England 174 for 4 (Billings 67 *, Morgan 36 *) defeated Ireland 172 (Campher 59 *, McBrine 40, Willey 5-30) by six goals
David Willey’s first international five-for-player, including four wickets in his first 3.3 overs, set the tone before Sam Billings’ undefeated 67s sealed a comfortable England win over Ireland in the first ODI after the Ageas Bowl lockdown.
Debutant Curtis Campher’s struggling half-century had brought Ireland to 172 after Willey’s early breakout before England got into trouble at 78 for 4, but Billings’ flowing half-century led to victory, leaving all 22.1 overs.
The environment could hardly have been more different than England’s last ODI on home soil. Last year’s World Cup final at Lord’s seemed a world away from the biosecure bubble near Southampton. Despite the music still roaring across borders and wickets, the absence of fans from an international limited-overs team was higher than during the test series against the West Indies, not least because the broadcasters chose not to make artificial crowd noise to exaggerate.Ireland had been at home for almost two weeks after training in small groups, but its top spot collapsed dramatically in its first competitive game since March, falling to 5 to 28 after 6.3 overs, thanks largely to Willey.
Willey hadn’t played for England since May 2019 after being last-minute excluded from the World Cup squad to allow Jofra Archer’s admission, but said ahead of this series that he felt refreshed after a winter break. His method here was simple: bowling slightly full length to give the ball a chance to move too late.READ ALSO: Bairstow plays the Bob Willis Trophy as a push for the test recall
Paul Stirling was the first man to go into midfield on an inswinger before captain Andy Balbirnie was dragged into a ride and folded a ball that nibbled to slip. 20-year-old debutant Harry Tector soon followed for a nine-ball duck that faced Saqib Mahmood when space was running out.
Gareth Delany, whose haughty backlift and his great club and provincial cricket achievements catapulted him into international clashes last year, realized that there was little point in crossing four boundaries and slipping another one through Roy.But he failed to turn his start into a meaningful contribution when he met Willey directly on the reverse for 22. Lorcan Tucker seemed to have survived a close first ball, but England successfully tested to leave Ireland 28-25.
Reconstruction was left to two men at the other end of their careers: Kevin O’Brien in his 134th ODI inning and Campher in his first. Campher’s admission raised a few eyebrows in Ireland – he had never played a competitive game there and only signed up for them earlier this year – but his family tree for the U-19 national team in South Africa and his impressive network performance was enough for Balbirnie to throw it straight in.
They added 51 in 14.4 overs to give Ireland hope of being able to accelerate late to a competitive result late, but O’Brien opted for a long attempt at Adil Rashid for six and four balls later inexplicably beating Simi Singh he ran out to leave her 79 for 7.
Campher struggled for 118 balls and for most of three hours in his desperate attempt to support things. He rarely attacked three early boundaries and instead tried to play Rashid as well as possible. Andy McBrine, in 9th place, decided to free his arms while Campher continued to tick and hit Moeen on the floor six times before hitting Tom Curran for three boundaries, but he went one step too much with the 66th partnership. He pulled him to Billings by the deep, square leg that made a good catch.
Barry McCarthy was the ninth man to be caught by Mahmood’s deep, square leg, and Craig Young headed back to give Willey his five-for-five.
McCarthy went five balls into the first round of the chase with a knee injury and left Ireland without his main punch bowler, but they still made an early breakthrough. McBrine was hired early and had Bairstow lbw inspected with a regulatory outbreak that Bairstow initiated and failed.
Jason Roy seemed to find some fluency after a scratchy start when he carted McBrine for six and then hit for four consecutive Young balls, one over the inside edge. But Young replied to egg with a nip backer