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Dublin: -2°C Sunday 11 April 2021

Fans left soaked and short-changed by Friday's washout given free tickets

It was a day of great frustration for all at Malahide as Ireland’s summer began on a damp note.

Some remained put until an official decision was made
Some remained put until an official decision was made
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Ryan Bailey reports from Malahide

FROM THE OUTSET, there was an inevitability about the outcome in Malahide on Friday as the forecast rain duly arrived and washed away any hopes of meaningful action for the 10,000 fans in attendance.

It was a day of great frustration for all involved at the Royal London One-Day International between Ireland and England as just an hour of play was possible before the heavens opened to rain, quite literally, on everyone’s parade.

By the time the umpires officially pulled the plug not long after lunchtime, the majority of the crowd who had braved the elements had retreated to the inner sanctums of a warm pub down the village. Small consolations, and all that.

Many had travelled from afar for the showcase fixture of Ireland’s international summer but they were to make the return journey disappointed and perhaps feeling a little short-changed.

“It’s such a shame,” John O’Reilly, who was on a 7am train from Cork with his son and grandson to make the game, told The42.

“We were here for the match in 2013 and couldn’t miss this one. The forecast was bad all week but we had tickets so came up anyway and we still had a good day out.”

Fans look on during a rain delay Some fans remained patient in hope of further play Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Once the players were taken from the field shortly after noon, a mass exodus ensued as there was almost an acceptance of the game’s fate. It’s not often the forecasts are accurate but once it came down, it never stopped.

The radar was so bleak, cleaning staff had already begun their tidy-up operation even though a handful of optimistic supporters, equipped with umbrellas and waterproofs, remained put.

There was one couple below the media centre who were first in the gate and last to leave. They came to see cricket and weren’t going to head home until all hopes were extinguished.

“It’s one of those things you can’t do anything about unfortunately. The only thing we can do is take out rain insurance,” Cricket Ireland CEO Warren Deutrom told The42 last week.

Indeed, Cricket Ireland are left to count the cost of a washout with the governing body missing out on valuable revenue from a key date in their calendar. Despite protestations from soaked fans on social media, ticket holders aren’t entitled to a refund because the minimum ten overs had been bowled.

But it was later confirmed complimentary tickets will be offered to supporters for the World Twenty20 Qualifiers at the same venue in July or the three-match series against Scotland a month earlier.

Michael D. Higgins at the game President Higgins was among the 10,000 in attendance before rain intervened Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“There was still a great atmosphere despite the weather,” one fan said as he left the ground. “It wouldn’t put us off coming back because it’s just the luck of the draw. It’s an amazing set-up here and one bad day can’t put you off.”

But unfortunately it’s the reality of cricket in this country. Since the 2007 World Cup, twelve of Ireland’s 17 ODIs on home soil have been rain-affected or abandoned.

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As cricket continues to soar in the sporting conscience here, Cricket Ireland are fully aware of the need to tap into new fan bases but also the importance of getting them to come back.

“I am a massive sports fan but only got into cricket in the last few years,” Aisling O’Loughlin said as she patiently waited in her seat for a resumption in play.

“I saw Ireland play at the World Cup and instantly fell in love with it but I brought friends who never had been to a cricket game before today and it’ll be pretty difficult to convince them to come back. It’s nobody’s fault but that’s just the way it is.”

Given the paucity of fixtures as it is, Ireland can barely afford to miss out on these valuable opportunities against Full Member nations because of the weather. This time twelve months ago, a game against Sri Lanka went the same way without a ball being bowled.

Tim Bresnan in conversation with Ed Joyce Ed Joyce and Tim Bresnan exchanged a couple of words during the little play fans saw Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The chance to showcase the sport to the general public and exhibit Ireland’s cricketing pedigree to a worldwide audience via Sky Sports came and went in a flash.

“I appreciate they can’t just start rearranging games but surely they could have one reserve day,” another hardened supporter suggested. “Cricket Ireland always put on a great show but it is difficult to go to games when the weather is like this.”

As new head coach John Bracewell watched on, Ireland struggled to combat the early English onslaught under grey skies as they slumped to 56-4.

It’s unlikely Bracewell will be able to draw too many conclusions from what he did see but he now has first-hand evidence of the obstacles facing Ireland. Even when the Full Members are convinced to pay a fleeting visit to these shores, the game is at the mercy of the weather with the next opportunity not coming until August when Australia are in Belfast.

Cricket - One Day International - Ireland v England - The Village There were some who were desperate to see some cricket Source: Ken Sutton

While all the off-field preparations – the event was almost a year in the planning – were ultimately wasted, the primary focus is on what happens in the middle.

The 57-year-old Kiwi will now have a couple of weeks to settle in and evaluate before deciding in which direction he wants to take this team.

As the process of dismantling the temporary stadium began immediately, it was somewhat ironic The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” was on the Malahide playlist.

Cricket Ireland will certainly be hoping the weather gods are on their side when the crowds return to the venue at the start of next month for the start of the seminal Intercontinental Cup campaign.

Rain sweeps over sold-out Malahide as showcase fixture washed out

About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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