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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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