Eastern Province XI v Ireland, Port Elizabeth January 24, 2007

Carroll gives Ireland a timely boost

Barry Chambers

Ireland 279 for 3 (Carroll 100, J Bray 89, E Morgan 43) beat Eastern Province XI 219 (Wessels 62, J Smuts 60, T Johnston 4-34, D Langford-Smith 3-39) by 60 runs

Twenty-three-year-old Dublin postman Kenny Carroll has given Irish coach Adrian Birrell a selection headache, after the Railway Union opening bat scored a marvellous century in a 60-run win over Eastern Province.

The batting disappointment of yesterday was quickly erased as Carroll and Jeremy Bray shared an unbeaten opening stand of 183 in just 34 overs, before both batsmen retired to give the others practice ahead of the World League which gets under way on Monday. Carroll struck 13 fours and one six in his score of 100, while Bray was just a little slower, taking 117 deliveries for his 89, which included 12 fours.

The only batsman to be dismissed was Eoin Morgan of Middlesex, who looked in supreme touch in his knock of 43 off just 30 balls. He struck three sixes and the same number of fours being being caught off the bowling of Newton. Northants new signing Niall O' Brien scored 24 not out, while Andrew White also finished unbeaten on 9, as the Irish racked up a formidable 279 for 3 in their 50 overs.

However, Eastern Province set about the total in positive fashion, and thanks to a 104 run stand for the second wicket between Jan Smuts (60), and Rikki Wessels (62), were well placed at 157 for 1 in the 30th over. Ireland's most capped player, Kyle McCallan made the decisive breakthrough, having Smuts caught by Andy White at backward square leg. When skipper Trent Johnston then had Wessels caught at midwicket, again by White, in the next over, it sparked a dramatic collapse.

Johnston took 4 for 34, while Dave Langford-Smith came back well to finish with 3 for 39. The other wicket takers were Boyd Rankin, 2 for 37, and McCallan, 1 for 35 in his 10-over spell. Easter Province finished on 219 all out in the 48th over, giving the Irish a welcome win.

Coach Adrian Birrell was delighted with the performance, "We batted superbly, with everyone taking advantage of the fantastic batting conditions on offer. Carroll continues to impress, and I'm delighted for him. It's the result of hard work put in over the last few years, and his time at the ICC Training Camp has taken his game to a completely new level. It gives me plenty of options both at the top and in the middle of the order."

He also had special praise for both Johnston and McCallan. " The two guys bowled extremely well at a time when Eastern Province looked like they were getting on top. They tightened things up, applied the pressure, and got their rewards as the run rate increased. The fielding has been sharp, and it's something I've worked on a lot over the winter. I'm hoping for more of the same in the day/night game tomorrow."