16 The Daily Telegraph Friday 18 September 2020 *** Sport Final whistle “Thanks, as we said before, to the West Indies, Pakistan and Australia for visiting,” he said, before Mike Atherton prompted him: “And Ireland.” “And Ireland, too,” Bumble continued, recovering from his play and miss before, by way of compensation, giving them geographical context, “from across the water.” I am not sure why Ireland’s has become the forgotten series of the summer. Maybe it is because as a cricketing country they are still not taken particularly seriously (though they have won a T20 away to West Indies and lost an ODI against them only on the penultimate ball this year). Maybe, just as a 0-0 football friendly against Brazil is likely in our own minds to be more memorable than a 7-0 thrashing of Moldova, games against old rivals Australia or West Indies are always going to carry more clout. Maybe it is because Ireland are not regarded as a regular Testplaying side, a mistake England made last year in a one-off Test, when they were bowled out in the first innings for 85. Maybe we just have short memories. But in their final ODI against England at the Ageas Bowl, Paul Stirling (142 – the highest ODI score of the summer) and captain Andrew Balbirnie (113) chased down England’s 328 to win by seven wickets in the last over. Had the Spanish Armada ever managed to pepper the English Marcus Armytage Cherish Ireland’s part in helping rescue summer fleet in the Solent with cannonballs as Ireland’s No1 and No3 batsmen peppered that strait with cricket balls, this might be a column about bull fighting. It must surely be on the shortlist of games of the summer. Ireland may not be much further away than “across the water” but getting here was not without its problems; for starters, because, like rugby, the side are made up of players from the Republic and Northern Ireland, and as each country had different Covid rules, they were unable to train together. In 1972, the Scotland and Wales rugby teams refused to play Ireland in Dublin in the Five Nations because it was at the height of the Troubles. But in February 1973, John Pullin, the outstanding hooker and the first captain of England to beat New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, took his England team to Dublin. When England jogged on to the pitch at Lansdowne Road, it struck a chord with the Irish crowd and they were given a five-minute standing ovation. England lost the game 18-9 but at the post-match dinner in his captain’s speech, Pullin said modestly: “We might not be the best team in the world – but at least we turn up.” The reasons may be very different but there are echoes of those words with the Ireland cricket team; they may not be the best in the world but, in a difficult summer, at least they turned up. P erhaps with the exception of Liverpool fans, if 2020 is going to be remembered in Britain for any sport, it will be the international cricket, which, between Southampton and Manchester, has sustained and entertained us from July until September. Coming from a racing correspondent, that is in no way meant to denigrate the sport of kings, but if racing has lacked one thing this year it has been a lower tier to give its best horses, such as Enable, Ghaiyyath, Love and Battaash, serious competition to their odds-on processions. There was a slightly poignant moment on Sky at the end of the final one-day international of the season on Wednesday night, as the home team respectfully “fistbumped” the series victors, Australia, when David “Bumble” Lloyd paid heartfelt appreciation, I felt on behalf of us all, to the teams who have gone beyond the call of duty to make this truncated summer so memorable. Readers’ letters England’s need for a specialist keeper and praise for ECB Dropping selection clanger Respecting Lawes There is much discussion of our batsmen’s records after England’s latest one-day match against Australia. Why does no one question the fact that, of the three wicketkeepers in the side, the worst of them was behind the stumps and yet again dropped a chance that effectively lost us the match? Is Jos Buttler above criticism as a keeper? Sportsmen and women often get into hot water when they start expressing views far removed from their day job. But what a load of refreshing common sense from rugby forward Courtney Lawes (Sept 17). Dr Martin Henry, Good Easter, Essex Driven to distraction Richard Holroyd, Cambridge When I was taught to play golf very many years ago, my teaching pro placed great emphasis on plotting a way round the course and learning how to shape the ball to get out of tricky situations, arts negated by modern layouts lending themselves to simply smashing a driver off the tee without drastic penalty. For this reason, I look forward to the US Open – I’m sure the best “golfer” will win. chatter. Oh, my Arlotts and my Benauds long ago! Once again the adage proves true: when will England learn that a specialist spinner needs a specialist wicketkeeper, even more so in ODIs where runs are key. Malcolm Hamer, London Cricket shows the way Brian Strand, Aylesbury The ECB deserves the highest praise for surmounting massive logistical challenges to stage international cricket this summer. The players have responded splendidly with cricket of the highest quality – edge-of-your-seat stuff at times in all formats, so good the absence of spectators was hardly noticed. Matches were played in great spirit. What a contrast to the posturing of so many organisations, sporting and other, whining and weeping into their begging bowls. Holding calls it wrong Michael Holding’s criticism of the England and Australia teams for not taking a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement is inappropriate. Such an action is a matter for the individual conscience, not a duty. The letter in last Friday’s about the lost art of commentary also struck a resounding chord in relation to Holding, whose commentary invariably consists of continuous Andrew Barratt, Bellingdon, Bucks Please send us your views on sport and our coverage to the Sports Editor, The Daily Telegraph, 111 Buckingham Palace Rd, SWIW 0DT. Or email sportletters@telegraph. co.uk. Please include your postal address. We will publish the best each week. Telegraph Roger Chappell, Coventry
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