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Dublin: 14 °C Sunday 26 May, 2019
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Rain puts Ireland's historic Test debut on hold as opening day washed out

Play was officially abandoned on the opening day of Ireland’s maiden Test just after 3pm.

Rain left puddles forming on the outfield.
Rain left puddles forming on the outfield.
Image: Charles McQuillan

Updated May 11th 2018, 4:00 PM

Ryan Bailey reports from Malahide

AND SO THE wait goes on.

An anti-climax in every sense of the word, as the opening day of Ireland’s historic Test was washed out without a ball being bowled, hence setting an unfortunate record in the sport’s history books.

No first day of a nation’s inaugural Test match has ever met this fate, with a combination of frustratingly persistent rain and high gusts at Malahide ensuring a momentous occasion started in utterly underwhelming fashion.

An expectant crowd of up to 6,000 people were left disappointed and drenched before a heavy downpour shortly after lunch confirmed the outcome which had looked inevitable from the outset.

In a statement, Cricket Ireland confirmed all ticket holders for Friday would receive a full refund: “All of today’s ticket-holders will receive a 100% refund. If purchased through Ticketmaster, you will be refunded into your bank account within 28 days. If purchased on the door, please return to the gate to collect your refund.”

When you’ve waited 141 years to reach the promised land, another 24 hours hardly seems significant, but there was still huge disappointment around the ground, particularly when the sun broke through shortly after play was officially abandoned for the day.

The good news, however, is that the forecast for day two on Saturday is much improved, with the ground staff confident they can mop up the surface water in time for an 11am start tomorrow morning.

A view of windy conditions at Malahide Cricket Club Ground staff had to battle with high winds this morning. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

There had been fleeting moments of optimism throughout Friday that there would be sufficient break in the clouds to see some action, but the big issue for ground staff was winds gusting up to 45kph.

A call had even been made to New Zealand’s Wellington Cricket Ground — the windiest cricket ground in the world — as to determine the best way to manage the conditions, as the high gusts meant it was nigh-on-impossible, and dangerous, to move the tarpaulin covers on and off the square.

Umpires Richard Illingworth and Nigel Llong made a number of inspections after the scheduled start time of 11am was delayed, before a nasty hail shower put pay to any lingering hopes of play.

A few hardy spectators braved the elements to remain in their seats in the temporary stands, while many more had predicted the inevitable by heading towards the relative warmth of Malahide’s establishments.

Despite the weather, there was still a sense of anticipation and excitement this morning as hundreds of fans travelled to, and queued outside, the north Dublin ground, waiting patiently for the chance to witness history.

A general view of Malahide Cricket Club All ticket holders for Friday will receive a full refund. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Alas, it wasn’t to be and, with cruel irony, no sooner had the umpires called off proceedings the sun pierced through the grey skies, and the wind which had proved so troublesome completely abated.

A damp squib, and more rain pain for Cricket Ireland after the last match of last summer against West Indies in Belfast went the same way, again highlighting the realities of hosting high-profile games in this part of the world.

A sell out crowd is expected on Saturday, when it is hoped Ireland will eventually make their Test bow under blue skies.

Let’s hope it’s worth the wait.

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At the end of a long and winding journey, Ireland ready for its place in cricket history

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Ryan Bailey

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