Niall O’Brien: Morgan suspension could be clever move before World Cup

Oh, and Ireland lost again.

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This is a serious issue for the England team. They bowled their overs 45 minutes late. They’ve got their allotted time, and every time you go over there’s a reprimand and those accumulate over matches. Unfortunately, it’s got Eoin Morgan now.

It’s not his fault but he’s the captain so he carries the can. Pakistan were smashing the ball all over the ground, so fetching the ball and changing the field takes time, but the captain is held accountable for any delays.

GRENADA, GRENADA – FEBRUARY 27: England captain Eoin Morgan salutes the crowd as he leaves the field during the 4th One Day International match between the West Indies and England at Grenada National Stadium on February 27, 2019 in Grenada, Grenada. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

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I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing for England though, because it gets the suspension out of the way before the World Cup. If you were being clever about it, you could say it was a sharp move from them to clear their record by getting the suspension over with now, before the tournament starts.

They have Jofra Archer to soften the blow too. He’s been sensational so far this summer.

He has to play in the World Cup for me. I would have him in the starting eleven straight away.

He did his time and has qualified to play. Even if he has a Bajan accent, he’s good to go for England now and he makes their team better. From a player’s point of view, they should put out the best team they have to win the World Cup.

I would expect him to play in the Test match at Lords against Ireland too.

I think the lad’s got a very bright future. He’s a fast bowler who can hit a big ball too. He’s a wonderful talent.

One Day International Tri-Series, Malahide, Dublin 11/5/2019
Ireland vs West Indies
Ireland’s Boyd Rankin bowls out Sunil Ambrose of West Indies
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Irish bowlers toil again

Ireland’s batting was impressive again versus Bangladesh. Paul Stirling was superb, hitting a wonderful century. Andrew Balbirnie looked good before getting a dubious decision, and thankfully, William Porterfield came good with the bat and was unlucky not get a century.

That’s good news for Ireland. The captain’s back in form and any chatter about his future can be put to bed.

However, 292 looked a below-par score at the innings break and was always going to be difficult to defend. If you’d asked Ireland against Bangladesh was it enough, they’d have probably said we’d need 20 or 30 more.

But in hindsight, they probably needed 400 the way they bowled.

They’d have had to bowl superbly well to win. Neither bowling nor fielding was up to scratch. In the end, it was a comprehensive hammering.

The lack of opportunities the bowlers are creating is a real worry. They look to be running out of ideas after a tough two weeks and several drubbings.

Previous Ireland teams had Trent Johnston, Andre Botha, John Mooney, and Alex Cusack. None had great pace but they all bowled line-and-length and they asked questions of batsmen. At the moment, Ireland’s bowlers are not getting that right.

World Cricket League Championship, Sharjah, UAE 20/3/2013
Ireland’s Trent Johnston appeals a decision
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Barry Chambers

It could be that the bowlers don’t have the technical capability to bowl a consistent line, or it could be mind-set. What is the bowler’s objective? Is it to hit the top of off-stump or is he out to take wickets? If it’s the latter, it doesn’t always help the side because he ends up trying to bowl magic deliveries and they go for boundaries.

At the moment, it looks like the bowlers are trying to force the issue.

Is that on the batsmen or the bowlers? You can draw your own conclusions, but if you’re going in to bat knowing you need 400 you’re not going to win too many games.

One-Day International, Malahide Cricket Club, Dublin 3/5/2019
Ireland vs England
Ireland’s William Porterfield
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Oisin Keniry

Pressure building

Afghanistan and Zimbabwe don’t have the batting firepower of the Windies and Bangladesh, so 290 and 320 would probably be good enough to beat the teams coming up.

But the batsmen need to keep the foot down. They’ve players in form now – Balbirnie, Stirling, Porterfield, O’Brien – so there’s no reason they shouldn’t be positive. I’d be more concerned about the bowling.

They’ve a very good bowling coach in Rob Cassell, and there’ll be a lot of head-scratching because at the moment the bowlers aren’t doing the job. If Ireland don’t win both Afghanistan and Zimbabwe ODI series’ that’d be almost a disastrous campaign for them.

They’ll be hurting now, but if they don’t win the next two series’ there’ll be serious questions to answer after an unsuccessful home summer.

They probably wouldn’t have expected to be in the final of the competition, but would they have expected to win a game? Yes, I think so.

There will be a lot of pressure on these games. Afghanistan will be gearing up for the World Cup and will be right on the money. I’d expect that series to be very tight and competitive.

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