Match Centre

Commentator: Sreshth Shah (@sreshthx)

2.49pm Match abandoned! Sorry guys - the rain was just too much all day. The ground is not fit for action. Thanks for your company all afternoon. See you soon for the 2nd T20I. Good bye!

Vinod Rajpal: "@Sreshth, Ireland & Zimb have to wait for the CWC SF to get completed !!" -- Looks like that was their grand plan after all

2.32pm Kev : "Good news all, sun starting to peek out & covers slowly peeling off it seems. " -- Good to hear! Means a 5-over shootout can begin by 3.45pm if ground conditions allow it

Graeme : "Sun just came out...and the ground covers about to come off!?"

2.20pm Still no update from Stormont. Drizzling there.

hritiz: "@shivam, what will Scotland do with the core if they dont get enough games to play? they are not even in 13 team ODI league, has to break into 10 team World Cup 2023, and even their U19 team have to compete with Ireland U19 for sole spot of Europe in U19 WC, for which even Japan has qualified"

Shivam: "Shah u missed Berrington too from the list of underrated players...he too is on par with Coetzer & Macloed and that is why Scotland have the best future out of associate nation's because of having a core"

Ronny: "Post the world cup, which players will comprise the Indian middle order? Surely, this world cup would be curtains for DK and Kedar Jadhav. Shubhman Gill looks like a shoe in. Anyone else that the selectors will try?" -- I think Jadhav has a lot to offer. Bhuvneshwar may slowly make way for the Navdeep Sainis and Avesh Khans within 12-18 months I think.

Tafadzwa: "What happened to Ryan Murray? he seemed like promising batsman deserve to given more international game time." -- Far as I know, he's in Stellenbosch. I think he's studying. He's definitely been playing cricket for Maties (the Stellenbosch uni side)

ram mohan reddy: "Hi SHAH ! ICC should make a mandate that every full member team should play certain minimum number of matches against associate teams per year. That will sure help them grow imo. Whats your take on this ?" -- I love it, although financially, it means that the full-member team will lose money. I agree that India, Australia and England can definitely afford the loss, but sadly don't see doing it.

2pm Did you guys read Alex Hales' latest statement on 'letting his team, family and fans down'? He bares it all right here.

Atif: "Surely Jadeja won't break Kiwi hearts into 'pieces'?"

Atif: "Jadeja is onto something in Manchester, eh?" -- He's doing his 'bit'

Aayush: "Who is the most underrated crickter among the associate nation's? I would have to say that it's Brendan Taylor." -- I love how Kyle Coetzer and Calum McLeod go about their cricket. Brendan Taylor isn't associate, mate.

hritiz: "The rise of European Cricket: With the Euro T20 slam coming up, European cricket is indeed on the rise with Ned, IrL and Scotland. Where do you see this trio in coming decade? " -- You know, it's all about how many youngsters they are grooming. Ireland and Netherlands have struggled in developing youngsters. Scotland are doing much better on that front. So I think Scotland are best placed to take bigger steps in the future

Arthurshire: "I'm in a Stormont car park watching the aggressive drizzle. Is it worth me getting out of the car?" -- Stay dry, but please yes. We need updates from you. The social media accounts of Zim Cricket and Cricket Ireland have been pretty slow today

Thanks, Liam. My faith is resolute in the Irish weather, MS Dhoni, death and taxes. Enough of us dissecting Zimbabwe. What's the next topic of discussion on your mind, folks?

1.40pm While we wait for updates from Belfast, I'm going to hand back to Sreshth Shah, whose faith in the Irish weather remains unshaken, for a spell.

Shivam: "Why not go with Ervine for captaincy..he is a good decent batsman??" -- Slug doesn't want the captaincy.

ram mohan reddy: "hey Liam ! why dont zim cricket board give captaincy back to Taylor. He is the best and cool minded among them" -- Not the worst shout. I think Taylor has been pretty decent at the helm in the past. But sometimes your best player is not the best candidate for a leadership position.

Yoel: "Do you think CdG is happy he is playing for NZ today instead of Zim?" -- Yep.

1.30pm We've just heard that the cut-off time to get a five over game in is is 3:45pm. So we've got a ways to go yet.

Rajesh: "As an India fan, the ongoing emi-final is more depressing than seeing James Vince edge another one to second slip! At least neither India nor the Proteas nor Zimbabwe will win the World Cup this year ... Similarities?" -- Valiant attempt at the reverse jinx there, Rajesh.

1.17pm Here's Kev, with the weather: "Unfortunately the rain has got heavier again, I can see this being down for the day :-( "

OB/AbhiJato: "I am humbled, Mr Brickhill! :) My best wishes to Noah too, here's to hoping you fall in love with the sport! The Crystal Ball says you should sit tight because something more than decent might happen here, even though I suspect the misty sphere is simply being a good sport and keeping me away from the mess India find themselves in over at Manchester ..."

