In the first match of the series against Ireland in Malahide, ODI caps were presented to Daniel Bell-Drummond, Aneurin Donald, Sam Curran and Tom Curran.
Jake Ball struck with the very first delivery of the match but our hosts went about laying a solid platform thanks in the main to Ed Joyce. Once we dismissed Joyce we ripped through the Irish middle order and had them well and truly on the ropes however an immensely frustrating 8th wicket partnership between Boyd Rankin (67 not out) and George Dockrell (57 not out) saw Ireland propel themselves to 294-7. Needing to score at nearly a run-a-ball, a number of our batsmen made starts but failed to convert them into a big score and we went down by a mammoth 120 runs.
Having headed north to Scotland our batsmen displayed a welcome ability to battle through some probing periods of bowling and convert cameos into innings of substance.
Ben Duckett in particular displayed a Test match temperament in making 63 from 88 deliveries before eventually falling to Con de Lange. De Lange would finish the innings with devil like figures of 6-66.
Having risked wasting the efforts of Duckett, we were indebted to Liam Dawson who top scored with 71 not out batting at number nine.
Surrey teenager Sam Curran impressed with figures of 2-47…
… but it was Jake Ball (3-50) who led the way again as we held off the Scots to claim a 30-run victory and our first points of the series.
After getting a first win under our belt we were confident of putting on a better showing against the Irish on home territory at Headingley. Our nemesis Boyd Rankin (64 not out) had other ideas however. For the second match in a row between the sides he was ably supported by George Dockrell to take Ireland past 300 despite the ever impressive Sam Curran’s 3-55. After Daniel Bell-Drummond (30) and Ben Duckett (28) put on 50 for the first wicket, Rankin (4-24) and Dockrell (5-31) sent our middle order packing in the blink of an eye. Aneurin Donald’s series continued to peter out, the young Welshman falling first ball, one of George Dockrell’s five victims.
The sum of all parts added up to a 172-run mauling at the hands of our Irish enemies.
Following another thrashing at the hands of the Irish it was felt necessary to make changes for the second match against Scotland at Trent Bridge. Moeen Ali, Aneurin Donald and Tom Curran were all dropped. Adil Rashid was also axed following a poor showing on his home ground. ODI Debuts were handed out to Middlesex duo Dawid Malan and Ollie Rayner whilst there were international recalls for Sam Billings and Chris Jordan. Replacing Moeen at number three, Malan hinted at international quality when striking a run-a-ball 20 and would later prove effective with the ball.
German born off-spinner Ollie Rayner had almost immediate success, striking in the first over of his ODI career.
The psychological scars from the Irish trauma were too much to bear though and after Daniel Bell-Drummond was run out for the second time in four innings and Jos Buttler threw away an impressive start we collapsed to a paltry 149 all out. That man Con de Lange leading the charge again with impressive figures of 4-14. Despite some tight bowling from part-time leg-spinner Dawid Malan (1-9) and Rayner’s debut wicket we went down by six wickets.
A bottom of the table finish was not what we had expected at the start of the tournament but hopefully our young players will have benefited from some harsh lessons ahead of even sterner tests in the future.