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Posts Tagged ‘ireland’

Afghanistan, everyone’s favourite heartwarming warzone-based cricket team of the last year, have won the ACC Twenty20 Cup, beating the UAE in the final by 84 runs. Mohammad Nabi starred with both bat (73 from 38 balls) and ball (4-7 from just nine deliveries) as the Afghans won the trophy which they had to share with Oman two years ago.

Afghanistan will shortly play their first ‘official’ Twenty20 International matches in the next World Twenty20 Qualifier, where they have been drawn in a group alongside Ireland, Scotland and the USA.

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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 go into the One Day series against Australia still riding relatively high on the euphoria of Ashes victory, althouhg their confidence must surely have taken a serious knock following their close escape in Ireland and their awful start to a rain-interrupted innings in Manchester on Sunday. The prospect of 7 ODI matches without KP or Freddie may not be enough to keep the interest of the casual viewer (or even the Australian coach), but there is still likely to be plenty of interest from fans keen to sample a little post-Ashes bonhomie from a side which, lest we forget, is actually in good ODI form.

For Australia, the 50-over matches are a chance to salvage something from a disappointing summer of World Twenty20 and Ashes failure. The return of Brett Lee to the side added some potency at Old Trafford, and with him opening the attack alongside Mitchell Johnson, England’s top order will have to show a lot more solidity than has been traditional if the home side are to have any success.

The two sides haven’t actually met in a ‘traditional’ One Day International since the 2007 World Cup, but Australia’s dominance is such that England will do well to win even two or three of the seven matches, particularly without their strongest One Day players.

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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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Dutch cricket has had quite a summer – as England can attest – but it will no longer be able to rely on the services of ‘Don’t Call Him Dirty’ Dirk Nannes, who has been called up by Australia (at last) for the Twenty20 internationals at Old Trafford that will follow the Ashes. Although Nannes‘ appearances for the Netherlands do not preclude him from playing for Australia, were he to play for the latter it would mean he was ineligible to play for the ‘minnows’ again for at least four years (by which time he would be 37).

There may be some consolation for Dutch cricket fans in reports that their side may be included in the One-Day competition that the ECB are planning to replace the current Friends Provident Trophy with in their (relative) shake-up of county cricket. Given that Ireland and Scotland have had an involvement in the FPT for some time, this is likely to be welcomed as an opportunity for Dutch players to gain experience against a higher quality of opposition than it the case at the moment.

If that’s not enough to console Dutch fans, they can perhaps take some comfort in the fact that Nannes’ selection for the Aussies has brought pleasure to others

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In honour of Umar Gul’s remarkable 5-6 yesterday (youtube here), here are four more of the best-ever T20I bowling performances:

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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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