After covid-19 disrupted the first leg of their Tour in the United States, Ireland return to action against the West Indies, who will be looking to warm-up ahead of England’s forthcoming visit. As always, we here at LWOC will be offering our preview and prediction of this first West Indies vs Ireland ODI, but who will come out on top?
West Indies vs Ireland First ODI Preview and Prediction
Ireland had been due to play three ODI’s against the USA before covid-19 outbreaks put paid to those plans. As a result, they have not played a match in this format since drawing at home with Zimbabwe in September. They have played a handful of T20s, however, but with middling results. Defeats to Sri Lanka and Namibia saw their World Cup campaign come to a disappointing end and they suffered a historic loss at the hands of the USA in the first match of their tour, though they did avenge that defeat in the second game.
The West Indies, meanwhile, were last in action against Pakistan. It proved to be a frustrating tour for the men in maroon as they lost all three T20s, despite posting 207 in the final match, before the three ODIs they had been meant to play were called off due to a covid-19 outbreak in the squad. As a result, they too are short of 50-over match practice, having not played in this form of the game since losing a three-match series at home to Australia in July.
Ireland’s line-up has been affected by covid, with the big news that opening batter Paul Stirling will miss out. Losing nearly 5000 ODI runs would be a blow to any side, but it may be particularly acutely felt by Ireland, who do not have particularly deep reserves of talent for a full-member side. In his absence, expect William Porterfield and captain Andy Balbirnie to bat at the top of the order, with Andy McBrine and Harry Tector coming in at three and four.
Curtis Campher will likely bat at five with Lorcan Tucker at six. He will also have the gloves. The experienced Simi Singh will provide a spin-bowling option as well as some handy lower-order batting if called upon, with the team potentially rounded out by Mark Adair, Barry McCarthy, Craig Young and Josh Little. It is not a side blessed with massive amounts of experience, but one that will have high hopes of impressing in what remains a relatively rare outing.
The West Indies will be without Shimron Hetmyer, with the batsman failing a pre-series fitness test, which has done little to endear him to the coaching staff. Even in his absence, however, there is plenty of quality in this West Indies side. Shai Hope remains one of the foremost batters in this format with Shamarh Brooks providing him with a capable partner at the top of the order. Devon Thomas could also be in line for his first appearance in an ODI since 2013.
Batting all-rounder Roston Chase seems likely to play whilst Nicholas Pooran will most likely take the gloves. The West Indies are well-stocked with hard-hitting middle-order batters who can also contribute with the ball. That includes captain Kieron Pollard and Jason Holder, whilst Alzarri Joseph has also improved his batting. Akeal Hossain, meanwhile, will be hoping to continue his impressive white-ball form, although finger-spinner Gudakesh Motie may also feature.
Ireland have spent much of the last two years bemoaning their lack of cricket and they are right to. They are a full-member of the ICC, with the Test status that carries with it, but they are rarely treated as such by the international game. It is certainly not acceptable that they have played only three Test matches, the most recent of which came in 2019. Ultimately, they simply aren’t given the chance to play enough cricket and they struggle to improve as a result.
The West Indies have been an exception to that, with the sides having met 12 times. For reference, Ireland have only played against England on 13 occasions. Unfortunately, it has not been a particularly competitive rivalry. Ireland have won just once, back in 2015, and there doesn’t seem to be much reason to expect a different result this time around. The West Indies are not the force they once were in the international game, but they should have too much for Ireland here.
Prediction: West Indies win.