Australia duly completed their expected CricInfo Women's World Cup victory over Ireland at Hagley Oval today, the 10-wicket margin as comprehensive on the field as it was on paper.
Ireland followed the pattern of their first match against New Zealand. They won the toss, chose bravely to bat first on a pitch with a definite tinge of green, produced one reasonable partnership but, as in their first match, failed to get out of the nervous nineties. Catherine O'Neill (28) and Caitriona Beggs (18) provided stubborn resistance in the middle of the innings but they were never able to get on top of the Australians.
Sixteen runs from wides did give the Australian coach, John Harmer, a matter to address at the team review of the match. But he was happy with their fielding performance in trying conditions with a wintery southerly battering the ground for much of the match.
The veteran Zoe Goss was the standout bowler, her four for 10 off 9.3 overs deservedly winning her the CricInfo Player of the Match award.
Ireland were treated to the disconcerting experience of the hero of the Australian win over New Zealand, Theresa McGregor, completing her first five overs of pace before resuming later in the innings to put her leg-spin skills into practice. Both variations were effective, the women's version of the Australian medium pacer/off spinner, Colin Miller, going for just 14 off her mixed 10 with her wicket coming off her longer run-up. That was courtesy of an exceptional Karen Rolton reflex catch at silly mid off to remove a driving Karen Young after the Ireland opening pair of Young and Anne Linehan had looked comfortable enough for the first seven overs.
The target of 91 was never going to challenge the Australians. But Harmer was very pleased with the way his openers went about the task. Belinda Clark and Lisa Keightley "did the job they had to do," passing the mark in the 21st over and just failing to manufacture a half century for Keightley, who was left 49 not out.
Hames said Clark was keen to get runs and would be happy with her unbeaten 40 after going cheaply in their first two matches.
Reflecting a willingness of all teams to battle to the end, coaches in this competition have not been slow in praising the losers, no matter how well beaten. Harmer was no exception. Noting that Ireland had worked hard, he said: "They'll have a couple of good days before the tournament is out."
That is a warning for some of the second tier teams. The Ireland coach, John Wills, said that, with the learning experience of playing New Zealand and Australia behind them, Ireland were now entering what was for them the serious part of the tournament.
He said they got what they expected from the Australians. "There are no second chances against the top teams." He felt his side bowled and fielded well despite defending such a small target but that the batting had collectively been disappointing. However, he noted with satisfaction that O'Neill's effort had been recognised with the awarding of a point in the overall performance competition.
Ireland now go on to put what they have learned in their opening matches to the test against Sri Lanka on Tuesday while Australia have a couple of days off before what promises to be a most interesting contest against India on Wednesday.