June 29, 2001

Irish Trophy hopes hit hard as USA records easy win

Ireland were seeded second coming into this tournament but today looked a class below an exciting USA side who complemented tight bowling with spectacular batting to earn a surprisingly easy win.

The Irishmen, who had high hopes coming into this tournament, will now be concerned about their chances of reaching the crucial third place or higher needed for World Cup qualification, and US confidence will be sky-high.

Despite a classy 80 from young Middlesex batsman Ed Joyce, the Irish never seemed headed for anything more than a moderate total against a USA team that worked hard for its wickets at the Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club. The USA bowlers gave little away, and Nasir Islam (4/32) took four good wickets.

There seemed to be little in the wicket for the pacers, and the USA relied heavily on the variation Islam was able to provide with his medium pace and off spin, along with the considerable turn produced by left arm orthodox spinner Joy Zinto (0/34).

Openers Andrew White (43) and Jason Molins (21) played sensibly in their stand of 58 and then Joyce batted with confidence from the start, taking the easy singles on offer and hitting the bad ball hard.

But the remainder of the batting fell away quickly against an attack that bowled consistently well. The USA fielding was somewhat erratic, sometimes sloppy and at other times excellent, but also produced a wicket - in brilliant fashion - when a superb save at mid-off by Staple led to the run out of Andrew Patterson (9).

Chasing a score of 209, the USA reply started in sensational fashion, treating the Irish bowling with scant respect

After Ryan Eagleson (2/34) bowled a tight first over, Dave Wallace (14) smashed two fours, and cut a six off the back foot as Paul Mooney (0/30) paid the price for bowling short.

A promising start looked to be cut short as Wallace was run out after a misunderstanding, but that only ushered in the arrival of Mark Johnson (54), who proceeded to take the attack apart. Favouring the drive, both on the ground and in the air, he raced to his half century off just 38 balls, with an amazing twelve boundaries.

The Irish rang the changes but the bowling was treated with almost embarrassing ease. The spinners came on but failed to stem the flood. Eagleson returned and snapped up the wicket of Rohan Alexander (16), who had played well in a support role, but greeted Staple (46*) with a bouncer which was hooked with disdain and control over square leg.

Shortly afterwards, Johnson, who had reached his fifty with a lovely shot whipped through mid wicket, tried the lofted drive again, and was dropped at long on. Eagleson fooled Johnson with a change of pace next ball, and when an leading edge ballooned the ball back toward him, completed a superb catch diving full length and landing almost at the batsman's feet.

That brought in former West Indian Test cricketer Faoud Bacchus (44). After a slow start, he began to play with fluency, belying his 47 years. Staple also looked very comfortable, hooking well, and driving anything pitched up.

A couple of Bacchus cover drives were played with classic wristy elegance, the ball racing over to the grass to the boundary, giving the cover fielders no chance.

The Irish heads started to drop and, when Bacchus failed to respond to Staple's call, they were unable to convert the easiest possible run out chance with both batsman at the same end.

The off spin of White (0/38) had been hit hard by Johnson and, when he returned, Bacchus hit him for two sixes over mid wicket then followed them with two elegant cover drives for four to raise 21 runs from the over. He was bowled by Patterson just short of a well deserved fifty but, by then, the USA already had 185 on the board in the thirty-fifth over.

Eagleson apart, the Irish bowling flagged under the early pressure, and their spinners were unable to exploit the turn that had favoured the US spinners.