Morgan and Rankin ruin Ireland’s day in the sun

Irish cricket’s big day was spoiled by two of its returning sons, as England beat Ireland by six wickets in the RSA Challenge at Malahide.

Morgan and Rankin ruin Ireland’s day in the sun

Derry-born Boyd Rankin took four wickets for England, and Dubliner Eoin Morgan hit an ODI career-best 124 not out as Ireland were beaten with seven overs to spare in front of a 9,500 crowd.

Ireland were arguably favourites for a first home one-day international win against a full member country at the halfway stage, after William Porterfield’s sixth ODI century helped Ireland post a competitive 269-7 in their 50 overs.

Porterfield and Morgan formed a close bond when playing together as teenagers at Rush Cricket Club, but the Ireland captain’s 112 from 144 balls was eclipsed by his best friend’s match-winning 106-ball knock.

Morgan came to the crease when England were in trouble, as Tim Murtagh and Trent Johnston reduced the visitors to 48-4 in the 15th over.

But he and Ravi Bopara rebuilt the innings on a slow and turning pitch, and put on a double-century partnership as the Ireland bowling wilted in the Malahide sun.

Bopara scored his first ever ODI century as the pair put on an unbeaten 226, the highest fifth-wicket partnership in the history of one-day international cricket.

By the end, the pair were clearing the boundary at will, with Bopara crashing a six off George Dockrell into the second tier of the pavilion and Morgan ending the game with a pulled six to the long on boundary.

Morgan was booed when he walked onto the pitch, but was given a huge ovation by the Irish crowd when he hit the six over extra cover that brought up his century.

“It was mid-afternoon in Dublin so (the booing) was maybe to be expected. But I love this place and I enjoyed the day,” Morgan said.

Ireland tied one match and lost the other from match-winning positions in the series against Pakistan in May, and Porterfield was disappointed that his side failed to close out another game against a top nation.

“The team is putting itself in winning positions against full member teams, but the frustrating thing is that we haven’t been able to get over the line in any of those three games,” Porterfield said.

The performances of Rankin, who took 4-46 in his nine overs, and Morgan once again put into focus that Ireland is prone to losing its best players to England, but Porterfield has no problem with the pair’s decision.

“If you offered me those two players in my side, I’d take them every day of the week. But they are trying to play as much international and Test cricket as they can,” Porterfield said.

“Ireland can’t offer Test cricket so you can’t hold it against them.”

Morgan feels the movement of players is an accepted part of international cricket, and points out that the Ireland team he played for between 2006 and 2009 was a multinational entity.

“(London-born) Tim Murtagh bowled out of his skin — would you take him for me in a transfer?” he asked.

“I played for the Ireland cricket team when we had three or four South Africans and two Australians, and we had no shame doing that.”

Morgan has been single-mindedly focused since his teenage years on forging a career with England, and has been criticised in the past for his failure to promote Irish cricket since he swapped countries in 2009.

However, the 26-year-old, who won the Irish Senior Cup with Malahide in 2002 as a 15-year-old, said he still hoped to be a role model for Irish cricket even when representing England. “I think Ireland cricket looks on us as a great inspiration about the way we go about our hard work. and utilising the talent we have been given. I hope that they do,” he said.

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up