David Willey took his maiden international five-wicket haul including four in his first 3.3 overs to leave Ireland reeling at 28 for 5 in the first post-lockdown ODI at the Ageas Bowl, before debutant Curtis Campher’s fighting half-century dragged them up to 172 all out.
Eoin Morgan opted to bowl first in England’s first ODI on home soil since the World Cup final last year, primarily to chase under the lights on a good batting pitch rather than in expectation of early success.
But in their first meaningful game since March, Ireland’s top order collapsed, leaving Campher to haul them towards a competitive total thanks to his unbeaten 59 from No. 7, with Andy McBrine for support.
Willey had not played for England since May 2019, after being left out of their World Cup squad at the last minute to accommodate Jofra Archer’s inclusion, but said in the build-up to this series that he felt refreshed after a winter off.
His method here was simple, bowling slightly full of a length to give the ball the chance to swing late. In fact, he seamed the ball more than he swung it, getting it to nip off the pitch rather than through the air. Paul Stirling was the first man to go, chipping to midwicket to an inswinger, before captain Andy Balbirnie was sucked into a drive and edged a ball that nibbled away to slip.
Two early wickets would usually mean the experienced William Porterfield walking out at No. 4 for Ireland, but Balbirnie had opted instead to give 20-year-old Harry Tector a 50-over debut, leaving his predecessor as captain out of the side as he missed his first ODI since 2014. But it proved to be a difficult start on debut, as Tector fell for a nine-ball duck, chopping on against Saqib Mahmood when cramped for room.
Gareth Delany, whose high-handed backlift and big-hitting exploits in club and provincial cricket catapulted him into international contention last year, realised there was little point hanging about, whacking four boundaries and edging another through Roy in the slips.
But he failed to turn his start into a meaningful contribution as he slashed Willey straight to backward point for 22. Lorcan Tucker looked to have survived a tight lbw shout first ball, but England reviewed successfully to leave Ireland in all sorts at 28 for 5.
The rebuilding job was left to two men at opposite ends of their careers: Kevin O’Brien in his 134th ODI innings, and Campher in his first. Campher’s inclusion had raised some eyebrows in Ireland – he has never played a competitive game there, and declared for them earlier this year through his mother’s passport – but his pedigree for South Africa U-19s and impressive from in the nets was enough for Balbirnie to throw him straight in.
They added 51 in 14.4 overs to give Ireland some hope of putting themselves into a position to accelerate late up towards a competitive score, but O’Brien picked out long-off trying to whack Adil Rashid for a straight six and four balls later Simi Singh inexplicably ran himself out to leave them 79 for 7.
In Campher’s only previous List A game in an Ireland shirt, he had come in at 100 for 6 for the Wolves on their A-team tour to Namibia in February and dragged them up to 228 with a rearguard half-century. He performed a similar role here, rarely attacking after three early boundaries and instead looking to play Rashid out as best he could.
McBrine, in at No. 9, decided to free his arms while Campher continued to tick over, whacking Moeen Ali down the ground for six before hitting Tom Curran for three boundaries, but with the partnership sitting on 66 he went one time too many, pulling him to Sam Billings at deep square leg who took a good catch running in.
Barry McCarthy was the ninth man out, caught at deep square leg off Mahmood, and Craig Young holed out to mid-off running back to give Willey his five-for.
Ireland vs England
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