Saturday, 5 October 2013

The Fifteenth Post : My First Published Match Reports. Part Two.


Having made my published writing debut for CricketEurope.com in the World Cricket League Championship games between Scotland and Ireland in Stormont, with some patchy match reviews that improved with experience, I packed up my pen and paper and headed off to Dublin to follow the action in the four day Intercontinental Cup match at Clontarf.

It would be my first time at a multi innings, multi day game ever and I was excited by the prospect of watching all of it in its entirety, follow every momentum change of the match and write ever improving match reports that conveyed the flavour of the match.

I arrived in Dublin the day before the match and head straight to Supermacks for some top quality, local fast food chain, lunch time feast. I’ve been in Dublin three times now, once on my honeymoon, once for my 30th birthday and now once for the cricket and every time I just have to visit Supermacks. It’s tradition. And delicious. A lunch box for me please, wow!!! Look how many chips you get with that !!! Proper awesome !!!

After filling up to bursting point on three pieces of chicken and more chips than necessary I head out to the leafy northern city suburb of Clontarf, find my accommodation (very nice with a lovely and friendly black Labrador dog called Mayday who follows me around the place like a shadow and helps me check in) then take a wander to the cricket ground so I know exactly where I’m going tomorrow for the game.

To ground is promised to be only a 10 minute walk away but I’m still walking to it 20 minutes later but when I eventually arrive (closer to 30min than 25) its worth going as it’s a lovely ground, bathed in late afternoon sunshine.

The groundsmen is doing some final prep for the game tomorrow and a couple of youngsters are using the practice nets, one of whom turns out to be Craig Young, who will go on to make his debut for Ireland tomorrow morning.

Everything looks a picture of all things splendid in the afternoon glow and I head back to the bed and breakfast full of anticipation of a great game played in some great weather.

It’s raining when I get up the next day and I curse the gods of irony. Nevertheless I head to the ground and arrive slightly early. The security to the press box (where I have no hesitation of heading to, I am after all, a published journalist dontcha know !!!) stops me and asks if I’m the crowd? Threes nobody else in the ground at all, just me and the security guard and some drizzling rain. I laugh and say “Yeah, just me today. One man and his dog, and I couldn’t even convince my dog to come along today either. Says it’s too cold for any of this cricket thing today.” More banter, a few laughs are had before I tell him ‘Actually, I’m with the press today, so unless my dog makes an appearance later on the crowd is back down to none.’ He lets me into the press box with the knowing sigh of someone who knows that there aren’t going to be any spectators in the ground today at all, just boring officials.

In the press box there are a couple of people there already who have claimed the best view of the ground. I pull up a chair beside them and find myself sat behind a pillar which is obscuring my view of the ground. A little bit of shoogling up and slightly invading the chap next to me personal space sees my view enhanced to two thirds of the ground. Good enough, I can live with that. I turn on my computer, log onto the wifi system, set up my online auto saving (not very good) spellchecking program, and wait for play to begin.

The chap next to me turns out to be from CricInfo.com and we talk about the weather until play eventually starts three hours later.

I watch the days play then submit the match report that I had been writing through the rain breaks during the day and head home to hang out with Mayday.
 
 
And this in the text I supplied … (you can play spot the difference if you want) …

