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PCA shock Ireland with warm up victory

Ireland meet the West Indies in the first of two World T20 warm-up matches between the teams tomorrow and they will have to up their game if they are to be competitive.

Maybe it was venue, a sleepy hollow in the Buckinghamshire countryside, the property of the late John Paul Getty, but Ireland’s display lacked an intensity and energy so vital in hectic Twenty20 matches.

This match never got out of the starting blocks and only John Mooney, not even certain to play in the first match of the competition proper at Trent Bridge, rose above the mediocre with the bat as a PCA Masters XI restricted Ireland to 139 for nine.

The Masters XI is what it says on the label, a side made up of mostly retired ex-county professionals. Yes, they did have six former England players but Darren Gough, captain on the day, Phil De Freitas, Martin Bicknell, Peter Such, Jason Gallian and Mark Alleyne’s best days are long behind them.

They were boosted by Kieron Pollard, a member of the West Indies side who defeated Scotland by 14 runs in the first match of the day, and it was no coincidence that he ended up top scorer, 43 not out, sprinting the final run to give the Masters a six wickets win with four balls to spare.

The various comings and goings in the opposition line-up obviously did nothing for the Irish side’s concentration. It can be their only excuse.

For example Reinhardt Strydom, again left out of the Ireland team, was named in the Masters’ starting XI and Andrew Poynter, also omitted to accommodate the return of Boyd Rankin, was a substitute fielder who came in to bat at No 5 against his international team-mates.

He scored only four from seven balls but shared a fourth wicket partnership of 45 with Pollard who faced the other 19 balls in the partnership, the Irishman happy to give the big West Indian the strike, much to the displeasure of Alex Cusack who disappeared for 18 in the 17th over. This over effectively won the game for the Masters.

Apart from Mooney, whose 57 came off 43 balls with seven fours and a six, it was not a particularly good day for anyone in the Irish team but Fintan McAllister did himself no favours dropping Strydom on 12 — Reine doubled that score — and by the end was conceding byes from deliveries by Rankin that the batsmen were happy to leave.

At least Rankin bowled with pace and bounce which should be an asset in the finals but Alex Cusack had another disappointing time at the ‘death’ and Connell’s two overs cost 25.

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