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Dublin: 5°C Friday 5 March 2021

Ireland's rapid decline continues as they roll over at start of historic England series

A hugely disappointing day for Irish cricket.

Image: Andrew Fosker/INPHO

IRELAND SLUMPED TO a humiliating, and abject, defeat to England in the first One-Day International at Bristol today, a result and performance which once again reinforces the team’s alarming decline.

All of the pre-game concerns surrounding Ireland’s form were justified as John Bracewell’s side produced a feeble effort with the bat and the sense of foreboding heading to Sunday’s second game at Lord’s heightens.

It is a great shame that these occasions, and further opportunities, are coming at a time when Ireland are on a rapid downward spiral and Bracewell’s position as head coach is now surely becoming increasingly untenable.

After winning the toss and electing to bat, Ireland started brightly but, almost inevitably, collapsed as the visitors lost eight wickets for just 45 runs to be bowled out for 126 with 17 overs of the innings remaining.

The most damning indictment was that England, despite the early loss of Jason Roy, strolled to a seven-wicket victory before the lunch interval normally held between the two innings. They had wrapped up victory four hours before the scheduled conclusion of the game.

This week was marked as a historic one for Irish cricket, and it certainly can still be with a first-ever ODI at Lord’s to come, but it is now threatening to become a hugely alarming weekend. These type of performances when the world is watching are incredibly damaging.

Ed Joyce dejected after being bowled out Ed Joyce trudges off. Source: Andrew Fosker/INPHO

England, for their part, were clinical in turning the screw and dispatching Ireland to record an emphatic first victory of a summer which will see them look to win the Champions Trophy on home soil.

Leg-spinner Adil Rashid took five for 27 — his career-best figures at this level — and caused the most destruction while Ireland inexcusably lost two wickets to the part-time offspin of Joe Root on a pitch which offered little assistance for the slower bowlers.

Andrew Balbirnie top-scored with 30 in an innings where only openers Paul Stirling and Ed Joyce also managed to get past 20, but nobody kicked on and the middle order collapse made for bleak viewing.

Gary Wilson, Kevin O’Brien and Stuart Thompson offered little resistance and showed none of the application or fight required to dig in and construct an innings. It’ll be interesting to hear the excuses offered up for such a poor performance afterwards.

The early wicket of Roy apart, England were in complete control of the contest and it was disappointing for a near-capacity crowd, which included many Irish supporters who had travelled over, to see such a one-sided contest.

William Porterfield celebrates taking the wicket of Alex Hales Peter Chase took three wickets but it was too little, too late. Source: Andrew Fosker/INPHO

The performance of Peter Chase with the ball offered some encouragement as he struck to remove Roy and then came back into the attack later to end the innings of Alex Hales (55) and England captain Eoin Morgan (10).

But it was all immaterial in the grand scheme of things on a hugely disappointing day for Irish cricket.

The only thing is, it can’t get much worse at Lord’s on Sunday.

First One-Day International, Bristol:

Ireland 126 all out (Balbirnie 30, Rashid 5/27)

England 127/3 (Hales 55, Root 49*, Chase 3/44)

England win by seven wickets

Full scorecard available here

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Ryan Bailey

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