A “very, very sad day for Windies cricket” is how captain Kieron Pollard summarised his side’s shock one-day international series defeat to Ireland earlier this week.
Pollard must reload his batting ammo before England arrive for five T20s, starting this Saturday, where the visitors will be looking to erase their own post-Ashes gloom from memory.
But let’s focus on Ireland, as they revel in a first ODI series win away to a full member nation of the International Cricket Council.
They made history after coming through a storm of Covid-19, injuries and embarrassing losses to the likes of USA and Jamaica, taking the wind out of Windies’ sails in a 2-1 series victory thanks to an all-round performance by Andy McBrine in Sunday’s third and final game.
The last time Ireland won an ODI series was July 2019 against Zimbabwe and when they were previously in the West Indies they were whitewashed 3-0.
Their prospects of an unlikely series win were dented further before the game, when captain Andy Balbirnie, wicketkeeper-batter Lorcan Tucker and interim head coach David Ripley all returned positive Covid tests.
It didn’t look good for the men in green when the Windies were cruising at 72-0, but McBrine and Craig Young combined to take seven wickets and leave the opposition reeling at 119-7 before eventually bowling them out for 212.
Despite losing William Porterfield for 0, McBrine steadied the ship with 59 off 100 but succumbed to Odean Smith attempting a scoop over the keeper’s head.
Alarm set in towards the end of their chase when, needing just two runs, Ireland lost five wickets for nine.
But Craig Young sealed victory in the 45th over with a cheeky opening of the bat face to guide the ball to the third man boundary and clinch a momentous win.
McBrine’s contributions of 128 runs and 10 wickets across three games helped him bag both the Man of the Match and Player of the Series awards.
After his heroics, McBrine said: “It means a lot to the team.”
“The last three to four weeks haven’t been easy on us, but there’s a fighting spirit left in us and we showed that today”.
The victory cemented their third-place ranking in the ICC ODI Super League which acts as direct qualification for the 2023
World Cup in India.
It raises hopes of a return to the tournament, which they failed to reach in 2019 if there is still a long way to go as countries such as, with other countries, such as fourth-placed Australia, have only played nine games to Ireland’s 18 having several games in hand.
But Ireland should savour this away win. They are far and few between and this one may make other boards take the men in green more seriously, paving the way, if nothing else, for a fixtures list filled with teams further up the food chain.