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Archive for the ‘ireland’ Category

There’s been lots of discussion recently around Ireland’s application for full membership of the ICC (and for the Test status that goes with it). Gaining membership of cricket’s top table has always been a difficult barrier for associate nations to overcome, with the list of requirements including such items as a “sufficiently large pool of players to draw from capable ofp erforming at the highest level of the game” and the “standing of cricket in society”.

The main issue for Ireland seems to be the absence of a domestic competition at a sufficiently high standard, although the likelihood of regular defeats and of not being taken seriously by the cricketing world in general also loom large. Whether or not elevation to Test status would prevent the exodus of Ireland’s best players to play for England is also a moot point.

A two-tier Test championship, or some sort of limited qualification in the way that associate nations gain eligibility to play full ODIs at the moment, could be the way forward, but it’s likely that internal politics will be the deciding factor.

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The Netherlands (or rather, the Dutch cricket board – the KNCB) have accepted the ECB’s offer to take part in their shiny new 40-over competition (not to be confused with their old, irrelevant 40-over competition).

Ireland, meanwhile, have (somewhat controversially, in some quarters) decided not to take part, partly due to the difficulties involved in balancing the Irish national team’s international schedule with the English domestic season as well as its own. The incongruity of playing 40-over cricket in England and 50-over cricket the rest of the time has also been cited as a factor.

Scotland will, however, be joining the Netherlands in the competition, alongside “an ECB Recreational XI” (your guess is as good as mine).

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England beat Ireland by a mere 2 runs in a rain-shortened thrller in Belfast, having posted a mere 203/9 from their 50 overs. Oddly enough, Owais Shah saved the day by taking a best-ever 3 for 16 after Trent Johnson had embarrassed England’s batsmen, claiming four wickets (including Trott and Bopara for ducks).

Australia will be hoping for better luck when they take on Scotland tomorrow in their own warm-up match, although it’s hard to see Scotland putting up the sort of fight that Ireland did – the latter beat the former convincingly last weekend.

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There’s not much time for England’s cricketers to get over their Ashes hangovers (although that seems less of a problem this time) as they head off to Belfast for a One Day International against Ireland. Paul Collingwood resumes his role as stand-in captain whilst Strauss takes a rest, and of course both Pietersen and Flintoff are recovering from surgery, but the inclusion of Irishman and spell-check confusion-causer Eoin Morgan in the England side will guarantee a fair bit of ‘banter’, as Irish captain William Porterfield put it.

Ireland have caused a few surprises in recent years (including their recent elimination of Bangladesh in the World Twenty20), and if any of the tourists are nursing sore heads, they may well be found out by the likes of Niall O’Brien and Boyd Rankin. Jonathan Trott looks set for his ODI debut in the match, and will be hoping to take to Limited Overs Internationals as naturally as he seemed to settle into Test cricket.

With the One Day series against Australia coming up, a comfortable win will be expected of England, but the Irish are often underestimated, and almost as often throw a spanner in the works. Also, it should of course be remembered that England’s recent record against so-called ‘minnows’ isn’t great.

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Group E

  • The West Indies may have hammered Australia, but that victory owed a lot more to Chris Gayle’s power-hitting than it did to competent fielding from the team at large. Conceding as many runs as the side has recently probably won’t see them progress any further, but such is Gayle’s talent that few totals are unequivocally out of reach if the Windies bat second.

Group F

  • Ireland have exceeded many expectations by reaching this stage, and the lone Associate side remaining in the competition will need more than a little luck to progress any further. The match against Pakistan, though is bound to rekindle memories of 2007, and there’s still a chance of another upset or two being sprung.
  • New Zealand haven’t shown as much promise in their two group matches as I thought they might, but the quality of Vettori, McCullum, Oram and Taylor (if all are fit at the same time) will raise hopes of a Semi Final place.

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Ireland qualified for the Super Eight stage of the World Twenty20 with a victory over Bangladesh that came courtesy of brothers Niall and Kevin O’Brien.

