The banana skin was avoided and a modicum of the momentum Andrew Strauss was searching for prior to the first ever one-day international between these two sides was gained, but this was a far from flawless performance by England here in Belfast. Marcus Trescothick, who posted his 11th one-day hundred, was superb, and Ian Bell gave the selectors a reminder of his capabilities with a well compiled 80, yet there was little else other than a good opening spell from Sajid Mahmood to draw satisfaction from.
The game, played in the shadow of Stormont Castle, may not have felt like a full international to those England players who played in last summer's Ashes, and they will need to perform far better than this if they are to defeat Sri Lanka in the NatWest series.
Stephen Harmison claimed three wickets in his first England appearance of the season, and it was good to see him bowling again, but he looked some distance from his best. He conceded 10 wides in his opening over and 58 runs in total. Perhaps his time over the weekend would have been better spent honing his bowling skills in Durham rather than watching England's footballers in Frankfurt.
England debutants Ed Joyce, Jamie Dalrymple and Glenn Chapple failed to sparkle against a side containing 11 international virgins. Joyce and Dalrymple are sure to get further opportunities to impress but Chapple, who left the field with an abdominal strain will be desperately hoping his injury is not serious and this proves to be his only game for England.
Throughout his 42-over occupation Trescothick showed just why he has scored more one-day hundreds than any other England batsman. Like Kevin Pietersen, who was omitted from yesterday's starting XI in order to give a hamstring strain further rest, Trescothick has the ability to nudge, dink and blast the ball to all corners of a cricket ground.
At the start of his innings Trescothick was at his destructive best. His fifty was brought up off the 42nd ball he faced and it was only the loss of three quick wickets that checked his scoring.
Joyce was the first to fall when he top-edged a pull and was caught at square-leg. Strauss was out to a similar shot when he pulled a long-hop straight at square-leg, and when Paul Collingwood went for 10 England, on 92 for 3, were in a spot of trouble.
It was at this stage that Trescothick wisely became more cautious. Bell was dropped from the Test side before the series against Sri Lanka and has done little at Warwickshire to push his cause. Yet, after a watchful start he provided Trescothick and his team with the assurance they needed.
Bell does not possess the range of strokes of Trescothick and this makes him easier to bowl at. Like Michael Vaughan, he is technically very correct but on too many occasions he hits the ball straight at fielders. Trescothick, however, is extremely difficult to bowl at.
The pair put on 142 for the fourth wicket before Trescothick was caught at long-on, and their partnership allowed England's lower order to bat aggressively. The approach allowed Geraint Jones, Dalrymple and Chapple to add 67 runs in the final eight overs of the innings. It was just as well they did.
Scoreboard from Stormont
England won toss
M E Trescothick c P Mooney b J Mooney 113
E C Joyce c O'Brien b Langford-Smith 10
*A J Strauss c Botha b O'Brien 4
P D Collingwood c Johnston b J Mooney 10
I R Bell c D Joyce b J Mooney 80
J W M Dalrymple c P Mooney b Langford-Smith 17
ÝG O Jones not out 20
G Chapple c O'Brien b Langford-Smith 14
L E Plunkett not out 3
Extras (b1 lb9 w18 nb2) 30
Total (for 7, 50 overs) 301
Fall: 1-37 2-60 3-92 4-234 5-258 6-264 7-285.
Did not bat: S J Harmison, S I Mahmood.
Bowling: Johnston 10-2-59-0; Langford-Smith 10-0-63-3; J F Mooney 10-0-79-3; O'Brien 10-0-47-1; P J K Mooney 5-0-17-0; McCallan 5-0-26-0.
D I Joyce b Harmison 0
ÝJ P Bray c Collingwood b Mahmood 22
A C Botha b Collingwood 52
W K McCallan c G Jones b Harmison 24
P G Gillespie c E Joyce b Collingwood 0
*D T Johnston c Collingwood b Harmison 5
A R White c G Jones b Bell 40
K J O'Brien c Plunkett b Bell 35
D Langford-Smith st G Jones b Dalrymple 12
J F Mooney not out 30
P J K Mooney not out 11
Extras (lb6 w17 nb9) 32
Total (for 9, 50 overs) 263
Fall: 1-10 2-60 3-118 4-121 5-127 6-135 7-209 8-210 9-235.
Bowling: Harmison 10-0-58-3; Chapple 4-0-14-0; Plunkett 10-0-48-0; Mahmood 7-1-21-1; Collingwood 5-0-26-2; Dalrymple 9-0-51-1; Bell 5-0-39-2.
England win by 38 runs
Umpires: R Dill and D B Hair.Reuse content