Deepak Gupta: "Another suggestion for WC format. There shud be a league points system like football where each team plays with every each team for 4 years. Equal no of games for each nation. Every full time member will play with both associate as well as full members. After 4 years, top 8 teams qualify for world cup. Can b QF and have 2 leg matches. It gives home advantage to every nation. Every nation full or associate gets equal chances. Cricket is spread thruout the world. More nations will b attracted."

Aayush: "Where is Andy Flower nowadays? Surely, he can play a role in the Zimbabwe Cricket Board?" -- Him and his brother. As I understand it, both have a 'never say never' attitude to such a scenario, but it would take broad structural changes (in cricket and the country) to entice them back. I think Andy's quite settled in England though.

1.05pm Sam: "What are the playing conditions for today? Do we start losing overs soon or can we play later because this match was moved to an earlier start?" -- The honest answer, Sam, is that I'm not entirely sure. After a discussion at ESPNcricinfo HQ, our very own Sajan Nair suggests that "since its a day game, definitely two hours if not more till we lose overs. Cricket can happen as long as the two teams agree."

Graeme: "First international match for me and my 8 year old son Noah. Hoping we dont have to wait too long for some play - starting to brighten up now... #eternaloptimist" -- Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Here's hoping we get a thrilling first day out at the cricket for young Noah!

OB Jato: "Teams from G1 will play each other once in the group stage like the teams in G2 and G3. Sides will be motivated enough to get a higher rank in the group stage itself and hence play against conventionally 'easier' oppositions during the knockouts. This retains security for the best teams in the world as well as enough unpredictability favouring the rest! The format satisfies sponsors and growth simultaneously, methinks ..." -- I think you could be on to a winning format here. Please run for ICC COO alongside Karan's bid for the chairmanship.

Arun: "Hamilton Masakadza's record in ODIs is 24 games completed, 24 losses and ZERO wins. That he continues to be the captain of the team shows why Zimbabwe are performing so badly. Even UAE would replace such a captain." -- I'm loathe to put the responsibility of all those losses upon Hami's shoulders, broad though they are. But I'm also not convinced he's the best choice as captain.

hritiz: "Zimbabwe in fact did very well in WCQ, should have continued from there. Sadly, administration tried to make unnecessarily big changes, resulting in destabilizing the team and now even Scotland and Netherlands see them above Zimbabwe" -- Agreed. It'd been years since I'd seen Zimbabwe play such electric cricket. I do think that the context helped, and that Zimbabwe raised their game because of what was at stake (and because of the huge reaction from the cricket-watching public in Zimbabwe), but the response from the administration after the qualifier exit was 180 degrees from what it should have been.

karan: "more than the world cup getting expanded, it is important the for the associate nations to play more regularly against the top 5. you only improve if you play against better opposition. Playing with same teams with similar ranking will not give u clear picture of where you stand." -- Please run for ICC chairman.

12.48pm Kev : "I'm sat in the bar at the ground, every time it seems to brighten up the cloud & rain starts over again, frustrating. " -- Thank you, Kev. Please do keep the updates coming.

Sreshth: "This has been a pretty productive rain interruption, so cheers Cricinfo! My question for Liam is: would you rather play against a team consisting of eleven Sikander Razas or eleven Shahid Afridis?" -- XI Razas? Sold!

Rahul Bhat: "Do any of the ex Zimbabwe players take interest in the administration or have given up on it totally due to the politics involved ?" Unfortunately, it's mostly the latter. One of the great tragedies of Zimbabwean cricket is just how much expertise has been allowed to drift out of the system in the name of power consolidation.

OB Jato: "WC format proposal: Teams divided into three groups of five each according to ranking (1-5 occupy G1, 6-10 occupy G2, and 11-15 occupy G3). All teams from G1, top two teams from G2 and group winner from G3 qualify for knockouts. QF1: G1 winner v G3 winner; QF2: G1 first runners-up v G2 first runners-up; QF3: G1 second runners-up v G2 winner; QF4: G1 third runners-up v G1 fourth runners-up. SF1: QF1 winner v QF4 winner; SF2: Q2 winner v Q3 winner. Final: SF1 winner v SF2 winner. Thoughts?" -- Interesting. But would the G1 group then not play any league / round robin games amongst themselves?

12.35pm There will be another pitch inspection in five minutes.

HRITIZ GOGOI: "With new board and structures in place, Zimbabwe can actually develop their cricket if they take a long-term 10 year view. But ICC has to open the closed doors. Had it been a 14 team World Cup, Zimbabwe would have benefitted a lot."

karan: "@ Liam-: In the current scenario do you think ICC must take a tough stand against Zimbabwe." -- Honestly, what is needed in the current scenario is decision making grounded in the betterment of the game. I think the ICC's response should be apolitical, humane and conciliatory. How will the needs of Zimbabwean cricket players and Zimbabwean cricket fans be best served? That's what is important.

