Reflecting on an historic tour: Ireland Under-19s Men historic first-ever win over England Under-19s
The Ireland Under-19s Men have returned home from a 12-day tour of England where they played five fixtures against top-class opposition – and recorded a first-ever victory over England Under-19s Men along the way.
The squad was based at the ECB Loughborough Centre of Excellence where they made full use of the world-class training facilities. On the playing front, the Irish touring side played against Warwickshire Academy, England Under-19s Men and an England Under-19 Invitational XI.
The undoubted highlight of the tour was Ireland’s win in the first Official One-Day Youth International over England. Having batted superbly to post 333-5 from 50 overs, the Irish bowling attack completed the task at hand and bowled the hosts out for 261. The historic win is potentially Ireland’s finest-ever performance in youth cricket, being the first time Ireland had played an official Youth ODI outside of a World Cup or direct preparation just prior to a World Cup. Before this win, the closest Ireland Under-19s Men had come to beating England was when Eoin Morgan was captain at the 2006 ICC World Cup, where a brave Irish side lost by just four runs.
Captain Philippe Le Roux reflected on the tour and performance:
“Having the opportunity to play such strong sides in preparation for our World Cup was massive for our group. After two tough warm up games we were able to refocus and take a lot of confidence out of competing with quality opposition.
“It was a privilege for the squad to get the chance to work with sport psychologist Niall O’Donoghue who got us in the right frame of mind to attack our first game against the second best Under-19 team in the world. Following on from our warm-up games, the coaching staff made a massive effort in giving us ideal preparation in the three days leading into the series.
“The intensity and focus of our preparation in the build-up off the pitch with meetings and in training sessions translated as soon as we stepped onto the pitch. The result was a huge bonus showing we can beat such strong sides and not just compete. I am so proud to be part of this group and it has given us huge confidence heading towards Sri Lanka. We have all recognised what our potential is when we come together and buy into the same goals and values. It is the best squad I have ever been a part of with all aspects considered and that is huge in giving us belief that we can raise our standards and go far in the World Cup come January.”
Head Coach Peter Johnston also reflected on the performance:
“I said to the players after the game that when I was sat watching Ryan and Jordan set the game up so confidently with the bat at the start of our innings, it was the proudest I had ever felt about Irish Cricket. The fact that we were unfortunately without two key players through injuries to all-rounder John McNally and opening bowler Reuben Wilson added to that pride, because it showed the depth we have in this squad.
“In recent years our Academy, essentially U23s have played England U19s earning their respect – but now for our U19s to go head-to-head with their Under-19s in an official Youth ODI series and win a game shows the great progress we are making. Pathway Manager Albert van der Merwe deserves a huge amount of credit - his commitment and ingenuity in providing the best opportunities and support for all our national boys and girls to develop with comparatively lesser resources at his disposal is second to none. The squad are showing excellent team values and can all be proud of this result and the progress they are making. I’m excited to see where the team goes from here, we want to build on the legacy we left at the last Under-19 World Cup by reaching the Plate Final and we will be aiming very high when we get to Sri Lanka in January.”
Recap of the Ireland Under-19s Men’s win
Ireland compiled a very competitive score of 333 for the loss of just 5 wickets. The innings was well set up by openers Ryan Hunter and Jordan Neill who got the innings off to the ideal start putting on 98 by the 16th over up to the fall of the first wicket. Gavin Roulston then controlled the innings adding a further 50-partnership with Jordan Neill - who departed for a well-made 77.
Roulston was eventually caught behind in the 47th over having scored 73. However, by maintaining wickets on a very good pitch, the platform was set for Scott Macbeth who played the stand out innings of 90 not out off just 48 balls with 8 fours and 6 sixes, supported by Carson McCollough who finished on 23 not out off just 10 balls. An incredible 143 runs came in the last 10 overs, giving Ireland momentum going into the field after the break.
Ireland made a breakthrough in the first over removing Henry Rogers through a catch at midwicket off a high-paced short ball from Mathew Weldon. Opening bowler Oli Riley also threatened and was unlucky not to take a wicket. While England kept up with the required rate, Ireland continued to field well and take wickets through the phases of the game thanks largely to the off spin of Jordan Neill and left-arm spin of Daniel Forkin. Keshana Fonseka played an excellent innings of 121 off 112 balls and it was not until Forkin had him caught in the 42nd over that Ireland could relax and soon close the game off for a win by 72 runs.
Soon after the match, the sounds of “Ireland’s Call” echoed around the Haslegrave Ground as the squad gave a proud rendition from the dressing room, much to the delight of the teams large travelling support.