Ireland dominant over Scotland despite rain.
Adam Brook
After a gut wrenching loss in the last over of the first World Cricket League Championship match in Stormont that saw the Scots knocked out of automatic entry to the 2015 World Cup and Ireland trouncing them in the second game, the Scots would have been hoping that a change in format would bring a change in fortunes. However Scotland start this last round of the Intercontinental Cup from under the cosh too. Needing a full 20 points
to force their way into second place would put them just two point ahead of Afghanistan. With the Afghans still to play a match against lowly ranked Kenya it seems hard to imagine that, even if Scotland claim the coveted second place in this match that they would be able to hold on to it for long. It’s an unenviable position to be in. Stuck between the despair of not living up to their potential or being able to claim important finals berths and a the hard place that Irish cricket has become.
Ireland,on the other hand, are on a high. Their place in the World Cup secure, their place in the I-Cup final secure and having been awarded the World Cricket League Championship Trophy after their double wins in Stormont the only thing that could derail their train of success is overconfidence or complacency.
Or rain.
Bad weather in the morning before play saw some persistent drizzle drift across the field making no play possible before lunch.Porterfield has no county game this week so it’s a rare appearance  for him  (his first in six years) and he captains Ireland in this I-Cup match. It gives him a good position to view some of the new talent coming through for Ireland. Talent like Craig Young and Andrew McBrine who  make their debut. It’s a young and inexperienced side he leads with C Dougherty, EJ Richardson making their first class debut coming in for county pros Ed Joyce, Niall O’brien and George Dockrell.
For Scotland Hamish Gardiner makes his first class debut while Moneeb Iqbal, Matthew Cross and Alasdair Evans come in for Matt Machen and Gordon Drummond.
Ireland won the toss and elected to field in bowler friendly conditions. Play eventually started after lunch at 1:10pm with Sorensen and Young opening the bowling. And it wasn’t long before Ireland were in the wickets. Sorensen claiming Gardiner for a duck in the 3rd over of the day Young jumped in on the action three overs later when he had Coleman caught at point, flashing at a wide one but only managing to pick out the other debutant McBrine, for 12. Young was back in the wickets soon after claiming Berrington, bowled, and after 10 overs Scotland were 32/3.
Scotland needed to regroup and settle in for a long day of batting but Young had his tail up and a taste for wickets. He didn't have to wait long before he claimed Mommsen with one that swung away late to bowl him in the 12th over, the Scottish captain gone for 12.McLeod and Wallace looked to rebuild the Scottish innings but first ball after drinks Mcleod concentration slipped and he was out, caught at slip, for 12 off the bowling of O’Brien.
Scotland's ill disciplined batting continued and when Wallace was clean bowled by O’Brien shouldering arms to one that nipped back in Scotland were heading towards a disaster of being bowled out inside a single session.
In the end it was only rain that saved that ignominy for Scotland and an early tea was taken at 3:10pm with Scotland on 69/7 after 28.2 overs.
Play resumed after an extended tea break at 4:45pm with a minimum of 30 overs remaining to be bowled in the day. Ireland's desire to wrap up the tail is thwarted as Sharif and Iqbal push on to forge Scotland’s best partnership thanks to some Irish bowling that lacked penetration for the first time in the match. Their 50 partnership comes up in the 43rd over and is broken when Iqbal is bowled by McCarter, staying back to one that stayed low, for 25. Their partnership was worth 56, the previous best partnership, between McLeod and Wallace, was worth 18.
McCarter and Young team up to take the remaining wickets sharing the spoils of the day and claiming figures of 3 for 13 off 12 overs and 4 for 53 off 13.1 overs respectively to leave Scotland reeling. All out for 138 in 50.1 overs.
Sharif, batting at nine, was the top scorer with 41.
Ireland first innings begins in gloomy conditions at 6.28pm with 6 overs to be negotiated which they do with a minimum of fuss or worry. The only real note of concern comes in the second over of the Irish reply when Porterfield gets an edge through the slips for 4. A diving third slip can’t make it to the ball and although it’s too close to be called a chance it’s the only false shot of the evening. Porterfield ends the day 23 not out having showed an intent to attack from the start with some cracking shots around the ground and Stirling not out 11 providing good support.
It sets up a promising day tomorrow as Porterfield looks in good form and will want to press on for a big score against a demoralized Scotland. Ireland end the day only 103 runs behind Scotland’s below par total and at current rate will look to pass that by around lunch and then push on towards a large total in the afternoon and evening.
The only thing that looks like stopping them is rain.
Play starts tomorrow at 10:00 am to account for time lost to the rain today.

Day 2.

