Collingwood praises Morgan's cool
Stand-in captain Paul Collingwood praised England’s fight after they averted a shock one-day international defeat to Ireland in Belfast.
In a dramatic late twist to the rain-affected match, former Ireland batsman Eoin Morgan, England’s 12th man, palmed the ball back into play to prevent a six at long-on.
Had it been registered, his former colleagues would have required just three from the final ball for a one-wicket win.
All-rounder Trent Johnston, who struck the ball off Owais Shah, and number 11 Kyle McCallan were so intent on watching the ball, they ended up running one short as they went to complete two, and although the last ball travelled to the boundary, England won by three runs.
England had managed just 203 for nine on a slow surface and somehow defended a revised total of 116 after persisent rain delayed the chase until 5.35pm BST.
“It was a difficult position to be in and the fight we showed in the last 10 overs was excellent,” said Collingwood. “As international cricketers we don’t come across pitches like that too often.
“A few things went against us today. It is pretty difficult to defend a target like that in 20 overs, with eight overs of powerplay. It was very soggy out there but thankfully we didn’t get any injuries out there. I would have been very angry if we came off with any injuries.”
Morgan was on the field as a substitute for Graeme Swann and his quick thinking proved decisive.
“It was an unbelievable, very modern piece of fielding,” Collingwood said.
“He threw his body up, caught it and had the brains to throw it straight back down before he touched the floor. “Things like that in Twenty20 cricket win you games.
“We do a fair bit of specific practice on that kind of thing and it’s amazing that it does creep up now and again. Eoin managed to perfect it today.”
Ireland required just 30 runs from five overs with five wickets in hand when Collingwood introduced part-time spinner Shah - he finished with 3-16.
“It was a gamble, simple as that,” said Collingwood. “He doesn’t bowl that often in one-day internationals but he did a fantastic job, bowled into the pitch, which was the important thing to do with it gripping.”
Debutant Joe Denly held the England innings together with 67 but they still appeared on course for a reality check just hours after Ashes glory.
“It was obviously a quick turnaround after the Ashes, let’s be fair, so we are just thankful we managed to get the win,” Collingwood acknowledged.
Particularly, given that Ireland were 64 for two in the ninth over chasing their modest target.
“It is obviously very, very disappointing,” Ireland captain Will Porterfield, said of the defeat.
“We should have won from that position - you should always win from that kind of position and that is what hurts.”