Niall O’Brien: Ireland need a win against Bangladesh just to boost morale

When they haven't been rained off, Ireland have lost all their matches so far this summer. Bangladesh on Wednesday could be where they turn it around.


Ireland’s bowling will be a worry for the coach Graham Ford. He must realise they’re missing some fire-power.

From the outset of the chase, it looked like a West Indies win. There was never any stage when it looked like Ireland were fighting their way into the game. That’s a real concern. Bowlers accept that in one-day cricket now you’re going to get hit around the park. That’s just the game now. But if you’re a bowler you’ve got to take wickets.

Barry McCarthy is one player Ireland have who does that. He’s averaging two wickets in every ODI he plays, and he’s got 25 under his belt at this stage. That’s a really phenomenal strike-rate, even if he is a little expensive.

He’s a must for Ireland now.

They are struggling to get wickets, so if you’ve got someone who’ll guarantee you two per game, he has to play. And if all the other bowlers are getting hit around the park anyway, you might as well have someone in there who’s going to take some wickets.

One Day International Tri-Series, Malahide, Dublin 11/5/2019
Ireland vs West Indies
West Indies’ Shai Hope and Sunil Ambris
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

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There’s also some deep-thinking required to look at who bowls when, where and what. Ireland have some good bowlers and you have to decide how best to use them. That comes down to the captain and he has a big part to play now. Boyd Rankin is 6ft 8, he’s got to open the bowling for me. He can make it very uncomfortable for opening batsmen. He’s nasty and aggressive. That’s what Ireland need.

They’re crying out for a leg-spinner too. Pembroke’s JJ Garth is a good cricketer but he’s still in his teens. The coach might have to risk a young bowler soon who can turn a ball because Ireland don’t look like they’re going to take too many wickets at the moment.

Paul Stirling’s been fairly under-bowled in the last couple of years. Ireland always said Paul’s got a real golden arm. Kevin O’Brien is someone who can bowl in the middle overs with the keeper standing up and tempt the batsmen.

Really, they need to try everything they can because they need a win against Bangladesh just to boost morale. It’s quite low at the moment.

One Day International, Stormont Cricket Club, Belfast 29/8/2018
Ireland vs Afghanistan
Ireland’s Boyd Rankin
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Rowland White

Bangladesh could be an opportunity

Ireland aren’t going to make the final. That’s a bitter disappointment on home soil but, with Bangladesh already through, this is an opportunity too as the visitors might be a little off-guard and rest a few players.

If I’m in that dressing room as a player I’m thinking we can beat Bangladesh. There are no world-beaters – besides Shakib al-Hasan – in their side.

I’d be backing myself to go out there and put a significant score on the board, and then fight for every run in the field.

It’s a good opportunity for Ireland if they’re up for the challenge.

Ireland should think “Let’s show everyone what we’re really made of.” People are writing off Ireland now, but a win over Bangladesh will prove a lot of those doubters wrong. I hope they can do it on Wednesday.

It’ll come down to the old guard again – Balbirnie, O’Brien, Stirling – Boyd Rankin will have a big part to play.

One Day International Tri-Series, Malahide, Dublin 11/5/2019
Ireland vs West Indies
Ireland’s Andrew Balbirnie
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Captain searching for form

It’s worth saying the batting was fantastic against the Windies. It was probably the best batting performance since Nelson in 2015 when Ireland beat the West Indies. It was sensational.

Andrew Balbirnie was flawless. He didn’t give a chance, he never looked like getting out, and then Paul Stirling found some form again – a very pleasing sight for every Irish fan – and Kevin O ‘Brien and Mark Adair went in to put the icing on the cake.

Posting a score over 320 at Malahide, Ireland would’ve been very confident of defending that.

I know his form has been patchy, and he’s suffered some injuries, but I was surprised by William Porterfield dropping down the order though, and I didn’t agree with it. He’s captain of the side and he’s opened the batting for most of his career.

He’s got to take the bull by the horns now and stay opening the batting. I know James McCollum opened the batting for the Ireland Wolves team, but a young lad like him has to fit in around the more senior players.

I hope William Porterfield gets back to the top of the order and that he can rekindle some form because time is ticking. Everyone in Ireland wants to see him playing well, but there’s only so long that Graham Ford’ll be able to persist with him.

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