Somerset’s George Dockrell spun Ireland to an innings victory over the UAE in the opening match of the ICC InterContinental Cup campaign.
Left-arm spinner Dockrell took four top-order wickets for 95 runs in the UAE’s second innings, including both openers. He finished with match figures of 7-141 as Ireland collected the 20 maximum points on offer and moved to joint top of the table with their next opponents, Namibia.
The InterContinental Cup is crucially important for the associate nations like Ireland as it offers a potential path to Test cricket.
Ireland’s victory at Malhaide, Dublin (2-5 June) was built on the foundations of a record-breaking innings of 231 from Ed Joyce – the highest individual score for Ireland – overtaking Eoin Morgan’s score of 209.
Joyce plundered the beleaguered Emirati attack to all parts of the picturesque Malahide ground, smashing 29 fours and 3 sixes in his 232-ball stay.
Together with Paul Stirling (146), the left-hander put on 231 runs for the second wicket. Such was the dominance of Joyce that he scored 229 runs out of 420-3 which the home side amassed on day one of the four-day first-class match.
Ireland were bowled out just before lunch for 492 on day two, Dockrell (22*) and former Somerset T20 player Kevin O’Brien (29) sharing a brief, but entertaining stand of 35 for the eighth wicket.
When the visitors batted, Dockrell and Ireland fast bowler Craig Young both returned match figures of seven wickets apiece as the UAE were skittled for 213 and 253. Dockrell was responsible for an important breakthrough in the second innings when he removed the dangerous-looking Swapnil Patil for 63 – stumped by Gary Wilson – who had shared a century stand with Saqib Ali.
Afterwards, Ireland captain William Porterfield praised the efforts of Dockrell. “It was a pretty flat and slow pitch as the game went on. Great that George Dockrell picked up his reward with seven wickets. He had to bowl 60 overs which wasn’t the plan, but it allowed me to rotate the seamers.”
The InterContinental Cup was designed to allow Associate Members of the ICC the chance to play first-class cricket matches against teams of similar skill in a competition environment and prepare them for eventual promotion to Test cricket status.
This year’s tournament has added significance as the winners will play the bottom ranked full-member in a four Test challenge.
Ireland have won the competition a record four times and are the current defending champions.
They face Namibia in the next round of the competition later in the year.
Before then, the Irish have a T20 International Series against traditional rivals Scotland at Bready, on June 18, 19, and 21. As we reported on The Incider yesterday, Somerset’s Josh Davey has been included in the Scotland squad for that series.