Best sporting moments of the year - No 11: Ireland rain on England’s parade at the MCG

Ireland inflicted England’s only loss on the way to the title with the help of a little Melbourne rain

Cricket – Men’s T20 World Cup Super 12s, Ireland v England, Melbourne Cricket Ground, October 26th

Andy Balbirnie was a picture of contradictions. His sunglasses were wrapped around his baseball cap, while he stood under an umbrella that protected him from the rain which poured from the heavens.

The very same rain which had brought a premature end to Ireland’s match with tournament favourites England, one which gave the Irish a famous victory by five runs on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method after a remarkable performance.

His team of underdogs turned the cricket world on its head in the MCG.


Balbirnie, the captain, had led from the front like a true leader in the historic win with a batting contribution of 62 off 47 as Ireland set the target of 157.

England, who had won the toss and chose to field aware there was a weather forecast of heavy rain due, may have felt the winning target of 158 a comfortable one. Soon, it became apparent it would be nothing of the sort.

Josh Little set the tone, with England captain Jos Buttler was caught behind off his second ball. Ben Stokes was bowled out quite brilliantly by Fionn Hand. And as England’s wickets fell and Dawid Malan and Harry Brook stayed at the wicket too long with little or no impact, the ever-darkening clouds combined with the Irish bowling for an ominous foreboding for the hot favourites.

The arrival of Moeen Ali very nearly provided England a lifeline, and he seemed to have found momentum in hitting 12 off three balls, upon which the rain came down like that old cats and dogs analogy and the umpires took the players away never to return. Ireland had triumphed on the DL method for a famous win, toppling the cricketing giants.

“I’ve seen a lot of rain in my time playing cricket and I’ve never been happier to see that rain come down,” admitted Balbirnie. “It’s amazing and kind of emotional because we’ve never played a game of cricket [in the MCG] and to come and play the tournament favourites with so many big names in the game and put on a show in front of friends, family is very satisfying.”

Historic, for sure, as Ireland – in the rain – had their day in the sun; the only team to defeat England in the competition, who nevertheless went on to win the World T20.

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times