I arrive nice and early again and claim my seat next to cricinfo.com. lots of rain around especially in the afternoon and I have plenty of time to thank my lucky stars that I’m involved with the press for this game as I am nice and dry in a nice and warm room, hanging out with some pretty cool people sharing a laugh and a joke and plenty of talk about cricket. I remember thinking that if I was outside on a day like this, just watching from the boundary edge, being cold and wet, feeling freezing and miserable and all on my own too as there still isn’t any crowd to bother the security guard, well, if I was out there in that crap I reccon I’d be pretty pissed off right about now. As it was, I had a great time. Safe, warm, dry, chatting away. Good times even during the frustrating rain delays at the cricket. I talked to the chap from cricinfo about my love of Supermacks and he was so excited that someone from non Irish heritage had even heard of it. We told each other stories of drunkenly falling in there after nights out for that late night fast food fix and how you can’t go past their chicken lunch box for great value. I wouldn’t say that we were best mates over it, but we defiantly bonded !!!

Eventually play was abandoned late in the day and I filed this report before play was officially due to finish …
 
Despite filing this copy the earliest that I had ever managed it didn’t get put on the website until late in the afternoon the next day!!! Don’t know why.
 
Here’s what it looked like before it was published … you can play spot the difference if you like … I’ll give you one … who knew it was called “The Hokey Cokey” ? I always thought it was called the “Hokey Pokey” oh well.
 
Rain Erodes Hope.
Adam Brook
Scotland’s hopes of claiming any points in this match were fading along with the light yesterday as Ireland were untroubled in the gloom, easily knocking off 35 runs in 6 overs to reduce the first innings deficit to only 103. To start claiming any points Scotland must bowl Ireland out for less than their own first innings total of 138. A daunting challenge at the best of times but with Porterfield showing such form as last night it must be considered a nigh on impossibility.
Play was due to start at 10:00 am to make up for time lost to the weather yesterday but a wet outfield saw play pushed back to 10:30 am.
Wardlaw and Sharif opened the bowling for Scotland and both start with maidens. Wardlaw claims the breakthrough in the sixth over of the day trapping Porterfield L.B.W. to one that skidded on adding only 8 runs to his overnight score to finish with 30 and Ireland lost their first wicket on 49/1.Anderson came to the crease and Ireland looked a little jittery for a while with Scotland finding some edges but not the wickets they needed. Stirling’s class shone through and he was punishing of anything short and his 50 came up in 73 balls with eight 4’s. Moments after Stirling's milestone the umpires converged to discuss changing the ball but before they could decide on a replacement the rain arrived and the umpires called the players from the field at 11:59.
An early lunch was taken at 12:10 pm with Ireland’s score on 99/1 after 27 overs trailing Scotland by 39 runs with 9 wickets in hand in the first innings.
Lunch extend into tea and tea extended into the evening due to a game of “Rain Cover Hokey Pokey” with the persistently annoying weather that seemed intent on mocking the umpires and groundsmen every time they tried to get any cricket played on the field again.Eventually the umpires called an end to the the day at 5:45 pm after giving every chance possible for play during the long wet day.
On a day where only 21 overs of play were possible and neither team could make a proper mark on the game it is still Ireland who have the firmer grip. Scotland will find it even harder to get back into the game from this point.
The weather hasn't helped either team today but it has certainly hurt Scotland. One wonders if they were watching their last hope of claiming any points from this match washed away with the rain.
Play starts tomorrow at 10:00 am to make up for time lost to the weather today.

Day 3.

Another cold and overcast day but no rain and we get a full day of cricket. While typing up my report back at the b n’ b I take a time wasting detour through facebook. I already ‘like’ cricketeurope on facebook so I see lots of their cricket news coming through my news feed. During the course of my tour I haven’t seen any of my reports pop up and I’m beginning to wonder why this is. Perhaps they don’t think they’re good enough for the facebook massive to read or perhaps they think they are too good for the frivolity of a ridiculous time wasting implement that facebook is. But then, lo-and-behold, right there on my news feed is my report from yesterday and finally, I feel like I’ve made it !!! 


