Australia v Ireland, World T20 2012, Group B, Colombo September 19, 2012

Teams now wise to Ireland - Watson

Having previously gone under the radar, there is no longer any underestimation of Ireland
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If you are successful in business or about to enter adulthood, you will be told endlessly to protect your good reputation at all costs. Avoid fraud and lying in the gutter at two in the morning. Shane Watson's advice for Ireland after Australia had peremptorily put them in their place was quite the opposite: their reputation is now so good that their chances of another giant-killing escapade are for the moment retreating.

Australia's win by seven wickets with 29 balls remaining did not tell the winners anything they did not already know, but the fact they were so on their mettle from the outset said more about Ireland. Watson, who removed their captain, William Porterfield, with the first ball of the match and then made 51 from 30 balls to make light of a target of 124, had more than earned the right to tell them that life might never be as easy again.

"It is probably going to get even harder for Ireland now," he said. "They know what they are going to get from the opposition is full tilt every single game. The better Ireland get the more people are going to make sure they are up for the game.

"That is taking nothing away from Ireland in the past, but with the quality of the players they have and what they have shown on the world stage in World Cups the biggest sides know that if they are slightly off the Irish can certainly take a game away from them. I am sure with the quality of players they are going to improve. It is a great thing for world cricket to see the quality of players they are bringing through."

The ball from Watson was banged in short at 123kph and Porterfield top-edged a hook to Starc at long leg. Watson had a neat response to the suggestion that it evoked memories of Porterfield's first-ball duck against England in Bangalore in last year's World Cup. "If it was a case of 'Here We Go Again' I'd be sitting in this press conference second and not first," he said, a suitable reminder that Ireland went on to win that game. But Porterfield got out for nought twice in one-day games this summer, against Afghanistan, and Australia when he was blown away first ball by Brett Lee on what was to become his farewell tour, so it follows a frustrating pattern.

Watson made no attempt to overdress the quality of the delivery. "I had been thinking about how to bowl the first over for about a day," he said. "We knew how important it was to make a statement and I knew as I was bowling the first over it starts with me. It was more to show intent as much as anything. It wasn't a wicket ball I suppose but luckily it just worked out that way. Also for it to be their captain made it a pretty important step for us."

Perhaps Ireland's stock will continue to rise through good planning and Watson will be proved correct that a potentially awkward phase will eventually run its course, although with England sniffing around for any player of true quality, it will not be easy. Boyd Rankin is the next in line, following Eoin Morgan and Ed Joyce, who has since made the reverse journey. His contract with Cricket Ireland ends in December, he has signed a three-year contract with Warwickshire, the county champions, and he pleads the need to limit his workload as a fast bowler to justify his decision to pursue what he describes as his "genuine ambition to play Test cricket".

Perhaps what they really need ahead of their second group game against West Indies on Monday is a spot of carousing in Colombo's bars - it is possible to find Guinness, too, although perhaps not to the quality of Grogans in Dublin where some of the customers look as if they have supped their fill for a very long time. Follow up with some tall tales about how they are thinking of becoming amateurs again and they might just have a chance.

Ireland's temerity in moving above Australia in the Twenty20 rankings had to be dismissed by Watson as "not a driving force". He has no choice when their ambitions extend to winning the tournament, but Australia's coach, Micky Arthur, had been able to remark that he would not relax until victory had been achieved against Ireland without anybody questioning his judgment.

The positives for Australia were simply that an apprehensive side with a patchy T20 record was immediately on the money. As long as the Premadasa pitches retain their pace, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins will be a challenging pair of fast bowlers and Brad Hogg will believe that his chinamen are going to be the story of the tournament.

But when they batted they merely underlined what everyone already knows - that Watson (his stand out the muscular six over midwicket against the left-arm spin of George Dockrell that brought up his 50 in 28 balls), Warner and Mike Hussey are a strong top three and it is the middle order that needs the sort of high-pressure situations in which it can advance its reputation.

If that does not happen then as the pitches turn and become more reliable it would be no surprise to see Daniel Christian's medium pace quietly jettisoned in favour of David Hussey, an extra batsman, and asked him to fiddle through a fifth-bowler spell with Glenn Maxwell.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Meety on September 21, 2012, 11:43 GMT

    @Biggus on (September 20 2012, 13:03 PM GMT) - uh oh, I see you have made a friend! LOL! I agree, NZ is my favouite "enemy" too! I must say I'd seriously consider drafting them in Rugby though!

  • sharidas on September 21, 2012, 4:56 GMT

    Looking at the current form, I earnestly believe that Ireland should come into the Test playing arena. I wish the Irish would be welcomed so, with a tour of India. It is due.

