Redmond on song

Aaron Redmond... superb knock.-AP

Aaron Redmond, called up from Farnworth in the Bolton League only 24 hours earlier as a replacement for Jesse Ryder, struck 63 from 30 balls to clinch an easy victory for New Zealand against surprise qualifier Ireland. By David Hopps.

“Utilitarian” was one of the kinder descriptions of Aaron Redmond on his last visit to England. On a good day he might be deemed “workmanlike”. He was not about to be included in an advertising campaign for World Twenty20. He might be now.

Redmond tried to adapt to the role of Test opener in England last summer and barely played a shot, making 54 runs in three Tests at a funereal pace.

Ireland, wondering how they might compete after their surprise qualification for the Super Eights, could have been forgiven for wondering if they might dare to keep him at the crease. He had never played a one-day international and came to the crease with no number on his shirt.

But Twenty20’s land of free expression does wondrous things. Redmond, called up from Farnworth in the Bolton League only 24 hours earlier as a replacement for Jesse Ryder, struck 63 from 30 balls. Even Ryder, who was being treated for a stomach infection and suspected hernia in a London hospital, could hardly have played in a more rollicking fashion.

New Zealand’s XI smacked of vulnerability: no Ryder, no Ross Taylor, no Daniel Vettori. Stronger sides than Ireland might have taken advantage. New Zealand made 198 for five as Ireland failed to rediscover their inspirational form in beating Bangladesh. They then succumbed to an 83-run defeat with the ‘help’ of four run-outs. “Schoolboy errors,” said William Porterfield, Ireland’s captain.

Redmond’s nerves were dispelled, first ball, by a friendly full toss by Peter Connell. Trent Johnston’s first over then disappeared to the fence four times. New Zealand were 32 after two overs and Redmond had seven fours from 10 balls. He reverse-swept to raise his 50 in 23 balls.

His captain, Brendon McCullum, a more renowned hitter but entirely overshadowed by his opening partner, said: “He took the game away from Ireland inside about three overs. It was a pretty nervy game for us and he gave us impetus.”

In Farnworth they will not be surprised. On June 6, in a match reduced to 25 overs, he struck 10 sixes in an innings of 144 against Astley Bridge. The club’s website recorded that “spectators and players were mesmerised”. Dodgy Pennines weather has proved to be his secret weapon.

“I don’t know how many balls that came off because halfway through the scorer gave up,” Redmond said. “Most of the games have been rain-affected so I am used to playing short games. It was a complete contrast to playing Test cricket last spring and trying to bat time. I have felt that my game has grown in the past six months. I have lost that fear a bit. I only got the call-up yesterday so I haven’t had time to worry about it.”

THE SCORES

New Zealand v Ireland. Result: New Zealand won by 83 runs.

New Zealand: B. McCullum c West b McCallan 10; A. Redmond lbw b Cusack 63; M. Guptill (not out) 45; S. Styris c K. O’Brien b McCallan 42; J. Oram c Botha b Cusack 15; P. McGlashan b Johnston 5; J. Franklin (not out) 7; Extras (b-3, lb-4, w-4) 11. Total (for five wkts., in 20 overs) 198.

Fall of wickets: 1-51, 2-91, 3-152, 4-168, 5-176.

Ireland bowling: Connell 1-0-14-0; Johnston 4-0-43-1; K. O’Brien 4-0-31-0; McCallan 4-0-33-2; Cusack 4-0-43-2; West 3-0-27-0.

Ireland: W. Porterfield (run out) 1; G. Wilson c Franklin b Styris 23; N. O’Brien c Oram b Mills 3; A. Botha (run out) 28; K. O’Brien c Franklin b N. McCullum 2; J. Mooney (run out) 12; A. Cusack c B. McCullum b N. McCullum 20; D. Johnston (run out) 14; W. McCallan lbw b N. McCullum 0; R. West b Mills 8; P. Connell (not out) 1; Extras (lb-2, w-1) 3. Total (in 16.4 overs) 115.

Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-15, 3-57, 4-58, 5-67, 6-86, 7-104, 8-104, 9-112.

New Zealand bowling: Mills 2.4-0-12-2; Franklin 3-0-17-0; Butler 2-0-15-0; Oram 3-0-25-0; Styris 3-0-29-1; N. McCullum 3-0-15-3.

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2009