Luxury in Bangalore with England in store
The opening game against Bangladesh last Friday was my 100th for Ireland in all competitions, and I should really have been celebrating a win. I suppose if we don’t qualify for the quarter-finals it will never get out of our system. That said, it’s gone and now my complete focus is on the England game this afternoon. It’s disappointing, but it’s a game of cricket, and unless it’s a tie like the other day, someone has to lose.
Although I didn’t have a happy time with the bat, I was pleased with the way I bowled. It wasn’t easy coming on after they had got off to such a quick start, but I had a game plan to bowl tight on leg and middle stump to deny them room, and it worked.
It was a great bonus to get the wicket of Imrul Kayes thanks to a brilliant piece of work from Nobby (Niall O’Brien) standing up. He’s as good as anyone in the business, and I think he showed just what he’s capable of. If you’re a batsman and you make the slightest mistake, then you’re gone, as we’ve all seen over the last coupe of years with him.
I can’t leave the Bangladesh game without a word about their supporters and the atmosphere they created, not just at the game, but also in the surrounding environs of the stadium. It’s hard to convey the passion they have for cricket to fans back in Ireland. I suppose a good analogy would be the reception that the Ireland soccer team received in Dublin in the hey days of the European Championships in 1988 or the World Cup in 1990.
That’s the sort of adulation that Bangladesh supporters have for their cricketers, and they were hanging off buildings and telegraph poles in their thousands to pay tribute to their players. They are so fanatical about their cricket and they definitely got Bangladesh over the finish line in what was a vital game for both of us.
We’ve moved onto Bangalore and are staying in the ITC Royal Gardenia hotel with the England and Indian teams. I have to say that it’s a decent little spot! We’ve travelled around as a cricket team a fair bit over the past few years, so when you get to a hotel like this, you really appreciate it. We’ve stayed in some less than salubrious establishments in that time, but this one certainly doesn’t fit into that category.
A lot of the players’ friends and families have arrived here, and my fiancée Helena and my mother Frances arrive this weekend for the India game. It’ll be great to have them in town and it’s a great morale boost to the squad after being away for nearly a month now. We’re proud of ourselves as international cricketers, but that’s nothing compared to the pride our families feel for us. It makes you doubly determined to do well, knowing how much it means to them and friends back home.
We take on England today in what is a huge game for us. They have been in good form, with the bat especially. The opening pairing of Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen is as good as any in the competition, while Ian Bell has looked in supreme touch. We’ve given them a few close run games in recent times, but haven’t beaten them yet. We’ve a lot of respect for England, but no fear of them.
It’s a help having so many county players in our ranks, and they have been great assets in preparing for the game. We’re going to be positive, and take the game to England, and hopefully the next time we catch up, I’ll be talking about a famous Ireland win.