Figures of three for 66 may not leap off the page but for George Scrimshaw, one of four debutants in an England side that swept aside Ireland after a Will Jacks special, that wickets column was manna from heaven.
Presented with his cap before play by Dominic Cork, the last Derbyshire cricketer to represent England back in 2002, the wiry 25-year-old looked as if he wanted the ground to swallow him amid a harrowing start to his first bowl in one-day international cricket.
Just 3.5 overs into Ireland’s pursuit of 335 to win – a target set up by a fiery 94 from Jacks and Sam Hain’s slick 89 on debut – Scrimshaw sent down six no-balls and a wide, and shipped 35 runs from 11 legal deliveries. The Nottingham public are too discerning to wish ill on a cricketer from the other end of Brian Clough Way but, like him, they were fearing the worst.
And then it came, a maiden wicket for England as Andy Balbirnie poked outside off-stump and Ben Duckett hoovered up at slip. There was a sheepish look to the umpire, Rod Tucker, but the front foot was behind the line. Scrimshaw exhaled in relief beneath his officer-class moustache and was mobbed by a gaggle of new teammates.
This was the first incision in something of a procession for Zak Crawley’s band of reserves. Matthew Potts followed it up by persuading the dangerous Paul Stirling to chop on next ball and finished with two for 47, while Rehan Ahmed filleted the middle order with his wrist-spin to claim standout figures of four for 54 from unbroken 10 overs.
Scrimshaw’s second wicket came when the chase was still live – the talented Lorcan Tucker falling to a sparkling catch by Duckett in the ring – while his third shut down proceedings. Craig Young (40 not out) and Josh Little (29) induced a touch of late panic, adding 55 for the last wicket, only for the latter to pick out long-on with 20 balls to spare.
It made for a slightly sloppy end by England. But then with its short boundaries and shirt-front surface, Trent Bridge remains a challenging ground on which to defend. As such, Ahmed’s returns could be considered a triumph, as could those of the debutant Tom Hartley, who conceded only 48 runs from 10 overs of left-arm spin.
After the abandonment at Headingley in midweek, Ireland will need that late flourish to come from higher up if they are to draw this late-summer series in Bristol on Tuesday. It may take a few more showings like that of George Dockrell, too, the all-rounder claiming three wickets in England’s 334 for eight and offering a punchy 43 with the bat.
Dockrell launched a couple of sixes as wickets tumbled at the other end but fell attempting a third off Ahmed. Back on the ground he once called home, Leicestershire’s 19-year-old leg-spinner performed a role not dissimilar to Adil Rashid, that googly forever planting the seed of doubt and producing one beauty to rattle Andy McBrine’s stumps.
The pyrotechnics came chiefly from Jacks, a player set to be on stand-by during the senior side’s impending World Cup campaign. Phil Salt fell for a breezy 28, while Crawley made it two in the seventh over for Craig Young when he was trapped lbw for a duck. But Jacks positively purred from opener.
It wasn’t just the four sixes that caught the eye either, Jacks threading his early fours square as Ireland struggled with their lengths. There was a brisk stand of 102 with Duckett, who made 48 from 49 balls, and though agony followed for Jacks when holing out six short of a century, England will have noted his disregard for the milestone.
“If I’d have tapped it around, got to 99 and then nicked off, that would have really pissed me off,” said Jacks, while offering words of encouragement for Scrimshaw. “For him to be on TV, a global stage, [that start] was a horrible feeling. He came back really well, got three wickets and bowled nicely, which he deserved.”
England will have also noted Hain’s strong first outing, walking out at 153 for three in the 24th over and only falling in the last when trying to ignite the afterburners. Scratchy at first, and not a power player per se, the 28-year-old soon opened up and lasered eight fours. After five years in the Lions, the so-called Hain train has finally left the station.
Hain was aided by Brydon Carse, arriving at 235 for five after Jamie Smith fell for nine on debut and one half of a precious 63-run stand. Carse chipped in with 32 and later snuffed out a lively 41 by tailender Barry McCarthy with a fine yorker. Like Jacks, Duckett and, one would assume, Ahmed, he will be following events in India closely.