England 334 for 8 (Jacks 94, Hain 89, Dockrell 3-43) beat Ireland 286 (Dockrell 43, Young 40, Rehan 4-54) by 48 runs
Will Jacks and Sam Hain provided the ballast with the bat, before Rehan Ahmed served up a touch of class with the ball, as England’s rookies overcame their collective nerves – and George Scrimshaw’s in particular – to seal a comfortable 48-run victory in the second ODI against Ireland at Trent Bridge.
With England’s World Cup-bound 15 all absent from this contest – including Joe Root, who had been lined up to play in Wednesday’s wash-out at Headingley but is now resting up with the rest of the squad – the XI that took the field boasted a skinny tally of 48 caps all told, including four debutants. And of those, two in particular will have emerged with indelible memories … most of them good, in the end.
For Hain, it was an occasion he must have thought would never come. At the age of 28, his towering List A average – 57.96 across a ten-year career – had for so long seemed inversely proportional to his prospects of breaking into a generationally strong England white-ball set-up. But with the big guns away, he latched onto his chance with a sturdy knock of 89 from 82 balls, as did Jacks at the top of the order, who reinforced the sense that he could be Jason Roy’s long-term heir with a fluent knock of 94 from 88.
Between them, the pair topped and tailed a total of 334 for 8 that, while imposing, understandably lacked a degree of cohesion, with no-one quite cutting loose except while Jacks and Phil Salt were briefly running riot in the powerplay.
In the end it was ample – and it would have been a vastly more emphatic margin had it not been for a feisty tenth-wicket stand of 55 between Craig Young and Josh Little that again highlighted their opponents’ unavoidable naivety. But, for four agonising overs at the start of their reply, Ireland looked on course to exceed their successful 329-run chase at the Ageas Bowl in 2020, as Scrimshaw endured a bout of stage fright that brought to mind Scott Boswell’s attack of the yips in the 2001 C&G Trophy final.
Scrimshaw’s troubles started from his very first delivery. Though he used his 6’7″ frame to pound out a tidy length with a hint of shape away from Andrew Balbirnie, he was pinged by the third umpire for a front-foot no-ball, then overstepped again with his third attempt, with Balbirnie crashing the resultant free hit hard over the covers for four.
An anomaly was starting to look like a problem when Scrimshaw overstepped for the third time in the over, and matters reached crisis point when, having thought he’d escaped with no further damage, he was dragged back to bowl a tenth delivery having already taken his cap. Paul Stirling duly belted the ball back past his head for another four to leave Scrimshaw nursing a 17-run debut over, and Zak Crawley, England’s rookie captain, had a significant man-management issue on his hands.
George Scrimshaw bagged his second as Lorcan Tucker holed out to midwicket•AFP/Getty Images
To Crawley’s credit, he trusted his bowler to go again, but Ireland sensed a weakness and set about probing it without mercy. With Scrimshaw’s legs turning to jelly, Stirling spanked two fours from his first four legal balls, then butchered an uppercut over extra cover for six as he overstepped for a sixth time in what should have been 11 balls.
In between whiles, however, Scrimshaw’s natural attributes continued to pose awkward questions, and finally he got it all just right – a perfect off-stump line with extra bounce to Balbirnie which Ben Duckett scooped up low at slip, a position that a less attack-minded captain than Crawley might have already abandoned.
Still there was an anxious wait for confirmation that the delivery was legal, but eventually the all-clear came from on high, and Scrimshaw looked as though he was about to vomit with relief, as even umpire Rod Tucker stepped across to England’s huddle for a congratulatory pat of his shoulder.
Either way, his first two overs had still disappeared for 35 to give Ireland a flying start to their chase, but one ball later, Matthew Potts – exuding the air of an old sweat – produced an unplayable nipbacker to ping the top of Stirling’s middle stump, then followed up soon afterwards with the key scalp of Curtis Campher, Ireland’s new No.3.
