He says overcast conditions motivated his decision, that his team set a great standard of fielding against Afghanistan, and England are unchanged.
Sky have just advertised their channel by showing footage of Ben Stokes backed by the commentary “Cut away for four”. Yes, they’ve literally divested Nasser of his first “Cut away”; I’ve called Interpol.
It doesn’t take much for sports fans to lose themselves in nostalgia – and, let’s be real, given the absolute state of things, we could be forgiven for diving into an idealised pool of how things once were … if that didn’t have so much to do with getting us here in the first place. But it’s nevertheless impossible to conceive of an Ireland v England World Cup match without taking ourselves back to Bengaluru in March 2011, when Kevin Pietersen scored 59, Jonathan Trott 92 and Ian Bell 81 … only for Kevin O’Brien to play one of the great innings, 113 off 73, to help Ireland home by three wickets with five balls to spare.
A lot’s changed since then; most particularly, England have learnt to play limited overs cricket. But when it comes to T20, that doesn’t always matter: of all the sports in the world, only MMA can claim to be as unpredictable. In the latter, it’s because there are so many ways to finish a contest and finish it quickly, which is sort of the case with the former too. Cricket has always been an individual sport played by teams – likewise MMA in its way, given the propensity of fighters to use the word “we” when talking about putting themselves through barely believable punishment – and in the shortest form, one brilliant knock or spell can render everything else irrelevant. Just ask Ben Stokes.
So what of today’s match? Well, England arrive at it in terrific form, having edged Pakistan in one of the great serieseseses then walloped Australia, Pakistan again and Afghanistan in the last month. But Ireland are at it too, having eliminated West Indies to reach this stage, and though they were well-beaten by Sri Lanka in their first Super 12 match, both sides know they’re one Kevin O’Brien innings away from shocking the world.
Play: 3pm local, 5am BST