Ireland v England, RSA Challenge, Malahide September 3, 2013

Morgan, Bopara tons see off Ireland challenge


England 274 for 4 (Morgan 124*, Bopara 101*, Murtagh 3-33) beat Ireland 269 for 7 (Porterfield 112, Rankin 4-46) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

In so many ways this was a fantastic day for Ireland cricket: close to 10,000 people at international cricket's newest venue, perfect weather, a hundred from their captain a new-ball spell that left England reeling. Yet it may also have felt like a bit of a kick in the teeth as Eoin Morgan, who grew up playing his cricket at Malahide, produced a scintillating career-best hundred to ensure the visitors chased down a testing total with a convincing seven overs to spare.

For both teams, the bowling was the weaker suit and Ireland's could not withstand the onslaught. Morgan, who was welcome to the crease by boos but applauded for his landmarks, and Ravi Bopara added 226 for in 28 overs, a record fifth-wicket stand in one-day internationals and England's joint second-best for all wickets, after they had been tottering on 48 for 4. Tim Murtagh bowled his 10 overs straight through to finish with 3 for 33 but Ireland's spinners were disappointing and their fill-in medium-pacers could not provide control.

Bopara ended the match with a stream of boundaries, reaching his maiden ODI hundred off 74 balls - the second fastest for England behind Kevin Pietersen's 69-ball effort against South Africa. He went four, six, four against George Dockrell to ensure he did not run out of runs before Morgan finished the match with another blow over the ropes.

For Morgan, who was also Man of the Match when these sides met two years, this was an especially timely innings. He has been short of runs for England in recent times - this was his first ODI hundred since September 2010 and his first half-century since last August - and, with his continued commitment to the IPL, needed to reaffirm his credentials as England's key middle-order player, especially ahead of captaining against Australia.

England certainly needed them here. William Porterfield's sixth ODI hundred had formed the cornerstone to Ireland's competitive 269 for 7, which became an even more imposing total when England's inexperienced top order was blown away by accurate seam bowling.

Michael Carberry completed a forgettable ODI debut when he was lbw to Trent Johnston for 10 having earlier dropped two catches in the outfield and bowled one over for 12. Murtagh then claimed two wickets in three balls, forcing Luke Wright to chop on and then ending Gary Ballance's debut innings second ball when the left-hander feathered an edge to Gary Wilson trying to leave the ball.

James Taylor mixed some punchy drives with less convincing prods and was bowled by Murtagh. England were 48 for 4, a full house basking under the warm sun were finding their voice and the Guinness was being lined up. Ashley Giles and the England selectors may also have been a little twitchy.

In the end, though, the victory came at a rollicking pace as Morgan and Bopara dispatched the ball to all parts. It bodes well for the future of the venue that its first ODI can produce a pitch where 270 is chased down.

Morgan brought out his full range of strokes - one early cover drive off Kevin O'Brien pinged to the boundary - and he soon dominated against the spin, which diluted a key part of Porterfield's attack. His hundred, the fifth of his ODI career and fourth for England, came from 94 balls and it was brought up with a scorching six over extra cover off Johnston.

Because of his backstory Morgan will make the headlines, but Bopara's role was another massive tick in his column during a season where he has appeared a cricketer revived after last year's problems. Using the experience he has built up, but has often threatened to waste, he was happy to fly under the radar while Morgan made the running, then as the target neared start to expand his strokeplay.

He had 36 off 43 when he struck two huge sixes off Paul Stirling and then made hay against the friendly medium pace of Kevin O'Brien and John Mooney. Having previously fallen for 96 in ODIs he made sure he finally secured three figures in emphatic fashion.

The importance of this match to Ireland was huge - with it being broadcast around the world and played in front of a record attendance - and the captain Porterfield took it upon his shoulders, with a measured 142-ball innings, to ensure England knew they had been in a hard-fought contest.

He reached his hundred in symbolic style, pulling his county colleague and former Ireland team-mate Boyd Rankin for six. Porterfield's previous five hundreds have come against Bangladesh and fellow Associate nations so this one, despite the shadow nature of England's team, arguably stands atop. That his team's bowling performance was a reality check does not dilute his innings.

There were subplots throughout, from county team-mates facing off against each other, two Irish captains (as in 2011) and an England debut for a former Ireland pace bowler who had 37 caps for them. Rankin made a nervous start but finished with a career-best 4 for 46 despite not completing his full 10 overs.

Rankin's first scalp for his new country - he became the eighth player to appear in ODIs for two nations - came when he squared up Stirling and his second wicket came in more unconventional fashion when Ed Joyce's back foot slid back, as he played to the off side, and rocked the base of leg stump, which dislodged a bail.

Only Rankin appeared to notice and pointed at the bail, leading to the umpires consulting the TV evidence, which soon showed that Joyce was out. The dismissal also provided a curious double: at the 2007 World Cup, Joyce and Rankin were on opposite sides and Rankin removed the left-hander with his first ball in the group match.

Ireland's progress, though, remained solid. Porterfield was given a couple of early deliveries to clip off his hip and later picked up boundaries through the off side. England's side felt a specialist pace bowler short and Tredwell was introduced in the 15th over. He should have provided England with a breakthrough when Niall O'Brien, on 14, top-edged a sweep but Carberry made a mess of the chance running in from deep midwicket as the ball bounced out of his hands. England's fielding was below its best throughout.