David Weston: "Hi Liam, do you think there are many young players coming through the system in Zimbabwe?" -- The talent's still coming through, and there are still opportunities to be found. But those opportunities are limited, and any decent player would be crazy not to explore what might be on offer overseas. Muzarabani's made the choice to move to England. Another youngster, Liam Roche, is looking into a move to New Zealand.

K. Williamson: "Sorry to intrude on this fascinating conversation, but what's your take on the Cricket World Cup match going on right now, Liam?" -- This time, let's hope nice guys finish first. I think what we're witnessing is the effect of context on cricket. On any other day, New Zealand's total wouldn't be worth nearly enough. But this is a World Cup semi-final, and things are just ... different.

12.25pm The start has obviously been delayed, and we're yet to hear anything since the last pitch inspection a couple of minutes ago. We'll update you as soon as we hear anything.

Simba T: "I think Zimbabwe problems begins and ends with/at the Administration. Young and talented players now opt to finish school first (which is not a problem at all) because the Zim cricket doesn't seem to guarantee a good future in cricket" -- While I agree that ZC's administrative cattywampus over the years hasn't helped, lets not pretend that cricket in Zimbabwe happens in a vacuum. Zimbabwean cricket reflects the society in which it is played, for better or worse. There are wider issues at play, too.

Lewin Zoe Zoe: "@Simba T, Zimbabwe is facing a challenge of cricket gods, these guys whether they contribute or not they will still find themselves in the starting XI. What's happening to all the youngstars who were raised through the structures?" -- Most of the names that would be familiar to you from the fringes - Musakanda, Jongwe, Nyumbu etc - are currently plying their trade in club cricket in England on the off season.

Kuber Joshi: "Zim has a lot of Good & Experienced Players. Ervine, Williams, Taylor, Raza, Mpofu, Jarvis, Tiripano. Mire is a good finding as well. Not long ago, they defeated Pakistan in a Test Match, but now they are being thrashed by Netherlands & Ireland. Could it be, Netherlands & Ireland have risen the bar?" -- You've hit upon an important point, Kuber. While there has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth from Zimbabwe's fans about these defeats, it's not as if a loss to these Ireland or Netherlands sides are that shocking. There's virtually no difference in quality between Ireland and Zimbabwe (and the first two ODIs reflected that, being very close), while the gulf between the top ranked Associates and bottom ranked Full Members has long been bridged.

A. Sensarma: "Mr Brickhill, do you think Sikandar Raza should be made the Zimbabwean team's captain again?" -- It's my humble opinion that Sikandar Raza should be, at the very least, Zimbabwe's T20 captain.

larry kwirirayi: "I think the uncertainty around the future of the game for Zimbabwe and not getting paid after the whole drama with the government is hurting the playing. Guys' heads are turned and they are not sure if they will be a test playing nation on the 19th." -- You're undoubtedly right, Larry. The whole SRC / ZC brouhaha has been a massive distraction. Will Command Cricket work for Zimbabwe? The situation is clearly deeply nuanced.

Rahul: "Liam - How have Zimbabwe coped with not qualifying for the CWC2019 ? They should have ideally been in UK now ." -- The short answer, Rahul, is not very well. In the immediate aftermath of that failed qualifying attempt, Brendan Taylor made some encouraging noises about the loss to UAE motivating him to stay on and do better next time. But the reality is that it was a trip to England that Zimbabwe needed. Both as a financial salve, and as a way to maintain a presence on the world stage. Had Zimbabwe qualified, Blessing Muzarabani and Graeme Cremer - their most promising quick, and their best bowler - would still be around. That defeat to UAE was epoch-ending.

Simba T: "Let's discuss what could be Zimbabwe's problem/s... being whitewashed by Netherlands and Ireland in ODI..." -- Our Zimbabwe expert Liam Brickhill is around to answer your questions too. So ask your questions!

12 noon We should've had the toss right about now, but the drizzle has postponed that. What do you guys suggest we do to bide time?

Abhijato: "Tell you what, as an India fan I won't mind tuning into this match for a while..."

11.45am mike: "Hows the weather looking?" -- Not too promising, to be honest. The tweet below is evidence. I don't think we'll have the scheduled noon toss. But it's a T20I, so long way to go before the match is called off. And we could always have a five-overs-a-side shootout.

11.40am Hello and welcome to ESPNcricinfo's coverage of Zimbabwe's tour of Ireland. It's been a horrific couple of weeks for a fancied Zimbabwe outfit that has lost six ODIs straight to Netherlands and Ireland. But a change in format may just be the spark Zimbabwe need to turn their fortunes around - my name is Sreshth Shah, and together with Liam Brickhill, we welcome you to the contest in Stormont.

ZIM in IRELAND and NL 2019 News