If there is an abiding image of Aaron Redmond – and there probably is not – it is of a batsman hanging on for grim life. After a short while the struggle becomes all too much and off he goes, wicket surrendered, a merciful release for all.
This was the Redmond of 2008, the scorer of 54 painfully etched runs in six Test innings in England from a total of 180 balls. It was patently not the Redmond who appeared for New Zealand yesterday in their first Super Eight round match of the World Twenty20.
Here was a dasher, a man freed from responsibility, a man with nothing to lose. In the first over of the match he struck three fours, in the second another four and by the time he had faced a mere 30 balls he had 13 boundaries in a rumbustious 63 which had effectively put Ireland out of the match.
There was simply to be no comeback from that for Ireland for whom the going in this tournament is now becoming extremely tough. They might find the Super Eights not so super and yesterday's loss by 83 runs, following the defeat by eight wickets to India on Wednesday, will hardly put them in good heart for their matches against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
They were never in the hunt chasing a target of 199 to win, which was smaller than it might have been. The margin of defeat may have been 83 runs but it could have been 103 and there were four run outs as they pursued the impossible.
It is the perennial problem for cricketing minnows in general and Ireland in particular. One good performance – as against Bangladesh in this tournament and Pakistan in the last World Cup – can take them to the next stage when it all becomes too much.
The overwhelming defeat yesterday puts firmly into perspective the comments last week made by Warren Deutrom, the chief executive of Cricket Ireland when he was complaining about the glass ceiling Ireland appeared to have hit. He urged the International Cricket Council to let Ireland know what they had to do to become a Test playing nation. Plenty, it could be said after the last two days.
In his defence Deutrom was merely suggesting Ireland had done everything asked of them and needed some encouragement. But despite the occasional triumph the gap in class is obvious as it was again yesterday.
Redmond was briefly magnificent. He was called into the Kiwis' squad to replace the swashbuckling opener and bon viveur, Jesse Ryder who had been committed to hospital suffering a groin infection and has been ruled out of the rest of the competition.
Redmond could have been Ryder himself, save for a little difference in girth. His strokes against bowling which was much too imprecise were assertive and controlled. New Zealand might not have chosen him except he happened to be in the country. He has never capped at any of the short forms of the game and was in the country because he is this summer's professional at Farnworth in the Bolton League.
He was a late replacement there as well, when the club failed to secure a work permit for their first choice, Saeed Anwar junior. Redmond has been a success and last week in a league match reduced to 25 overs (perfect timing considering his call up) apparently astonished onlookers by making 144 including 10 sixes.
"I think sometimes when you don't have time to think about it you have nothing to lose and it can come off you," he said. "I feel my game has grown in the past six months. Farnworth nets are on Tuesdays and Fridays so maybe I could go back for a net before the next game."
His acting captain, Brendan McCullum was understandably effusive and must have been as surprised as most other observers. "He played out of his skin, with great confidence and he set up the innings for us."
In the event, Ireland must have been pleased bordering on jubilant to restrict New Zealand to 198 but it was all over for them by the third over when the second wicket went down with just 15 on the board. Wickets went regularly and some of the dismissals were rather limp, the forlorn strokes and judgement of men who knew their fate.
The Kiwis were lethal in the field, not least their captain, and this might yet help them to make significant progress in this tournament. McCullum himself, having temporarily forsaken his wicketkeeping gloves, was especially spring-heeled.
They are, however, being debilitated by injuries to key players. Daniel Vettori, their regular captain, has yet to appear because of a sore bowling shoulder and optimistic noises about an imminent return have yet to become reality. Ross Taylor has a sore hamstring, Ryder is no more. But for them the Super Eights could be what they say.
The number of boundaries, from 30 balls faced, scored by Aaron Redmond.Reuse content