World Twenty20 2012 September 18, 2012

Can Ireland spring more surprises?


The exploits of the Ireland team at global ICC tournaments have become a colourful side narrative in recent years, from the thrilling humiliations of Pakistan and England at successive World Cups to their ousting of Bangladesh in the World Twenty20 group stage in 2009.

Ireland have put in place a roadmap to playing Test cricket and despite the talent drain across the Irish Sea - Boyd Rankin will retire after the tournament in the bid to pursue a career with England - they have built solid foundations in the limited-overs formats. Briefly ranked above Australia in T20Is earlier this month, the group meeting between the two will be eagerly anticipated by schadenfreude fans the world over, as well as by Ireland's miserly attack leader Trent Johnston, born in Wollongong, New South Wales, 38 years ago.

A hard-working team, Ireland have several players capable of making the difference in tight games. Allrounder Kevin O'Brien is instantly recognisable - even without the mangy purple dye job - after his record-breaking innings in Bangalore, while Paul Stirling and William Porterfield provide a potentially explosive opening partnership and Niall O'Brien brings experience of playing in the Bangladesh Premier League. If the ball swings, Middlesex seamer Tim Murtagh could be a canny addition to their set-up.

Key players

George Dockrell tends to play in red boots but that is not the only eye-catching thing about him. A tall left-arm spinner, the 20-year-old impressed for Somerset during the English domestic season and was the county's leading T20 wicket-taker, despite missing finals day while on duty at the Under-19 World Cup. You don't have to be Peter Falk to work out that his form in Colombo could be crucial.

Surprise package

Wicketkeeper Gary Wilson is a pugnacious batsman who has increasingly demonstrated his worth after deputising for the absent Niall O'Brien at the World Twenty20 Qualifier in March. He finished the county season as Surrey's first choice keeper and has made all three of his T20 half-centuries this year.


It seems odd to say it for one of the tournament minnows but Ireland will have to deal with the expectation that comes with being serial jack-in-the-boxes. Neither Australia nor West Indies will be taking them lightly and their chances of springing out of Group B rest on their ability to play with the same freedom that has characterised previous campaigns.

World T20 history

Ireland failed to qualify in 2007 but reached the super eights two years later, beating Bangladesh out of their group. They left the Caribbean in a right funk in 2010, after rain denied them the chance to chase England's meagre total of 120 and they were eliminated on net run-rate.

Recent form

A planned four-match series with South Africa A in August was abandoned due to poor weather and, prior to that, Ireland lost 3-0 at home to Bangladesh - though some measure of revenge was achieved in their final warm-up match. Ireland won 10 out 11 games at the World Twenty20 Qualifier, beating Afghanistan in the final, and have played much more T20 cricket this year than most of the Full Members.

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on September 19, 2012, 4:53 GMT

    as a sri lankan i think time has come to give the test status to ireland.they good enough to have it.

  • Dummy4 on September 19, 2012, 0:26 GMT

    @Meety I general agree with your views on most things on cricinfo. However saying a side has a great spirit and fight and don't give up is comparable with what Bailey said is a bit unfair.

    Granted it wasn't the worst thing Bailey could have said. Although I don't think anyone could say what Stirlo said as arrogance.

    I've always had a soft spot for Australia, I like their fighting spirit and doggedness attitude. It reminds me of Ireland in our sports teams. I have a bond also with Australia, as half my friends are living there and I've a lot of family there.

    I'd never intend on demeaning them, this game tomorrow is a huge hill to climb. However Ireland don't fear the big sides anymore...

  • Andrew on September 18, 2012, 23:58 GMT

    @Smith Robertson - there are a lot of fundamental differences between Kenya (then) & Ireland now. Kenya had a Board that was not run well (putting it lightly), Ireland players have access to County cricket - Kenya had almost zero. Kenya had no competitive matches, whereas now days the ICC have the Intercontinental Cup & Ireland feaure often in tours of England. I agree, they need at least provisional test status NOW, but they won't wither like Kenya did. @Colm Mooney - the fact is, IF Oz play their best, Oz win. So therefor the most important part of Oz preparation is to ensure that they execute their skills to the best of their ability. "Arrogance" is not a factor, EVERY team can be accused of arrogance based on quotes in an article! "We've a great team ethic and spirit, and we never know when we're beaten" could be considered arrogant. Ireland has a special place in Oz history - don't spoil it!

  • Dummy4 on September 18, 2012, 23:28 GMT

    @Anwaruzz...That was then this is now I mean how many top players of India have retired now and how many top players of Bangladesh have retired infact have any Bangladeshi players retired in the past 3-4 years? Can't you see that the Cricketing World is changing now? Yes its true Bangladesh are nowhere near to India or Pakistan but tell me why can't your India and the Pakistan team boost up their stats against a weak team like Bangladesh anymore? because both teams found Bangladesh extremely tough to beat comfortably at the Asia Cup. Also about Ireland being better than Bangladesh blah blah blah recent results of BAN-IRE suggest otherwise I mean Ireland lost to Bangladesh at last years World Cup and Bangladesh beat Ireland at Ireland 3-0 a few months back which certainly refutes that claim of yours. Ireland are a good and emerging team but tell me why doesn't this India play Ireland even in a one-off match excluding tournaments? :)

  • Dummy4 on September 18, 2012, 19:06 GMT

    I like the mention of Gary Wilson. Although Ireland to qualify from the groups will need to be firing from the start. While there is nothing to lose for Ireland and everything to gain, we know we can win.

    Going by the quotes coming from Australia, it's showing their arrogance is at an all time high. Nothing new in that from Australia.

    Ireland can beat these sides, Ireland don't fear them anymore.

    "We've a great team ethic and spirit, and we never know when we're beaten," Paul Stirling

  • Anwar uz on September 18, 2012, 18:41 GMT

    Don't anyone read that Ireland is good enough than Bangladesh, we are a laid back people, whenever there is a practice no matter game BAN do not take it seriously. It is simply BAN does not take ireland seriously. BAN is in their pace when they face sub-continental teams like ind and PAK. Just watch the game against NZ !!

  • david on September 18, 2012, 18:24 GMT

    perhaps after this game we will find out whos the stronger aus or irl. come on aussie come on

  • Dummy4 on September 18, 2012, 18:16 GMT

    This team needs full membership status simple as that otherwise they'll turn into Kenya which I would hate to see happen.

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