The perennial Full Member slayers, Ireland, were first up in an exciting fixture. This time it was the West Indies and what a thumping it turned out to be.
Captain William Porterfield won the toss and elected to bowl, surprising many, but not me. At 90 for five in the 24th over, it was anything but wrong. The selection of Andy McBrine may also have raised a few eyebrows but his performances during the warm-up games certainly warranted his selection.
George Dockrell got the wickets as he so often does but it was his less experienced spin partner who shone on Ireland’s opening day at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. McBrine’s 10 overs went for just 26, bowling his first over in the Powerplay (seventh over) to Chris Gayle, which was a maiden! I'm sure it was a nervous moment for him but he took it in his stride. It could have been so much better but for a 154-run sixth wicket partnership and lusty hitting at the end gave them 304 to chase.
Ireland’s strength at this ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 is in its batting. With 30,000 first-class runs between the top four and 11 ODI hundreds between the openers alone, 304 was well within their capabilities. Paul Stirling, Ed Joyce and Niall O'Brien all went at over 100 strike-rate and never gave the West Indies an opportunity to get into the game.
Ireland’s next game becomes massive now as it plays the UAE in Brisbane. Ireland should win, provided the celebrating has stopped and focus has been restored.
The next Associate to take to the field was Scotland with the unenviable task of taking on co-hosts and one of the tournament’s favourites, New Zealand.
Twelve for four in the fifth over wasn’t the start Scotland had been looking for and realistically it was game over for the European side there and then. However, the Scots very rarely give up and a 97-run partnership between Matt Machan (56 off 79 balls) and Richie Berrington (50 off 80 balls) got the score over 100 and saved any embarrassment.
But losing 12 for three in three overs and being bowled out in the 37th over was unforgivable. What if Scotland had batted their overs!
With a small total to chase, New Zealand was always going to attack early to assist their net run-rate. That approach ultimately gave the Scots a chance or two. If they had held on to the two chances, it could've been a completely different story to tell than to write. Plenty of hope for Scotland over their next five games.
As the highest-ranked Associate team heading into the tournament, Afghanistan, took on Bangladesh, a team it had beaten last year in Dhaka at the Asia Cup.
Afghanistan, which has decent bowlers to utilise the two new cricket balls, was asked to bowl at the Manuka Oval wicket, which can be a little tacking in the mornings. This proved to be the same in this fixture.
Bangladesh was restricted to 119 for four in the 30th over. However, closing the innings was always going to be the issue for Afghanistan. Five of their last 10 overs went for eight runs or more, and this was a factor in its loss.
The target of 267 was a very much achievable for Afghanistan. However, it looked as if it was worried about getting out, instead of playing its natural game and that meant boundaries. In the 23rd over at the score of 65 for four and another 200 required, the target seemed unobtainable, impossible to get and this was the case.
If Afghanistan is to succeed in this ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, it needs to play its brand of fearless cricket. I predicted it would and I hope that this is what we will see from Afghanistan in their next game against Sri Lanka.
It was no surprise that Amjad Khan, Swapnil Patel and Shaiman Anwar led the UAE batting in Nelson on Thursday and they certainly made the Zimbabweans sweat for, at least, 20 overs. If they could have been more positive up front, they could have given their middle-order more momentum towards the back end of the innings.
Given the strength and experience of the Zimbabweans batting line up, 285 was never going to be enough and that proved to be the case. The African side was in some bother when it was reduced to 167 for five in the 33rd over but Sean Williams (76 not out) and Craig Ervine (42) put on 83 runs for the sixth wicket in just over 14 overs to not only put their sides back on track but to also ensure victory was achieved with four wickets and 12 balls to spare.
Credit must go to Amjad Javed and Mohammad Tauqir who worked hard with the ball and deserved more for their efforts. The Gabba is probably their least favourite type of surface so that will be a stern test.
It’s been a good start to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 for the associates, there will be a heavy defeat or two, but they need to believe in their ability and back themselves and their team mates.
More shocks will follow, I promise that…