than one occasion in this match, while the ball was between bowler and batsman. His only excuse was that he couldn't see the action but it was certainly a non-stop distraction to those who could.
None of the batsmen spent any length of time in the middle to enjoy any sort of form. Porterfield faced 22 balls, more than anyone else in the match, but failed to find the boundary in making 14 runs and probably underlined just how difficult it was to score freely. His 31 runs partnership with room-mate Gary Wilson was the highest of the day but even that took six overs and in the end Ireland were grateful for a misfield at long-off which brought Mooney his first boundary and a well timed six which brought his second in the 19th over, both off off spinner Bevon Brown, which accounted for 10 of his 26 runs.
The batsmen also found it difficult to get away his leg spinning namesake Odean and too often the ball is still going to the fielders rather than into the gaps. Kidd, though was the most impressive spinner of the day, finding his line and length early and he did not concede a single boundary in his four overs.
And as long as Johnston, Botha and Cusack have a helpful pitch then Ireland will always be in the game and it will be a case, hopefully of more of the same from the bowlers and an improvement from the batsmen when Ireland play West Indies in their second T20 match today.
Editor Note: As noted above there was confusion over the correct match scores and details on the match day. The local scorers record appeared to have many errors which could not be resolved.
The summary scores above and main scorecard were derived from the live match coverage and a review of the video record of the match and are considered to be an accurate record of the match.