My first memory of cricket on tv was in the mid-70s with Hampshire playing in a one-day match. They were at the time my favourite county because their opening batsman Barry Richards had the same first name. He opened the batting with Gordon Greenidge, and my word, what a formidable prospect it must have been for county bowlers trying to keep those two in check.

Although Richards initially piqued my interest, it was Hampshire’s fast bowler Andy Roberts that really captured my imagination. Quietly menacing, he had an excellent bouncer that batters found difficult to pick up and in the days before helmets had an impressive strike rate (literally), which included knocking out four of Ian Botham’s teeth and putting Colin Cowdrey in hospital.

He was an integral part of the famed West Indian pace bowling quartet that dominated Test cricket for 10 to 15 years. Clive Lloyd as captain had the not too onerous task of deciding which of the 90mph speedsters he would throw the ball to.

Roberts for a while spearheaded a production line of talent that included Michael Holding, Joel Garner, and Colin Croft. Mike Selvey tweeted last week about the net bowlers who turned up at a session in Barbados. These were Malcolm Marshall, Sylvester Clarke, Ezra Moseley and Wayne Daniel. Not a bad foursome to have in reserve!

What Phil Simmons would give for this quartet now?

I mention all this after watching the first ODI between West Indies and Ireland from Sabina Park. I was critical of the quality of the current Ireland squad in my last column. For most of this game they looked and indeed should have shoved those words down my gob! I wouldn’t have been more delighted if they had.

At 165 for 1, Andy Balbirnie and Harry Tector looked in complete control and the game looked a foregone conclusion. I had a match report written in my head. Would it be too much begrudgery to describe this West Indian ‘attack’ as the worst in living memory?

Should I instead concentrate on praising the Irish effort which for most of the match was excellent considering the off the field happenings with various covid outbreaks, cancelled matches, support staff comings and goings?

I am a born pessimist. Part of it is being born in Northern Ireland. The other is a lifetime playing for Ardmore who are the specialists in collapses. There have been some really spectacular ones over the years. 17 in a cup final in 1998 the most painful.

The only time I can remember feeling truly confident about a chase was against the West Indies in Nelson during the 2015 World Cup. We chased 304 to win by four wickets – it was actually more comfortable than even that suggests. A superb, positive batting display. There was no jumping around celebrations similar to previous World Cup wins. This one wasn’t seen as a shock inside the set-up. Few pats on the back, firm handshakes. Job done, but more to do. I was a little underwhelmed as I had wanted a few going bonkers photos, but none to be had. Thumbs up and a few smiles.

The biggest laugh I got that night was back at the hotel bar and Roy Torrens ordered a whisky. I can still recall his face when the barmaid poured the standard measure, which looked tiny in his huge hands. I think it took a treble to get it to an acceptable size. The other shock was the closing times there – 10pm from memory.

Former colleague Bertus De Jong was berating the Irish supporters’ pessimism, as from a neutral perspective, he couldn’t see any way the game could be lost. We knew better. We had seen this movie before….

I was relatively relaxed though. My pessimism was ebbing away as the target reduced down to near 100 needed. Then I had a thought and I knew the game was lost. “it’s like a routine T20 chase now..” Oh, ooh, jungle….

Sure enough, the wheels came off. A 24-run defeat followed. Couple of thoughts on the game, and it’s not a case of being wise after the event.

Andy McBrine was bowling well and had taken 2-3 when Kieron Pollard came in. I can understand letting Josh Little having a few overs at 62 for 4, but surely ‘Scra’ could have been given another couple? We made the same mistake in Mohali in 2011 and it cost the game and ultimately a quarter-finals slot.

My other observation was the concussion substitute. I would have given William McClintock a go. Neil Rock is a fine batsman, and I hope he has a long and successful career. I just would have backed Willie to clear the ropes a few times. Not a case of hindsight being the foresight of a gobshite, but just a hunch at the time.

Anyway, despite the result, encouraging signs. Perhaps not surprising that it was a closely fought affair given we are 12th in the ODI rankings and West Indies 8th

Now if we could just get our T20 game sorted….