Dublin: When you’ve waited as long as Ireland have to play your first Test match, another day’s delay may not seem that significant.
Yet there was no denying the disappointment at a wet and windy Malahide ground in Dublin as rain meant play was abandoned without a ball bowled on Friday’s opening day of Ireland’s inaugural Test, against Pakistan.
By the time the umpires ended proceedings for the day at 3:00pm local time (1400 GMT), there were just a few hardy souls at a ground where temporary stands had increased the capacity to 6,300, with 5,100 seats pre-sold for the day.
With cruel irony, no sooner had English umpires Richard Illingworth and Nigel Llong abandoned play then the sun broke through the grey skies, with Ireland the first country to see their opening day in men’s Test cricket history — which dates back to an 1877 Australia-England clash at Melbourne — washed out completely.
Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom said Friday’s abandonment would see the national governing body lose 75,000 euros, having announced before the fixture that the cost of staging the match would be “around one million euros”.
– ‘Massive pride’ –
But with 4,000 seats already sold for Saturday, Deutrom was hopeful that forecasts of better weather were accurate.
“There was a huge sense of excitement and anticipation about today, and a massive sense of pride,” he said.
“As we were getting to half two, three and the rain was hammering down, even if suddenly it had cleared and the guys said, ‘Let’s get out there for a number of overs at five o’clock’, it probably would have been an inappropriate, underwhelming way to have started our bow in Test cricket.
“If we can get some walk up with good weather (on Saturday), hopefully it will be a more appropriate environment to start our first ball in Test cricket,” he added.
“Of course it’s disappointing but what I don’t want to do is go around with a massive long face, projecting misery because it isn’t that.
“We’re still hugely proud.”
That Ireland have come a long way in a relatively short space of time can be seen from looking at the life of leading batsman Ed Joyce, now on the threshold of a Test cap, who as a boy was physically attacked as a boy just for carrying a cricket bat.
Yet while many Irish sports fans are starting to get acquainted with cricket, the sport has deep roots in the “Emerald Isle”.
There are records of cricket being played in Ireland as early as 1731.
But the sport’s reputation suffered from being seen as the creation of English “colonisers”.
Ireland first made the rest of the cricket world take notice when they skittled out the West Indies, reputed to have enjoyed some typically generous Irish hospitality the night before, for just 25 on their way to a win at Sion Mills in 1969.
They made an even bigger global splash when they knocked Pakistan out of the 2007 one-day international World Cup tournament with a stunning St Patrick’s Day win at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica.
But the joy in defeating Pakistan — as well as Bangladesh — in 2007 was eclipsed four years later, when England were beaten in a World Cup match in Bangalore.
That success redoubled Irish ambitions to play five-day Test cricket, still regarded as the sport’s supreme format.