 
Yes, I know it’s silly. Yes, I know I should have felt like I had been doing good work before seeing my words pop up like that, but seeing it like this, when someone else (the editor of crickeurope, the facebook administrator) promoting an article I wrote, without any solicitation from me really buoyed my spirits.

I immediately ‘liked’ the article and shared it on my wall and then set about writing an even better match report for day three in the hope of seeing it come through my news feed the next day too.


And the text I supplied to them looked like this … (just in case you wanted to play spot the difference) …

Adam Brook
After a rain truncated day yesterday that allowed less than two hours play in the entire day Ireland were looking to press on and claim the initiative. The first landmark to pass was the team 100, up in the second ball of the day. The next landmark to overtake was the Scottish first inning total of 138. This was also conquered without a hint of trouble in the 38th over of the innings.
The first innings lead gives Ireland six points and adds to their already impressive lead on the Intercontinental cup league table and knocks Scotland’s already slim hopes of sneaking into the I-cup final out of the contest. It's the second time in a week that Ireland have crushed Scotland's dreams of progressing up the I.C.C. table rankings after knocking them out of contention for automatic qualification to the World Cup in 2015 up in Stormont.
It's been a disastrous tour for Scotland and their confidence has taken a beating and haven't even looked like being contenders on the field for large parts of the time.
With two days still remaining to be played in this match the Scots needed to pick themselves up and gain some positives to take home. The wicket of Stirling caught on the deep mid wicket boundary for 65 almost immediately after Ireland had taken the first innings lead failed to buoy the Scots in any great measure and their ground fielding was sloppy through the first session.Anderson played many stylish shots around the park before being caught at first slip off the leg spin of Iqbal’s second delivery for 56. His 50 contained five 4’s and came off 112 balls. Kevin O’Brien hit the first six of the game, and hit Iqbal out of the attack, in a bludgeoning but chancy knock of 45 before Iqbal came back into the attack twelve overs later to have him caught by Berrington at cover on a juggling attempt.
Ireland went to lunch on 239/5. 101 runs ahead of Scotland’s first innings total happy to have the lead but disappointed that some batsmen didn't go on and get some big scores after getting starts.
It was a similar story after lunch as Ireland upped the scoring tempo against Scotland’s partners in spin Haq and Iqbal. Unfortunately for Ireland their fashion of batsmen getting starts and not going on continued too as Iqbal claimed 4 for 68 from 13 overs of varying quality. Haq bowled his off spin with greater control to end with figures of 4 for 69 from 18.3 overs to bowl Ireland out for 350, a lead of 212.
In reply Scotland lost both their openers to Sorensen in a tricky mini session of six overs before tea. He found Gardiner’s edge to be caught in the slips for 6 and two balls later had Coeman trapped L.B.W. for a duck. Scotland at the tea break were 15/2 and heading for disaster.
Sorensen picked up where he left off after tea and is the main instigator of a batting collapse that saw Scotland lose five wickets for the addition of just 57. The slide was only halted by first innings top scorer Safyaan Sharif taking a stand with Majid Haq and their late innings partnership is the best of the match for Scotland adding 79 runs from 26.3 overs before Sharif is out in the last scheduled over of the day. It’s a truly remarkable catch by Porterfield that saw Sharif on his way back to the dressing room for 60 form 94 balls containing eight 4’s and one steepling 6 that brought up his half century. Porterfield diving salmon like to his left at short extra cover takes the catch in an athletic airborne dive. It’s a mark of the quality of his ability and also his endurance as he’s as agile on the last ball of the day as he is on the first.
Sharif’s wicket brought about the close of play with Scotland’s second innings total on 143/8, still trailing Ireland's first innings total by 69 runs with 2 wickets remaining.
Scotland have many questions to ask themselves regarding their performance in this match so far and how to turn things around in the future. It seems unlike that scotland will be able to chase down the remaining deficit and force Ireland to bat again and are almost certainly heading for a defeat.
The only real question at this time is if that defeat is by an innings or a slightly less crushing margin.
 
