Ire­land’s his­toric first Test makes its own mark

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - EM­MET RIORDAN in Malahide

Ire­land’s first Test match made his­tory of the wrong kind at Malahide yes­ter­day as it en­tered the his­tory books as the first time an open­ing day of a coun­try’s in­au­gu­ral Test has been washed out.

Wind was the big­ger prob­lem in the morn­ing, with ground­staff un­able to take off the out­field cov­ers for fear of be­ing blown into the nearby es­tu­ary, forc­ing the um­pires to call an early lunch. With winds gust­ing up to 50kph, a call was even made to Welling­ton in New Zealand, the world’s windi­est Test venue, to check on wind speed safety mea­sures.

Any chance of play ended when the rain in­ten­si­fied just af­ter 2pm, when a par­tic­u­larly nasty hail shower hit the ground. Um­pires Nigel Llong and Richard Illing­worth made the call soon af­ter their 3pm in­spec­tion, iron­i­cally just as the rain abated and the gloom lifted. Later, blue skies ap­peared and the sun came out. The dam­age was al­ready done.

The knowl­edge­able Ir­ish cricket crowd – 5,100 of the 6,300 seats had been sold for the first day – had al­ready started to head off, wet and weary, to the train sta­tion or the warmth of the Malahide hostel­ries.

“It’s ob­vi­ously bit­terly dis­ap­point­ing for ev­ery­one but the good thing is that there is another four days, so there’s plenty of op­por­tu­nity to get a match in,” said Cricket Ire­land chief ex­ec­u­tive War­ren Deu­trom, who also ad­mit­ted that de­spite the or­gan­i­sa­tion hav­ing in­sur­ance, it was only par­tial, due to the va­garies of May weather in Ire­land. Hav­ing al­ready burned more than ¤1 mil­lion on stag­ing this Test match, it’s some­thing they could have done with­out.

The sup­port­ers will all be re­funded in full as the Cricket Ire­land reg­u­la­tions only al­lowed for a re­fund if there was no play at all – a pol­icy which may be re­viewed in fu­ture ac­cord­ing to Deu­trom – but the money will be scant con­so­la­tion for the dis­ap­point­ment of miss­ing out on a piece of Ir­ish sport­ing his­tory.

Cricket Ire­land ex­pect a sell-out to­day, with just a few hun­dred tick­ets left last night, while about half of the tick­ets are sold for to­mor­row. The good news from Met Eire­ann is that the fore­cast is for some sun, with no sig­nif­i­cant rain.

To­day’s play will start at 11am, with lunch taken at 1pm. The af­ter­noon ses­sion will run from 1.40pm un­til 3.55pm be­fore the evening ses­sion gets un­der­way at 4.15pm, with stumps at 6.30pm.

De­spite no chance of play start­ing on time at 11am yes­ter­day, the large crowds still trav­elled early to make sure they would wit­ness the first Test de­liv­ery in Ire­land. The packed Darts emp­tied with ex­cited sup­port­ers who were mak­ing light of the con­di­tions. The En­ter­prise from Belfast even stopped at the sta­tion, lead­ing to a log­jam along the Dublin Road well be­fore play started.

Af­ter wait­ing all this time to take their bow at Test cricket, Ire­land’s crick­eters, and the sup­port­ers, will have to wait another day. Test cricket is all about pa­tience af­ter all.

War­ren Deu­trom: “Plenty of op­por­tu­nity to get a match in”

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