What a night it was was for Irish cricket. After one sided defeats in the last week in the One Day International series with world champions England, Ireland bounced back in an incredible batting display last night, beating England for just the second time ever in an ODI, and they did it in style, even if the drama was too much to handle for the last hour or so.
Ireland have beaten England in a cricket One Day International for just the 2nd time ever! Unbelievable performances from Paul Stirling and captain Andrew Balbirnie. And, of course, finished off by the Sasanach Killer himself Kevin O'Brien! pic.twitter.com/vuS4Mc8YwB
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) August 4, 2020
It looked to be another long day at the office for Ireland when England, inspired by captain (and, never let it not be said, Irishman) Eoin Morgan hitting a century, left Ireland with a large target of 329 to chase. After a tough series for the batsmen, they stepped up in Southampton last night for a famous win, and a massive fillip for Irish cricket.
Long time opener Paul Stirling was awarded man of the match for his brilliant hitting display, scoring 142. He formed an incredible partnership with team captain Andrew Balbirnie who batted beautifully and chipped in with 113. They departed the scene having put Ireland in a position to win, but with the game finely balanced.
The next partnership was indicative of the current state of Irish cricket with the old and new coming together. Kevin O'Brien, a legend of Irish cricket who was central to the Ireland's most famous days in 2007 against Pakistan, and most memorably, for his world record display against England in 2011, finished the job with the able help of Harry Tector, a 20-year-old Dubliner who made his ODI debut for Ireland just a week ago.
The comparisons are sure to be made with the famous night in Bangalore nine years ago when Ireland broke a World Cup record run chase to shock England and the world. After all, Ireland once again scored 329 in a run chase to win, and once again, Kevin O'Brien was at the heart of it. This was a very different occasion though with England fielding a young and experimental team devoid of their Test players who begin their series with Pakistan this morning. It was obviously missing the rabid crowds that filled the stadium in India on that famous 2011 day.
— Cricket Ireland (@Irelandcricket) August 4, 2020
That said, this was also an England team just a year on from winning the World Cup, and an Ireland team with a lot of new blood under new captain Balbirnie. Ireland beating any top tier nation, and especially England on English soil, is always going to be a massive achievement for a cricketing on our size, and last night was one to savour for the entire country.
Nobody enjoyed it more than most though than Michael McNamee, a sports presenter on BBC Radio Ulster who was in BBC's Test Match Special commentary box for the final over.
— Test Match Special (@bbctms) August 4, 2020
McNamee is steeped in cricketing tradition. His father Basil McNamee was a former Irish team manager and former president of Cricket Ireland. He died at the age of 81 in April this year.
His tenure as president included the famous night in Bangalore that his son Michael so passionately mentioned last night.
It was a night that not many involved in the Irish cricket community will forget in a hurry.