Ireland couldn’t showcase its ability in what was its last scheduled international fixture until the ICC Intercontinental Cup clash against Scotland in late September, and no one got to see what Chris Gayle can do now that he’s back in the Windies One-Day International colours, as the one-off game in Belfast was unfortunately abandoned without a ball bowled on Wednesday.
It was to be Ireland’s first game against a full-member nation since being awarded Test status earlier this year, against the team it beat on the back of excellent hands from Paul Stirling, Ed Joyce and Niall O’Brien in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015; the last time the two teams met.
That World Cup was also the last time Gayle played an ODI, and though he has been called up along with Marlon Samuels and Jerome Taylor, there was no real chance of watching them perform as persistent rain in the Stormont area left the outfield at the Civil Service Cricket Club ground wet and soft.
There was no rain at the scheduled start time, but the ground wasn’t fit enough for play, and after a run of strong sunshine, the rain returned to end all hopes of play, even a curtailed game.
While Ireland will have wanted to have a good run against a strong opponent, the game was significant from Windies’ point of view keeping in mind direct qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
With a no-result in Belfast, the two-time champs must now go undefeated in its ODI series in England – starting September 19 at Old Trafford – by either winning 5-0 or even 4-0 with a no-result or tie, to earn its berth directly. Any other scoreline will mean taking part in the qualifying tournament next year.
If the Windies can pull it off, then it goes through as the eighth-placed team on the ICC ODI team table. That will push Sri Lanka down to No. 9 and it must then try and earn its spot in the 10-team event via the qualifier.
The West Indies will now fly to England on Thursday and play a one-off Twenty20 International on Saturday ahead of the crucial ODI series.