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Cricket news - A Green Letter Day through design
There's a reason you have only seen the last seven wickets of the miracle of Sion Mills.
For those who unfamiliar with the tale, on July 2 1969, Ireland hosted West Indies at a village ground in Northern Ireland. Basil Butcher "won the toss" - he convinced his Irish counterpart, Dougie Goodwin to let them bat because of the crowd that had gathered - and his team featuring the likes of Clyde Walcott and Clive Lloyd went first. They were rolled for 25.
When Ireland reached 19-1 in their chase, it was decided both sides would have a second innings to ensure play moved into a full day. The hosts batted onto 125 for eight, but the win, along with the headline, were sealed long before.
Coverage could not have been more limited. Ulster Television had just three cameras in their posession and their head of news, Robin Walsh, took the executive decision not to send any of them. It was only when Walsh tuned into the BBC radio bulletin at lunchtime did he realise he'd missed the story, as news came through of Goodwin's five for six and Alec O'Riordan's four for 18. A run out squared the circle.
A call from the ITN news desk in London came and when Walsh informed the person at the other end that his three cameras were still in the stable, the response was less than polite, especially with the BBC stealing a march on them.
However, the Beeb had their own problems. For some reason, despite having the monopoly on visual pictures, they were not recording until they received a prompt from head office. As such, they missed the opening three West Indies wickets.
The BBC link for the footage from Sion Mills that day is now a dud, but it still exists on YouTube. The only colour is in the anecdotes.
Perhaps most demoralising is how even recent success is hard to dig up beyond scorecards and reports. There are no complete highlights of Ireland's marquee win over Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup, nor the stunning smash-and-grab against England in 2011. History may be written by the victors, but modern sporting history is at the mercy of rights holders. This time, on the most momentous day in Irish cricket, things were very different.
Instead of just one, there were 32 cameras at the ground. That ground being Lord's, where previous Irish sides have come and played MCC sides made up of players not needed by their counties that week.
This was a different Ireland side. One reflective of their ecosystem: battle-weary yet ready. Hardened but able to appreciate the subtlety of the first-class game, which was backed up by their respective CVs. This was the first time in an England Test at Lord's that the opposition carried more first-class appearances among them than the hosts.
By lunch - and we must stress this, lunch on the first day - there were replays of ten English wickets being shown on the two big screens inside the ground, as well as the one on the Nursery Ground. Sky Sports' coverage pored over each one, picking faults, judging techniques and lauding Tim Murtagh.
Clips were doing the rounds on social media as England fans recovered from World Cup fever and slipped into the recognisable slumber of a comical batting collapse. The odd video was shared to Instagram and by 5 PM, a number of illegal streams plied a happy trade. And just to complete the full modern-day cricket set, there was even a historic Jofra Archer tweet to go with it.
Not in Ireland's wildest dreams did they envisage rumbling England out for 85 in a session. And even at 18:40, when Boyd Rankin squirted an ungainly edge through gully for four, the cheers as the score moved on to 203 were the type anyone who has been among their own fans when something special is happening can appreciate.
That feeling of turning to your fellow man and woman and seeing the joy in their eyes, realising you can believe your own. The euphoria of historical accomplishment coursing through your body. Twice in the last two weeks, Lord's has hosted such delirium.
That victory in 2007 was something of a perfect storm. The Ireland rugby team had just won the Triple Crown in the Six Nations and, being St Patrick's Day, people were bedding into the pub for the long-haul as news of an exciting finish at Sabina Park came through.
Four years on, Bangalore being five hours ahead and the game going into the 100th over meant people began turning on in the early evening as word of Kevin O'Brien's hundred, a fast-approaching target of 329 and the chance to stick it to England spread.
This, though, felt like a standalone moment. And with this being a four-day match, there is still time to jump on the bandwagon. Day One alone should be all the hook needed.
No need to be coerced into watching, or leaving it to the fate of happening to be in the right boozer at the right time. Ireland hold a 122-run first innings lead and all the aces if the final shot of the day is to be believed, with four encroaching slips and four baying catches in front of the bat.
Over the next two days they will be grafting to turn this into a win that will echo throughout history. For the first time, Irish fans, you've no excuse not to be a part of it.
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