Day 4.
The best weather of the match, bright blue sky, mild to warm weather and only 40 minutes of play before the game is wrapped up !!!
Damn you irony, why do you have such a cruel sense of humour?
After a bit of chat I shake hands goodbye with some new friends and mention to my boss for these games that I’m available for selection if they need someone for the T-20 qualifiers to be held in the U.A.E. in October. But, unsurprisingly, they have those games covered.
I go back to the b n’ b, file copy, scan facebook (hey look, there’s my day three report in my news feed too!!!) pack my bags and say goodbye to a rather sad-to-see-me-go black lab called Mayday and head into town for a late lunch at Supermacks (lunch box please) before getting the bus back to Belfast to get the plane home to Edinburgh.
 
 
And the text I supplied them looks like this … (it’s your last chance to play spot the difference!!!!)
 
I-cup day 4
Adam Brook
The weather turned up for the first time in this four day game bringing bright blue skies, sunshine and some rare warmth to Clontarf for the first time in the match.
Scotland needed to bat all day to force a draw. A seemingly impossibility with only two wickets in hand and little spirit to draw on.
And It took Ireland just 40 minutes to wrap up the remaining two Scottish wickets on a sunny and warm day at Clontarf in Dublin as the best playing conditions of the match were unneeded and went unused. Irony has such a cruel sense of humor sometimes.
Wardlaw walked out to take guard, the new batsman after Sharif’s dismissal late yesterday, with Haq as company. He didn't keep company for long though and Wardlaw was the first to go, his innings lasted 7 balls before wafting at a one from Young and the edge is taken at second slip by Kevin O’Brien claiming his 100th catch for Ireland.
Sorensen was brought into the attack to claim his 5th wicket of the innings and in his fourth over claimed the last resistance for Scotland, Haq out for 37 off 122 balls with four 4’s, whose edge is taken by Kevin O’Brien for another sharp catch in the slips.
Ireland wrap up a convincing win over Scotland in less time than it takes to walk round the park  by an innings and 44 runs early on day four which, were it not for the persistent rain that dogged this match, could have easily ended much, much earlier.
Sorensen ends with 5/37 off 18.1, his best in Intercontinental Cup for Ireland with good support given by Young who finished with 2/57 off 17.
Ireland Have been supreme in this match and claim the maximum 20 points available giving them an unassailable lead in the I-Cup competition. Afghanistan have already booked their place in the final as second place qualifier no matter what the outcome of their one remaining match against Kenya still to be played in October.
If the final between these two teams, to be played in the U.A.E. in December, should end in a draw Ireland will win the Intercontinental Cup due to finishing on top of the leader board.
Although other matches remain to be played in both the I-Cup and the World Cricket League Championship Scotland will end both competitions mid table. They may well feel disappointed with their final placings but this must also be considered a true reflection of where they stand in the current world of associate cricket. Watching better teams whitewash them, on the brink of being overtaken by lesser nations.
It’s also a true reflection of where Ireland are too. Top of the associate nation pile by quite some distance, chipping away at the glass ceiling to the full members.

I arrive home and am thrown straight back into work at my day job. Plenty of hours need to be done too and I’m happy to do them all to build back up some of the funds that this trip cost me. Not everyone knows what I’ve been doing for the last 10 days so I have a great time telling them all about my trip, my reports and my experience. I try not to brag about it too much or sound too smug but it’s difficult when you’ve had such a great time and are actually proud of what’s been achieved.

It’s been about a month as I write this since these games took place and looking back over the reports I can see that some of them could do with been laid out a bit better, spotting the odd clunky turn of phrase and to keep an eye on my tenses.

Past tense is always best.
Probably the best advice I was given while on the tour.
It’s something to keep in mind for next time. And hopefully there will be a next time.

I’ve developed a taste for it now.

 

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