Tredwell soon took the fielders out of the equation by making another one grip to beat the left-hander on the back foot and hit the top of middle stump then trapped Wilson lbw. Kevin O'Brien joined Porterfield in a stand that had set the platform for a Powerplay boost only for O'Brien to pick out midwicket when he pulled a short delivery from Bopara. The innings stagnated during the fielding restrictions, five overs bringing just 16 runs, before Morgan's gamble with Carberry injected some life back into proceedings.

The sixth-wicket stand with Mooney was worth 63 when Porterfield was bowled off his pads - from way outside leg stump - by Rankin who then added Mooney. Ireland beaten by Ireland, you could say.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • nipun on September 5, 2013, 14:24 GMT

    two Irishmen hit hundreds & one took 4 wickets yet Ireland lost . how strange !

  • Dean on September 5, 2013, 11:19 GMT

    @glance_to_Leg, I like you idea in principle re Morgan, Rankin still playing for Ire in ltd overs cricket but still being available to play test cricket for eng. However I do think it is somewhat flawed. When Eng lost to Ire in the WC in 2011, Morgan was in the test side. Had Morgan played in that match for Ire he would have been playing against a number of his colleagues in the test team which surely would have caused issues.

  • Sean on September 5, 2013, 9:12 GMT

    I must admit i cant blame them for wanting to play for England.

  • John on September 5, 2013, 7:47 GMT

    @ gsingh7 on (September 4, 2013, 19:18 GMT) The scorecard with IRELAND and then the total and then ENGLAND and then the total should give it away that it's an Ireland/England game

    @Liquefierrrr on (September 4, 2013, 22:48 GMT) Eng shouldn't take much from this victory but let's face facts they are way better than Scotland.As I said before Tredwell was our best bowler and Ravi was our most impressive batsman. BTW , I presume you're happy with one overseas born player in the side but 2 is a farce or is it that guys like Morgan perform somewhat better than guys like Khawaja for their adopted countries

  • John on September 5, 2013, 5:21 GMT

    @Liquefierrrr on (September 4, 2013, 22:48 GMT), Bopara scored 46* against Australia in the recent CT and had good stats with both bat and ball against them in their last full ODI series. That's against Australia though, so I guess you're right about him only performing against minnows. As for who performed for England, those who watched the game know that Tredwell and Finn were England's best two bowlers, even if Ranking picked up more wickets. Of Rankin's four wickets, one was an LBW that pitched outside leg and one was a hit wicket, so there was an element of luck there. Tredwell also got a dodgy LBW but had two catches dropped and was far more economical than Rankin, who was not consistently accurate at all, particularly early. I think that most England fans concede that Ireland have been a little hard done by in losing two of their best but why all the exaggeration? Also, if anyone was playing a second XI it was England, with 8 first-choice players rested.

  • Dayne on September 4, 2013, 22:48 GMT

    Another farce - Ireland beat Ireland and the upcoming 'English' talent fails miserably.

    Australia shouldn't take anything from their smashing victory over Scotland, and England should take even less than that for this hollow victory over a minnow, whereby they poached two of Ireland's best players and they are the only ones who performed aside from Bopara, who is a proven failure at the highest level against reasonable opposition.

    But yes, English fans, cheer 'your' side on. We've seen your home-grown depth in the form of Kerrigan and Woakes at Test level recently, so I understand the lack of concession here.

    I was about to implicate Ballance's 2nd ball duck then remembered even he isn't English, he's Zimbabwean.

    This is very typical of an English team that, whilst successful, has a very inflated player base due to the fact that a lot of their sides in all formats are either South African or Irish.

    Poor Ireland, a minnow side playing its 2nd-string XI and they did a great job.

  • John on September 4, 2013, 20:14 GMT

    @Colm Mooneyon (September 4, 2013, 8:45 GMT) I genuinely understand your gripes but these players want to play test cricket now while they are in their prime and when do we think Ireland will be accepted as a test playing nation? But this sort of thing has happened against England in other sports. Eng never had a quality left midfielder/winger all those years Giggs was playing for Wales and John Aldridge would surely have made it into the Eng national side. I wonder what the score is if an Irish player (chosen by Eng) wants to go back to Ireland? It didn't seem to take Joyce too long to become available for Ireland again. I wonder if it's that easy to go back and play for Ireland now if Boyd or Eoin change their minds?

  • gurinder on September 4, 2013, 19:18 GMT

    well done to irish lads boyd, morgan, porterfield. i thought its a domestic match when morgan was batting against irish bowlers then i realised he is in an england shirt playing against his birth-country. it would have been excruciatingly painful for irish fans to watch one of their own score a match winning century against their team. wonder if they complained to icc about all this player poaching going on.. not fair to irish,at all

  • Ali on September 4, 2013, 16:35 GMT

    Why don't they join hands and play as one team - UK ....????

  • Dean on September 4, 2013, 15:49 GMT

    @lukemckeown89, I think it would have been harsh if Morgan had been told he couldn't play test cricket for eng because he had played for the country of his birth who are an associate & cannot play tests. I do agree that there should have been a proper qual period & that neither EM or Rankin should have been allowed to represent Ire & then represent Eng in such a short period of time. Rankin was also part of the Lions set up whilst still playing for Ire which can't be right either. The simple way around it would be to include Ire on the CFTP & as part of that give them limited test status. There is no reason why they won't be at the very least competive with Ban or Zim & I think they would at least be capable of doing well at home against teams like WIN, NZL & SRL. If this ltd status was given then an Irish player wishing to switch to Eng would have to go thru a 4 yr qualification period to become eligible, which i'm sure would go a long way to preventing the player drain.