England win ODI series against Ireland after play is abandoned at Bristol
Ben Duckett had scored a century and Phil Salt 61 off just 28 balls before rain stopped play.
Ben Duckett’s dashing maiden ODI century after an astonishing early blitz from Phil Salt was negated by the elements as England’s summer ended in soggy fashion against Ireland at Bristol.
Salt caused carnage with a buccaneering 61 off 28 balls as England brought up 100 after seven overs, laying the foundations for Duckett, a contender for a non-travelling reserve spot at the World Cup.
Duckett struggled for fluency initially but moved superbly through the gears and brought up his hundred off 72 balls, reaching 107 not out in England’s 280 for four off just 31 overs before rain intervened.
The downpour was brief but a deluge saturated the outfield, where several puddles formed almost immediately, while the ground staff struggled to get the covers on promptly, hindered also by wind.
Barely half an hour after the players came off at 2.48pm, hands were being shaken between the sides on the dressing room balconies at 3.21pm, as an abandonment meant England won the Metro Bank series 1-0.
Salt’s pyrotechnics, containing seven fours and four sixes, plus 39 off 21 balls from Will Jacks helped England set new benchmarks for the fastest a team has reached 50 and 100 when batting first in an ODI.
After an England side with just one change from the 48-run win at Trent Bridge on Saturday – Luke Wood in for George Scrimshaw – were asked to bat, Salt set the tone with 18 runs off the first four balls.
Salt carved, punched then pulled Mark Adair for three successive fours before heaving into the stands beyond midwicket, with England’s 19 the most they have accrued in the opening over of an ODI.
Jacks twice pulled over the leg-side for sixes as England got to 50 in 3.3 overs, with left-arm seamer Josh Little especially expensive. His opening spell was 3-0-46-0, while he finished with 5-0-69-0.
Salt moved to fifty off just 22 balls with a fearsome pull for six off Little, but Craig Young, who took three for 31 from seven overs, restored a sense of balance, extricating a bit of seam and movement off the surface.
Salt chipped to a backpedalling mid-on, while Jacks was bowled through the gate.
Zak Crawley, who has taken charge of this second-string side with England’s World Cup stars resting, was joined by his vice-captain Duckett.
The Test openers brought the hosts down the gears, happy to consolidate on their rapid start, steadily accumulating and hammering the odd boundary.
Crawley was particularly authoritative down the ground, lofting handsomely for a couple of sixes, his first in ODIs, as he amassed 51 off 42 balls before slicing Ireland debutant Theo van Woerkom to short third.
Duckett had moved unobtrusively to a 46-ball fifty, gradually finding the middle of the bat and capitalising when Ireland’s bowlers erred in line.
The left-hander was proficient off his pads and hip and cashed in when the tourists turned to the spin of Van Woerkom and George Dockrell at both ends.
Duckett brought out his favoured sweep, taking Van Woerkom the distance while the slow left-armer conceded four successive fours in his next over.
A hard sweep was followed by a hat-trick of expertly placed cuts in front of square as Duckett started to motor along.
He hoisted Dockrell handsomely over wide long-off to bring up a 72-ball hundred – his second fifty using up just 26 deliveries – but conditions were growing increasingly gloomy and as Sam Hain began to trudge off after being dismissed for 17 by Young, rain started to fall.
Play was not initially halted, but the shower grew heavier and the ground staff belatedly made their way on to the field, only to struggle getting the sheets down as they battled torrential rain and blustery wind.
There will be scrutiny at how swift the abandonment was announced, as well as the wisdom of scheduling international matches in late September following a second rain-affected result in the series, following another controversial washout at Headingley last week.