It might have been different had Ireland bowled as well as they batted, but in reality this was not a game Ireland lost, but Holland won. They were devastating with the bat facing a daunting 190 to win, and secured it within 14 overs to pip Zimbabwe on run rate to win the group. It was totally deserved after an amazing onslaught that will live long in the memories of those present, especially the Ireland team.
The match started off well with Ireland batting superbly to reach 189-4 thanks to a fine half-century from Andrew Poynter (57), William Porterfield (47), Kev O’Brien (42no) and Ed Joyce (28). It looked enough at the halfway stage, albeit the good track and small boundaries left the door open for the Dutch if they rose to the occasion. And did they ever?
Right from the start of the reply openers Borren and Myburgh set about the Irish bowlers with total aggression, and although skipper Borren (31) fell in the sixth over the score was a staggering 91 at the time. Myburgh (63) lead the charge with seven sixes and four fours blasting Andy McBrine and Alex Cusack out of the attack after two painfully costly overs. But there was no respite for any of the bowlers as the Dutch batsmen had a clear focus on winning within 14 overs as opposed to winning-they played like they was never in doubt about reaching their target!
Barresi (40no) continued the carnage, but it was Tom Cooper (45 off 15 balls) who brought the victory within reach with an amazing onslaught. At one stage he hit Dockrell for four successive sixes and looked like joining the elite “Six Sixes” Club. The bigger and further he hit the ball the deeper the pain became for Ed Joyce who dropped him early in his innings. Would it have changed the pattern of the game? Highly unlikely, given the way the other batsmen played and while focus may centre on Joyce’s lapse he’s not the first player to drop a catch and he wasn’t bowling when all the boundaries were hit. This result was not about a dropped catch it was about devastating batting and the will to win against the odds. The six-wicket victory was achieved with another whopping six in the 13th over followed by a pitch invasion by the jubilant Dutch squad. It was their day and who could deny them their wild celebrations?
Stephen Myburgh was named Man-of-the-Match and a shell-shocked Ireland team retuned to the changing-room trying to grasp the reality of what had happened. It was arguably the most punitive batting in the history of international Twenty20 cricket and with 19 sixes one of several records broken. It will take time for the Irish players to banish the memory of such a pounding, but Twenty20 cricket is all about power batting and on this occasion they were dumped by an outstanding display from the Dutch batsmen.
Let’s give credit where it is due and take comfort from the early wins. There will always be good days for all the bad days.