  • zenboomerang on September 21, 2012, 2:49 GMT

    Biggus don't ever repeat "we Aussies" as many would disagree with you outright... & what gives you the right to assume what "we" think... A number of Oz netballers publicly supported a NZ team winning the comp last season (which they did) & I personally was very happy for the team... PS: very glad that you assume I'm Indian, I take that as a compliment, but in reality I have a very strong & long history within Oz... Try actually reading my posts before commenting - seems to be a problem with a number of posters here... Seems your moniker suits your words...

  • Biggus on September 20, 2012, 13:03 GMT

    @pat_one_back-We Aussies are quite fond of the Kiwis, but not that fond, besides if you made such a suggestion to one of those Kiwis you might not walk out of the room in one piece. The Kiwis are one of our favourite 'enemies', why would we want to draft them? We'd lose a good 'enemy'.

  • zenboomerang on September 20, 2012, 12:01 GMT

    @Irelandcricketfan... Well said mate :) ... Fully agree & it would be great to see Ireland & another team playing a tri-series in Oz (or away)... The fans are keen but the ICC & senior management haven't pulled in their waist-lines to accommodate this... I would really support this...

  • Snick_To_Backward_Point on September 20, 2012, 11:45 GMT

    Does this mean Oz reclaim their no. 9 spot from Ireland? Mr Randyson, welcome back. Thought we'd lost you to the Matrix for good which would have meant losing my daily chuckle. Hope Oz win a few more, might see you back on the threads more!

  • Vindaliew on September 20, 2012, 11:33 GMT

    Okay, I apologise for taking Watto out of context. He's one of the few Aussie players I do like after all. however, I still think that it sounds like "you only won last time because people went easy on you, we're wise to your tricks now, so don't expect such freebies in the future", and that's not a nice thing to say. By saying we now recognise you and play you with respect, implies that they didn't before, and that's why they lost.

  • Irelandcricketfan on September 20, 2012, 10:31 GMT

    I don't see these comments as an insult, and with hindsight, I don't mind the banter on the pitch (however heated) because, likewise, it shows we are now sufficiently 'grown up' to be treated seriously. I just wish teams would extend that treating us seriously into offering us more games.

  • tinkertinker on September 20, 2012, 6:35 GMT

    I know some people just salivate waiting for a chance to bash the aussies but how on earth could anybody take these comments to be a insult to the irish team?

  • RandyOZ on September 20, 2012, 4:15 GMT

    It's not gonna help that England will continue poaching their players.

  • Meety on September 21, 2012, 11:43 GMT

    @Biggus on (September 20 2012, 13:03 PM GMT) - uh oh, I see you have made a friend! LOL! I agree, NZ is my favouite "enemy" too! I must say I'd seriously consider drafting them in Rugby though!

  • sharidas on September 21, 2012, 4:56 GMT

    Looking at the current form, I earnestly believe that Ireland should come into the Test playing arena. I wish the Irish would be welcomed so, with a tour of India. It is due.

  • zenboomerang on September 21, 2012, 2:49 GMT

    Biggus don't ever repeat "we Aussies" as many would disagree with you outright... & what gives you the right to assume what "we" think... A number of Oz netballers publicly supported a NZ team winning the comp last season (which they did) & I personally was very happy for the team... PS: very glad that you assume I'm Indian, I take that as a compliment, but in reality I have a very strong & long history within Oz... Try actually reading my posts before commenting - seems to be a problem with a number of posters here... Seems your moniker suits your words...

  • Biggus on September 20, 2012, 13:03 GMT

    @pat_one_back-We Aussies are quite fond of the Kiwis, but not that fond, besides if you made such a suggestion to one of those Kiwis you might not walk out of the room in one piece. The Kiwis are one of our favourite 'enemies', why would we want to draft them? We'd lose a good 'enemy'.

  • zenboomerang on September 20, 2012, 12:01 GMT

    @Irelandcricketfan... Well said mate :) ... Fully agree & it would be great to see Ireland & another team playing a tri-series in Oz (or away)... The fans are keen but the ICC & senior management haven't pulled in their waist-lines to accommodate this... I would really support this...

  • Snick_To_Backward_Point on September 20, 2012, 11:45 GMT

    Does this mean Oz reclaim their no. 9 spot from Ireland? Mr Randyson, welcome back. Thought we'd lost you to the Matrix for good which would have meant losing my daily chuckle. Hope Oz win a few more, might see you back on the threads more!

  • Vindaliew on September 20, 2012, 11:33 GMT

    Okay, I apologise for taking Watto out of context. He's one of the few Aussie players I do like after all. however, I still think that it sounds like "you only won last time because people went easy on you, we're wise to your tricks now, so don't expect such freebies in the future", and that's not a nice thing to say. By saying we now recognise you and play you with respect, implies that they didn't before, and that's why they lost.