Of the two teams, Bangladesh looked more like the side unused to the big occasion, with wickets being thrown away with gay abandon throughout their innings, with Tamim Iqbal’s run out being a comic highlight. Mohammad Ashraful also committed the cricketing equivalent of hari-kiri in the sort of display that had coach Jamie Siddons up in arms. Apparently, one of the main issues is “getting to the bus on time”.

For Ireland, such minor transportation issues are as insignificant as the absence of Eoin Morgan. Roll on the Super Eights…

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One of the criticisms that a sport like cricket,with such a limited number of established international sides, tends to face with regard to international tournaments is that some of the Associate nations are simply making up the numbers, contributing to an ICC-sponsored illusion about the relative popularity of the game outside of its traditional strongholds.

There is often a grain of truth in this criticism, and it’s true that the Associates are often treated shabbily, having their best players poached by Test-playing nations and rarely getting the chance to play against the top teams. But the performances of the Netherlands last night, and to some extent Scotland today, have shown that there are teams outside of the ‘Big 9’ who can compete with the best.

Ireland also have high hopes of causing a stir, and if they can beat Bangladesh on Monday, there could be two Associates in the last eight of the ICC World Twenty20 – perhaps proving that the supposed minnows aren’t just along for the ride after all.

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The ICC World Twenty20 gets underway from Friday. Here’s part one of my preview:

India, the defending champions, will face high expectations after emerging triumphant from the thrilling finale last time out.  The intervening years have of course seen the development of the Indian Premier League, a competition that means India’s players have a wealth of Twenty20 experience (although the national side has only played five T20 Internationals since the last competition, winning only one). Twenty20 superstars such as MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh will certainly strengthen the holders’ chances of retaining the title.

Bangladesh caused a minor shock last time out when they beat the West Indies to make the Super Eight, and hopes will be high that they can reach that stage again. The likes of Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Ashraful and Shakib Al Hasan are potential match-winners, but no Bangladeshi player has yet set the IPL alight, and any progression beyond the last eight seems unlikely for the Tigers.

Ireland qualified for the tournament mainly thanks to an impressive performance from Andre Botha. The side will, however, be missing a key player of recent years in Eoin Morgan, who has been called into England’s squad for the tournament.  A surprise result against Bangladesh could see the Irish sneak into the Super Eight (much as they did in the last 50-over World Cup), but on balance the current side (especially without Morgan) may be hard-pressed to repeat the heroics of 2007.

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After five matches each, the wheat have been separated from the marginally more chaff-like wheat, and 12 teams have been reduced down to eight for the Super Eights stage, which it is to be hoped will be more than half well named. The teams eliminated, and therefore definitely not going to the finals (and also missing out on full ODI status for the next 4 years) are Bermuda, Denmark, Oman and Uganda.

  • Afghanistan only just edged through to this stage after losing three matches in a row, but their potential fairytale continues. Even if they don’t qualify, their success against the odds has been a rare good news story from their troubled country.
  • Canada look likely to qualify given their form in the group stages (including an impressive 131 off 99 balls from John Davison against Namibia), and their win over Scotland in the first stage puts them in a good position going into the Super Eights.
  • Ireland will also be well placed heading into this stage, with 6 points carried over from the group stage. Eoin Morgan’s England call-up, whilst unsurprising, will be a blow, but the as yet unbeaten Irishmen will be favourites to qualify for the finals with ease.
  • Kenya are also amongst the favourites to make it to 2011, with only one defeat in their five matches so far. Aging limbs may start to feel the strain at this stage, but they have enough quality to ensure qualification.
  • Namibia only made it to this stage by virtue of net run rate, and will not be expected to progress any further. One or two good results could see them sneak one of the six ODI places, but even that is a tall order.
  • The Netherlands, as expected, have done well so far, and are strong candidates for qualification if they can continue their form into this stage of the competition.
  • Scotland, on the other hand, have failed to live up to expectations so far, and their 148-run defeat to Canada will set alarms ringing. Their matches against the Netherlands and Kenya now take on ‘must-win’ status.
  • The UAE, a team of “baggage handlers and bursars” have exceeded expectations, finishing Group B with as many points as Kenya and the Netherlands, but will be seen as outsiders to beat those teams into the top four. Fifth or sixth place is, however, a realistic target.

