50 overs England 334 for 8 (Jacks 94, Hain 89, Dockrell 3-43) vs Ireland
Between them, the two men topped and tailed an innings that lacked a degree of cohesion, and understandably so, given that England’s line-up was missing all 15 of the men who are bound for the World Cup next week, and instead featured four debutants and a total of 48 ODI caps all told. Nevertheless, Ireland stuck to their guns after a torrid start, dragging England back from a runaway 55 for 0 after six overs, with George Dockrell and Craig Young the stand-out performers with five wickets between them. Seeing as they chased 329 with room to spare in the team’s most recent ODI three years ago, it was very much game on at the halfway mark.
After being asked to bat first, England’s opening exchanges were a battle within a battle for two openers with clear designs on a more permanent ODI berth. Phil Salt, somewhat outspoken last week about his place in the pecking order, opened his account with two fours in his first three balls; Jacks trumped that with three in his first four, each of them stroked handsomely through the covers as Josh Little offered too much width with the new ball. Salt then raised the stakes again with two arrow-straight drives off Mark Adair, whose wild nine-ball over epitomised Ireland’s early struggles.
And for a time thereafter, they looked like being overwhelmed in a typical Trent Bridge-style blizzard of strokeplay, but Young’s introduction offered some much-needed order. After signs of swing in his first over, he lured Salt into a loose drive to short cover with the first ball of his second, then nipped one back into Zak Crawley’s pads to put a dampener on his captaincy debut with a two-ball duck. Jacks, however, was still on hand to complete the powerplay in style, banging Barry McCarthy over deep midwicket for England’s first six from the final ball of the tenth over.
Jacks had a life on 44, when McCarthy surprised him with a hint of extra bounce but Harry Tector at backward point couldn’t close his fingers round the chance. He made Ireland pay with a magnificent launch for six over extra cover off the spin of Andy McBrine, to bring up his fifty from 44 balls, as England’s 100 came up in the 15th over.
Ireland seemed little more than passive observers as England sauntered through their middle overs at a run a ball, with Jacks and Ben Duckett exchanging a pair of sixes over long-on to hint at the violence they’d be capable of unleashing at the back-end of the innings. So it came as a bit of a surprise when Duckett, on 48 from 48 in a stand of 102, knelt into a trademark paddle over fine leg off Dockrell, only to lob his shot straight into Adair’s hands, running round smartly from short backward square.
At 158 for 3 in the 24th over, enter Hain, perhaps the most intriguing of England’s four debutants, given that his towering List A average – 57.96 across a ten-year career – had for so long seemed inversely proportional to his hopes of ever making an international debut.
Sure enough, having waited so long to make an impression, Hain’s opening gambit arguably reinforced the reasons why the selectors had tended to look elsewhere. He even played out a maiden from Adair in reaching 1 from his first 11 balls, and was then dropped at point while scuffing a cut off McCarthy. But finally he landed a solid thump for four through long-on to settle his nerves, and thereafter Hain was into his stride, more confident in his interception points as he skittered out of his crease for another pair of meaty blows down the ground, while rocking back for an authoritative cut through point.
At the other end, Jacks continued to exude an inevitability that belied his three-cap experience, but after crunching Dockrell high over midwicket to march into the 90s, he attempted to reach his century with another solitary blow, but this time found Andy Balbirnie lurking inside the rope to traipse off for 94 from 88.
Jacks’ Surrey team-mate Jamie Smith fared no better in his launch for the ropes. His somewhat anxious debut ended at a 10-ball 9, as Little leapt at long-on to intercept his first shot in anger, but Brydon Carse, loftily placed at No. 7, kept Hain company in a 63-run stand for the sixth wicket that included a thump for six that sent an elderly gent sprawling for the crowd-catch but ended with a miscued hack to cover off Little.
Rehan Ahmed came and went cheaply as Adair got lucky with a full toss, but after Tom Hartley had drilled the first boundary of his international career through the covers, Hain upped his own tempo into the final overs, crashing a brace of boundaries down the ground in Adair’s final over. A century was just about in his sights as he lined up for the last six balls of the innings from McCarthy, but a leading edge to mid-off ended his hopes.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket