Shamarh Brooks was within touching distance of becoming only the second West Indian to hit a century on ODI debut, when he went back to a Mark Adair delivery and was adjudged lbw in the first ODI against Ireland on Saturday.
Brooks had made 93 off 89 balls, having come in at 59 for 2 and seen that become 62 for 4. He rebuilt alongside captain Kieron Pollard and then shifted gears to accelerate, as West Indies got to 269 - enough for a 24-run win. Looking back on his dismissal, Brooks felt he should have played forward rather than back to that delivery.
"Oh, words can't express," Brooks said after the match about missing out on a century. "But, at the end of the day, it was my first game, and I am still happy with the score that I got. Unfortunately, I didn't get those three figures. I wouldn't say I panicked in the nervous 90s. Some people would probably end up being a little too cautious after being set, but as we all know, it's a learning curve at this level, and I'll take this one on the chin and look to go from strength to strength.
"In hindsight, now, looking back on it, I probably should have stayed on the front foot. There was a big space or a big gap on the leg side with the field that the bowler had set, so that's the only real change I would make. Instead of going back on the back foot, pressing forward on the front foot."
Brooks had made his Test debut back in 2019, but his limited-overs career is only taking off now, with the ODI appearance coming on the back of a T20I debut last month against Pakistan.
"For me, it comes down to being able to rotate the strike in terms of the middle overs," Brooks said of his role in white-ball cricket. "We've always produced guys who can hit the ball over the rope, so for me, it's just to really come in and play my part in the middle overs - especially in a situation like today where we lost early wickets, and get the innings going again, then continue with a flurry at the back end."
Balbirnie: Really difficult to take'
While Brooks and Pollard ensured West Indies had a good score on the board, Ireland looked like they had set their chase up nicely with captain Andy Balbirnie and No. 4 Harry Tector hitting half-centuries. Ireland were 165 for 1 in 36 overs - Andy McBrine had retired hurt with a concussion - and needed 105 to win in 84 balls.
From there, though, they unravelled to be all out for 245, a defeat that left Balbirnie disappointed given so much had been done as per plan in the chase.
"The two set batters, I and Harry, got out, which certainly turned the tide a bit," Balbirnie said at the post-match presentation. "That's disappointing for myself and Harry. We talk about guys wanting to win games for their country and that was an opportunity for one of us to do that. We set up exactly the way we wanted to in the chase. That was a sort of blueprint if you like, and not to get over the line is really difficult to take at the moment, but we've got two more games to put it right.
"There was a bit of pressure building but both of us always felt in control. We felt we had that boundary option if we needed it, but we were playing so easily and there wasn't a lot on the pitch. I was obviously done with a really good slower ball and then Harry goes and it's a different game. Two new men on any wicket is never easy. They bowled well there at the back-end. We nearly snuck over at the end, but yeah, I think [I'm] still a bit rusty but a lot to look forward to for the next games."
Ireland had gone into this game without Simi Singh and Ben White, who were both awaiting the results of their RT-PCR tests after a routine Rapid Antigen Test returned a positive Covid-19 result. Both players were isolating, but the first ODI had proceeded as scheduled, with the rest of the Ireland squad and support staff returning negative results.
The uncertainty over Simi and White added to the unavailability of Paul Stirling and Shane Getkate, both of whom had tested positive before the series. While Stirling and Getkate are expected to join the squad before the second ODI, Ireland could be without Simi, White and McBrine now.
The next two ODIs are scheduled for January 11 and 14, with a lone T20I to be played on January 17.