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On This Day: Isobel Joyce’s Bowling Brilliance Leads Ireland to Its Only Test Victory

It was 2017. It was a jubilant year for Ireland who has been in the international circuit for decades. International Cricket Council decided to add two more members in the Elite group of Test-playing Nation. So, Ireland and Afghanistan Men side were awarded rights to play Test Matches, the status that was coveted by both the nation. Ireland has played 3 tests since then but barring some good spells and innings by the Irish cricketers, they failed to win a test match.

But as far as Irish Women cricketers were concerned, it’s a different story altogether. Before entering the new millennium, they had 14 ODI victories under their belt in 54 matches. Pakistan, who made an entry in the international arena a couple of years earlier toured Ireland in 2000. In the 3 ODI matches with all their experience, Ireland defeated their guest. Ireland’s victory by 9 wickets, 117 runs, and 150 runs worked as the morale booster for them.

Players like Clare Mary O’Leary, Karen Young, and skipper Miriam Elizabeth Greeley all were in goo touch coming to the test match. The Test, at Dublin, was the first Test for Ireland irrespective of gender. Though Pakistan had played a ‘test against Srilanka earlier and played Test after that match, this test remained as the only test for Ireland’s Women.

At College Ground at Dublin, the toss didn’t go as Ireland skipper Miriam Grealey had expected. In a conversation with ‘The Green Ball Show’ in 2020 Grealey said that prior to the test match they had a long discussion about the team combination and the batting, bowling order. She had decided that they would try to bat throughout the first day and then look forward to the rest of the day.

But contrary to her expectation, Pakistan won the toss to bat first. As expected, the medium pacers dominated the first few hours. The Pakistani batters went into the grove and left all the balls that were inch outside off stump. Miriam later recalled about the innings, “it seemed like Pakistani’s knew only two strokes. Either they played forward defence or left the ball. We all got bored in the field. Even Isobel Joyce came to me saying she too is getting bored and why they are not playing strokes.”

Saibh Young bowled 9 continues maidens over and an edge in the 2nd last ball of her 10th over helped Pakistan to score a single in 60 balls that she bowled. In the breaks Ireland team regrouped and skipper Grealey called her two spinner- offie Catherine O’Neill and leg spinner Ciara Metcalfe. Two spinners got 7 wickets between them in 26 overs. Pakistan was bowled out at 53 in 47 overs.

All the plans that were made in the boards regarding runs they should have on the board at lunch and tea and at the end of the day, and how many overs they should get through in a day, what would be good total to declare, what was the pitch like, and what were Pakistan like. Ireland didn’t have a lot of information about the Pakistan team, because they hadn’t been in many competitions. So they had to do their research based on how Pakistan had done against other teams, and then they had to make their game plan. But all the plans they made for a 4-day match went in vain.

Ireland’s coach John Wills instructed his batters to play throughout the day. Ireland based on Caitriona Mary Beggs unbeaten 68 and Karen Young’s 58 scored 193 in 47 overs. Ireland managed to get a lead of 140 runs. As the first day’s play came to an end Pakistan was 8/1 in the 2nd innings. Isobel Joyce with her left arm seam bowling overshadowed her teammates on the next day.

She first picked up Sajjida Shah. Shah was cleaned bowled on 0. In her 11.1 overs, Joyce conceded 21 runs and picked up 6 wickets with her left-arm medium pace. Khursheed Jabeen who had batted for 182 minutes for her 13 too was bowled by Joyce.

Isobel Joyce became the first Irish cricketer, male or female to take a 5 wicket haul in a Test inning. Her 6/21 is the best figure by any Irish cricketer in a test match. She became the player of the match.

The match was ended inside two days. Ireland and Pakistan decided to play two One Day matches in those two days. Ireland went on to win the 4th ODI and the last game was abandoned due to rain. Ireland is the only Team to have a 100% win percentage (min one match) and never played a test again.



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