Hot on the heels of the 10 team World Cup, Ireland get a chance to prove they deserve a place at the table by giving England a scare in a Test Match.
I’ll admit, apart from the bigger names, I’m not all that familiar with the Ireland team. What does the Cricinfo preview say?
Nothing yet. I imagine that feed is automated and thrown by the lack of data.
How to appraise the Irish players who don’t have a Test track record yet? Will try two methods, and clumsily fuse them together to give a sense of how this Test might go. Firstly, there have been plenty of ODIs between Ireland and the World Cup teams. Secondly, most of the Irish players have some County experience. Many players have only played a handful of ODIs against the best teams, or county matches, so will take a weighted average of the two formats.
Now this is not a serious piece of work – it’s a one hour attempt to have some sense of what will happen in a one-off four day Test match. Hopefully it’s good enough for those purposes.
If these two squads competed in Division 1 of the County Championship in 2019, this is how I think they would fare:
Ireland have very little batting. This team would surely be the one to go down if they were playing in Division One. Note how Balbirnie and Stirling come out as the strongest batsmen – which wasn’t what I expected. I’d thought Porterfield / O’Brien / Wilson were the best they had. Good to know.
The middle overs should be a good time to bat for England. Beyond Murtagh and Rankin, Ireland will need to find 50 overs from the other bowlers. Might be some tough and wicketless spells, and a tough call for Porterfield about whether he can afford to let England pile the runs on before using his best bowlers when the second new ball is due at 80 overs.
If Ireland would average 220 odd playing in Division One, while conceding 360 when bowling, how would England get on?
Pretty much double the runs. Woakes is a better batsman than any of Ireland’s players. England can also call on seven competitive bowlers.
Roy vs Murtagh / Rankin would be a useful indicator of whether Roy can play Red Ball Test Cricket. It’s only one match, but it’s marginally better than a sample of no matches before the Ashes.
Here’s my conclusions:
- Ireland are 55-1 on Betfair to win the Test. I’ve not run the above through the model, but a <2% chance sounds about right.
- Before considering Ireland’s Test fixtures, this kind of analysis should be completed so we know what to expect. My personal view is that every effort should be made to give teams like Ireland more ODI matches against the best teams (they average four games per year against the best nine countries). Ireland might be better served playing the weaker Test nations until they have closed the gap with the top eight teams.
I don’t mean to belittle Ireland or come across as someone that’s against the development of Test Cricket – it’s just hard to expect a good contest based on the data.
Showing what a Phyrric victory gaining Test status was, there’s a piece in the Telegraph. It also has biographies of the Ireland team. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/cricket/2019/07/23/irelands-test-status-has-failed-deliver-celebrations-promised/