Scotland 150 for 4 (Cross 60) beat Ireland 146 for 5 (Rankin 34) by six wickets
International cricket returned to the North West of Ireland for the first time in eleven years on Thursday but the hosts were unable to deliver the result, or performance, the locals had waited for so long to see. Cricket is like a second religion in this part of the world but fans left the picturesque ground in Bready feeling underwhelmed having watched a Scottish side dismantle Ireland with worrying ease.
If John Bracewell - the new Ireland head coach - wasn't fully aware of the task that lies ahead, this will have served as a revealing exercise as those given the opportunity to stake a claim were unable to grasp it. With the core of their side unavailable due to county commitments, Ireland lacked coherence - with both bat and ball - and save for a promising debut performance from David Rankin, the younger brother of Boyd, on his home ground, there were very little positives to take.
For their part, this was the perfect start to a busy, and important, six weeks in the shortest format for Scotland as they strolled to a six-wicket victory with plenty to spare. A disciplined bowling performance laid the foundations for a convincing, and clinical, win which will give Grant Bradburn and his players great heart heading into the remainder of this three-game series, which has been designed as a warm-up for the forthcoming World T20 Qualifiers.
Matthew Cross scored a fluent half-century, including eleven boundaries, to underpin a leisurely run chase after Scotland's bowlers had operated with great discipline and control. Tyrone Kane, another Irish debutant, took three wickets in his first over of international cricket but Scotland had done all the hard work to ensure there was to be no late blip.
In the space of six balls, Kane showed his team-mates how to bowl on a slow surface. Far too often, Max Sorensen, Craig Young and Graeme McCarter bowled short and wide, allowing Cross to free his arms and reduce the rate with each passing boundary. With Tim Murtagh recently retiring from T20, Ireland's options with the ball are becoming increasingly threadbare. How Bracewell would dearly love to have another Rankin at his disposal.
Richie Berrington and Craig Wallace combined to take the sting out of any Irish fightback with a destructive partnership of 56, from just 32 balls, to see their side over the line.
The game was preceded by a minute's silence as a mark of respect for the six Irish students who tragically lost their lives in Berkeley, California on Tuesday and Ireland's performance was similarly subdued.
Kevin O'Brien had little hesitation in batting first but a much-changed Ireland top-order was suffocated as regular wickets checked the hosts' progress. Once again, the gulf between domestic and international cricket was demonstrated. Stuart Poynter, the young Durham wicket-keeper batsman, has yet to provide convincing evidence to suggest he's worthy of the attention while his older brother, Andrew, played a rash shot early in his innings.
They will have a shot at redemption when the sides return on Friday evening but the arrival of George Dockrell and Andrew Balbirnie is a reminder that those hoping to impress have limited time to do so.