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The final stage of qualification for the 2011 World Cup gets underway on Wednesday in South Africa, as 12 teams begin the battle for four places at the finals. Some have played at the finals before, whilst others have fought their way up from the obscurity of World Cricket League Division 5.

Canada’s build up to the World Cup Qualifier was severely disrupted when they were forced to cancel their tour of Zimbabwe following an outbreak of cholera, and they have their work cut out to qualify for the finals with a relatively weak side. If they are to make it, much will depend on emerging star Rizwan Cheema, who has made half-centuries against the West Indies and Sri Lanka in the last year.

Ireland made a big splash at the last World Cup in 2007, when they eliminated Pakistan and made it to the Super Eight stage, and the majority of the players involved in that success are likely to be involved again. Eoin Morgan, who has played for the England Lions, may be called up to the full England side before too long, so will want to put in some good performances in what may prove to be his last major tournament for Ireland.

Namibia will sadly be without the player who would undoubtedly have had the best name in the tournament in Kola Burger, but they come into the qualifier off the back of their best-ever performance in South African domestic One Day cricket. The Namibians have traditionally been stronger in multi-day cricket (they narrowly lost out to Ireland in the ICC Intercontinental Cup final), but batting under pressure in a 50-over game still seems to be an issue for them.

Oman isn’t renowned as a cricketing hotbed, and the majority of the side in South Africa will be subcontinental expatriates. Back in 2005 they lost every match in the ICC Trophy group stage, but beat Uganda and the USA in the play-off stages, and whilst they will be definite outsiders, they do have some players who are capable of winning matches.

Scotland emerged victorious last time this competition was held (when it was known as the ICC Trophy), and will be banking of the experience of -amongst others – Gavin Hamilton and John Blain to see them through. A number of the squad have had injury problems in the past, but if key players remain fit over the three weeks, the Scots will be expected to qualify for 2011 with relative ease.

Uganda have long been talked about as a dark horses in associate cricket, but have shown the sort of inconsistency that has brought wins over Kenya and Zimbabwe but also losses to Papua New Guinea. Bowling all-rounder Kenneth Kamyuka has the potential to make an impact, and making the Super Eight stage is a realistic target.

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Ireland, the Netherlands and (pending confirmation of Zimbabwe’s non-participation) Scotland have all qualified for next year’s World Twenty20, although the final of the qualifying tournament was rained off, so Ireland and the Netherlands had to share the trophy. So, who will Herschelle Gibbs be hitting for 36 in an over this time next year?

Ireland will obviously be hoping that the World Twenty20 will be an opportunity to replicate their heroics in last year’s Word Cup. Their success in qualifying was partially due to the astute bowling of Andre Botha, who took 8 -42 in the tournament as a whole, and also finished with the highest batting average of any ‘Irish’ player in the tournament.

The Netherlands’ star man is Ryan ten Doeschate, who continued his good Twenty20 form, and wasMan of the Match in the Semi-Final. Another Dutch success story was Peter Borren, who made a fair few runs as well as taking 5-76.

Scotland’s Dewald Nel took 9-60 across all matches, with an economy rate of 4.00, quite an achievement for a twenty20 bowler. Kyle Coetzer and Ryan Watson were the pick of the batsmen for the Scots, making 199 runs between them, with Watson’s highest score 54 and Coetzer making 48 not out.

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Not all countries are automatically invited to the Twenty20 party. Some have to qualify. There are three spots available for Associates in next year’s tournament, including the extra slot which has been created by the non-participation of Zimbabwe. Next weekend, the following teams will try and fill them:

  • Group A features Ireland, Scotland and Bermuda. Ireland should probably top this group, but you can never reckon against the mighty Sluggo.

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