After a short break to collect his thoughts, Scrimshaw returned in the 11th over for a vastly more self-assured spell. He duly bagged his second of an eventful hour, courtesy of Duckett’s flying grab at midwicket as Lorcan Tucker mistimed a pull, and at 103 for 4, Ireland’s innings was on the slide.
Thereafter it was over to Rehan, with a mesmeric mid-innings burst of googlies. Cunningly, he had held the delivery back during his wicketless first three overs, but the floodgates opened when Harry Tector miscued the first wrong’un he encountered and Jacks, at mid-off, clung onto a brilliant sprawling catch, running back towards the boundary.
Andy McBrine was then done all ends up by a Rehan googly that straightened into his off stump from round the wicket, and one over later Mark Adair had no read on the delivery either, as Rehan pinned him on the knee-roll. Dockrell took some lumps out of his analysis with a brace of lusty sixes, but he too succumbed to the googly for a doughty 43 from 54, as Phil Salt swooped at long-on to make Rehan, at 19 years and 41 days, the youngest England bowler to claim four wickets in an ODI.
Rehan Ahmed celebrates with his team-mates after dismissing Andy McBrine•AFP/Getty Images
Rehan’s performance was a reminder of the true value of this contest to England – a chance for the coming men to gain experience, and make their mark ahead of the inevitable rebuild that is looming after the likes of Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes and Adil Rashid have had their last dance at next month’s World Cup.
And from the moment they were asked to bat first, England’s opening exchanges were dominated by two openers with clear designs on a more permanent ODI berth. Salt, somewhat outspoken last week about his place in the pecking order, opened his account with two fours in his first three balls; Jacks trumped that with three in his first four, and for a time thereafter, Ireland looked like being overwhelmed in a typical Trent Bridge-style blizzard of strokeplay.
Young’s introduction, however, offered some much-needed order. After signs of swing in his first over, he lured Salt into a loose drive to short cover with the first ball of his second, then nipped one back into Crawley’s pads to trap him for a two-ball duck, the only dampener on his captaincy debut.
Jacks then had a life on 44, when Tector at backward point couldn’t cling onto a low chance off McCarthy, but he quickly made Ireland pay with a magnificent launch for six over extra cover off the spin of McBrine, to bring up his fifty from 44 balls.
Ireland seemed little more than passive observers as England sauntered through their middle overs at a run a ball, with Jacks and Duckett barely breaking sweat in a stand of 102. But Duckett then knelt into a trademark paddle over fine leg off Dockrell to lob a simple chance to backward square for 48, before Jacks – with a century at his mercy – tried to reach it with one mighty blow and instead found Balbirnie lurking inside the rope to traipse off for 94 from 88.
And so it was over to Hain to guide England to the formidable total that their platform had promised. Having waited so long to make an impression, his opening gambit arguably reinforced the reasons why the selectors had tended to look elsewhere. He even played out a maiden from Adair in reaching 1 from his first 11 balls, and was then dropped at point while scuffing a cut off McCarthy.
But finally he landed a solid thump for four through long-on to settle his nerves, and thereafter Hain was into his stride, more confident in his interception points as he skittered out of his crease for another pair of meaty blows down the ground, while rocking back for an authoritative cut through point.
Brydon Carse, loftily placed at No. 7, kept Hain company in a 63-run stand for the sixth wicket that included a thump for six that sent an elderly gent sprawling for the crowd-catch, and after accelerating with purpose into the closing moments of his innings, a century was just about in Hain’s sights as he lined up for the last six balls of the innings from McCarthy, only for a leading edge to mid-off to end his hopes.
Still, he had done the needful to put a hefty score on the board. And despite their stutters, England’s bowlers duly closed out the job – with Scrimshaw, perhaps fittingly putting the seal on the deal with his third wicket of the day, as Little’s run-a-ball 29 ended with a launch to long-on.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket