Will Ireland or the West Indies rise to victory?

July 20th 2017 by Cricket Ireland | Other

Will Ireland or the West Indies rise to victory?

The year 2004 was a different time in Irish cricket. It was a different era in popular culture too. Facebook had only been launched in Harvard by Mark Zuckerberg, the European Union expanded by accepting 10 new countries, we were introduced to the term ‘wardrobe malfunction’ at the Superbowl halftime show and Lance Armstrong won his 6th consecutive Tour de France (subsequently to be stripped from him).

As for the Ireland cricket team? They were playing in the Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy and, on the back of defeating Surrey at Clontarf by 5 wickets, they welcomed the West Indies to Stormont on June 17th for the second of two internationals.

The Prince, the Tiger and the Universe Boss arrived on to Irish shores with their teammates, intent on fine-tuning their performance ahead of a Tri Series with England and New Zealand before the forthcoming ICC Champions Trophy. 

The Prince of Port of Spain, Brian Lara, had made his Test and ODI Debut 14 years previously and was widely recognised as one of the finest batsmen ever to pick up a blade. Shivnarine Chanderpaul, known affectionately as The Tiger, made his debut four years later in 1994 and commanded respect from bowling attacks the world over. Chris Gayle, who only recently named himself Universe Boss after some big-hitting in the IPL, was five years into his international career and another established name in the West Indies side.

Chanderpaul was the first to go however, Trent Johnston had him caught behind by Niall O’Brien for two. Then the great entertainer himself, Chris Gayle, went to the same combination for 31, leaving the Windies 46 for 2.

Devon Smith and Ricardo Powell put on a partnership of 77 for the third wicket. Smith and Darren Sammy would fall quickly however, to the third baker, John Mooney.

Ridley Jacobs – who previously had played in the North West for Eglinton as an overseas professional - and Dwayne Bravo had a fine partnership of 130 and brought the West Indies towards 300. Indeed, Bravo would carry his bat, finishing the innings on exactly 100 not out.

The last man out for the West Indies was one Brian Charles Lara. Andre Botha picking up the prize wicket for just 1, caught by substitute fielder Gary Wilson.  At the time Wilson was an 18 year-old schoolboy, who would make his debut the following year and go on to play at time of writing 238 times for his country. Robert Rankin, elder brother of internationals Boyd and David, was also used as a substitute fielder being, at the time, a member with Wilson of the U19 World Cup squad.

Lara had only come in at number 8, having scored a century the previous day in a dramatic game which saw Gordon Cooke taken to hospital in an ambulance after suffering an ankle injury, alongside his son Curtis who was struck on the head by a six hit by Lara, who presented the injured child with his batting gloves a souvenir.

However, with Bravo’s century and a score of 292 for 7, the West Indies may well have been happy with their work.

Johnston and Mooney led the Ireland bowling attack and, after the foundations were laid for him, it would be O’Brien who would guide Ireland home in the chase.

Jeremy Bray and Jason Molins set the platform by scoring at a run a ball and taking Ireland to 111 before Molins was bowled by Ravi Rampaul. That initial attacking batting, sustained the chase through the loss of Botha (15) and Peter Gillespie (25).

All the while, wicketkeeper batsman Niall O’Brien was playing the key role. His run a ball 58 alongside Andrew White’s 32 off 30 saw Ireland home with 19 balls to spare. O’Brien hit four 4s and one 6 in his 58 to go with his two catches off Johnston in the West Indies innings.

This shock might not have been quite as seismic as the defeat of the West Indies in 1969, but for the Ireland team of 2004 to defeat a team of the calibre of the West Indies XI that took the field in Stormont deserves great credit.

It was to be the last of 65 appearances in Irish colours for opening bowler Ryan Eagleson, whose two caps that season were the victories over Surrey and West Indies. The current Ireland U19 coach was clearly a lucky omen!

Johnston, Mooney and O’Brien were the key performers on that June day in 2004. Who will rise to the occasion when the West Indies once again visit Stormont? Be there to witness the next chapter in this colourful history between Ireland and the West Indies on September 13th, 2017, Game On!

Tickets for Ireland v West Indies at Stormont on September 13th are available here

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