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13 May 2018

Ireland vs Pakistan Test Day 1: As it happened

All pictures provided by Cam Allen.

9:00am - finally land in Dublin, only 45 minutes late after a delay on the tarmac due to due poor weather at the destination. Not a good sign for the day's play.

9.45am - an easy taxi ride from Dublin airport to Malahide Cricket Club after picking up a coffee. The cab driver is very friendly; he doesn’t know much about cricket but knows of the match going on. I try to educate him on Test cricket, he’s stunned that it will theoretically still be going on Tuesday.

10.00am - Pick up accreditation and ensconce in the media centre. It's raining on and off outside, the covers firmly on the pitch and the ground staff are valiantly (futilely?) working with super soppers to keep the water from building up. The weather app on my phone says 10 degrees but feels like 6 - I believe it! And this is almost summer??

10.45am - Still in the media centre - play should start in 15 minutes but there's no chance of that. I'm sitting next to a journalist from a local Dublin radio station who made a live cross, trying to explain to the public the intricacies of Test cricket and how Pakistan has a proud cricket history. Rain is still falling in slow dribs and drabs - not enough to stop the Irish players from kicking around a football but enough to keep the covers on.

11.30am - Niall O’Brien has made his way in to the media centre to have a chat, he’s in a very jovial mood, smiles all round. Maybe it’s the very stylish hoodies and cable knit sweaters that the players are sporting? I must check out the merchandise tent. The wind is so strong that when one player kicking around a football tried to make a lofted pass, it boomeranged back to him - no joke.

12.15pm - Another inspection made by the umpires, no chance of play yet. The weather is a fickle beast; at one moment the clouds seem to lift and the next the rain intensifies. Despite all of this there is an impressive crowd which has come in via a steady stream all morning. You wouldn’t tell from looking at the stands, but the covered bars are jam-packed.

Covered bars are the place to be when it's raining and cold

1.30pm - No news is bad news - hardy spectators are departing Malahide for the surrounding pubs. Larry the Leprechaun, Cricket Ireland’s superfan, has been spotted in a bar, resplendent in his red beard and green top hat - sporting a placard that states ‘Ireland, #1 Test Nation, Undefeated 1877 to 2018’. Hard to argue with his logic. I'm happy to report that the food and beer outlets are first class, with excellent live music in the bars. If only there was action on the field to match.

Larry the Leprechaun - hard to miss!

2.00pm - The rain has increased so your intrepid reporter has adjourned to the shelter of a nearby pub. Friends are made from a group of Irish cricket supporters who have travelled to Malahide from Cork for the occasion. Their plan was to drive back on Sunday morning, but if there is no play today or Saturday they admit they’ll stay to Sunday night to see something. There is many people who have travelled to attend, including many Brits - several MCC egg and bacon ties have been spotted.  2.30pm - There is great debate at the bar about whether Ireland would be better to bat or bowl first if winning the toss - some argue that on a soft green pitch the Pakistanis would be most under pressure batting first, while others say their batting line up is perfect for these conditions. The pubs are full of green jerseys and a pleasing amount of Irish cricket shirts.

3.15pm - The inevitable has happened - play called off for the day. The forecast looks good for tomorrow though, people are very optimistic.

3.45pm - I asked an older Irish supporter about free to air broadcasting of cricket in Ireland, noting that RTE are only doing highlights. “There would be riots if RTE showed cricket for five full days” was the response - signs of cultural difficulties the sport still faces in the wider community.

Sunshine after play had been called off - where's the luck of the Irish!

4.00pm - You wouldn’t believe it, the sun is shining. Some days you can’t take a trick! Ah well, after waiting for hundreds of years what’s one more day eh? Time to trek back in to Dublin to do it all again tomorrow - hopefully next time with some cricket.

Did you make it to the ground for Day 1 of Ireland's first ever Test match? Let us know in the comments below.