  • Irelandcricketfan on September 20, 2012, 10:31 GMT

    I don't see these comments as an insult, and with hindsight, I don't mind the banter on the pitch (however heated) because, likewise, it shows we are now sufficiently 'grown up' to be treated seriously. I just wish teams would extend that treating us seriously into offering us more games.

  • tinkertinker on September 20, 2012, 6:35 GMT

    I know some people just salivate waiting for a chance to bash the aussies but how on earth could anybody take these comments to be a insult to the irish team?

  • RandyOZ on September 20, 2012, 4:15 GMT

    It's not gonna help that England will continue poaching their players.

  • Chris_P on September 20, 2012, 1:10 GMT

    @Vindaliew Try to think positively so it helps misunderstanding. He obviously alluded to the fact that teams had not been at their top against them and were thinking of the next game rather the game at hand. Is the glass half empty to you instead of being half full?

  • RoJayao on September 19, 2012, 23:07 GMT

    Oh fair dinkum how over sensitive are some people? Vindaliew, Watson was actually paying Ireland a compliment, saying they had become good enough to be a threat to any team that thinks playing an associate country, and that's what they are, is more like an exhibition game. Is Australia, or India, or Pakistan playing a match against Canada, or Bahamas anything more than an exhibition? Of course not. Watson is saying Ireland are now well beyond that level AND that it's a "great thing for world cricket". Time to chill-ax pal and go back to your crayons!

  • __PK on September 19, 2012, 21:51 GMT

    Vindaliew, you've got it all wrong. "...taking nothing away from..." is similar to "notwithstanding". It means that he realises he sounds like he's saying they were substandard, but that's not his intention. And he's not insulting Ireland, merely saying that other nations underestimated them. How can that be an insult?

  • Masud_BITK on September 19, 2012, 21:40 GMT

    As an Australia supporter, I like to see that Australia is destroying every games in the same style. However, they have to be very careful that destroying Ireland does not mean all. Next day, you might be self-destroyed by some other team, if you play such an agressive mind set. Just be careful and good think better with calmness.

  • pat_one_back on September 19, 2012, 21:25 GMT

    Fair point from Watto I thought, you only have to be the best team on the day and Ireland would recognise that their opposition are now coming increasingly prepared having seen what can happen when Ireland fire. Disappointing to read of all the Aussie chatter on the field, it's an art of quality not quantity, perhaps they need to adjust from the longer format... Hey Like Ireland & England, maybe Kiwi's with enough talent should get a shot at playing for Aust ;-)

  • Vindaliew on September 19, 2012, 16:37 GMT

    How can Watto say that "That is taking nothing away from Ireland in the past" when all he's saying is that other teams have not given their all previously? That's just saying that Ireland only won because other teams didn't play to their best. It's one thing to insult people, another to claim that you're not taking anything away.

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  • Vindaliew on September 19, 2012, 16:37 GMT

    How can Watto say that "That is taking nothing away from Ireland in the past" when all he's saying is that other teams have not given their all previously? That's just saying that Ireland only won because other teams didn't play to their best. It's one thing to insult people, another to claim that you're not taking anything away.

  • pat_one_back on September 19, 2012, 21:25 GMT

    Fair point from Watto I thought, you only have to be the best team on the day and Ireland would recognise that their opposition are now coming increasingly prepared having seen what can happen when Ireland fire. Disappointing to read of all the Aussie chatter on the field, it's an art of quality not quantity, perhaps they need to adjust from the longer format... Hey Like Ireland & England, maybe Kiwi's with enough talent should get a shot at playing for Aust ;-)

  • Masud_BITK on September 19, 2012, 21:40 GMT

    As an Australia supporter, I like to see that Australia is destroying every games in the same style. However, they have to be very careful that destroying Ireland does not mean all. Next day, you might be self-destroyed by some other team, if you play such an agressive mind set. Just be careful and good think better with calmness.

  • __PK on September 19, 2012, 21:51 GMT

    Vindaliew, you've got it all wrong. "...taking nothing away from..." is similar to "notwithstanding". It means that he realises he sounds like he's saying they were substandard, but that's not his intention. And he's not insulting Ireland, merely saying that other nations underestimated them. How can that be an insult?

  • RoJayao on September 19, 2012, 23:07 GMT

    Oh fair dinkum how over sensitive are some people? Vindaliew, Watson was actually paying Ireland a compliment, saying they had become good enough to be a threat to any team that thinks playing an associate country, and that's what they are, is more like an exhibition game. Is Australia, or India, or Pakistan playing a match against Canada, or Bahamas anything more than an exhibition? Of course not. Watson is saying Ireland are now well beyond that level AND that it's a "great thing for world cricket". Time to chill-ax pal and go back to your crayons!

  • Chris_P on September 20, 2012, 1:10 GMT

    @Vindaliew Try to think positively so it helps misunderstanding. He obviously alluded to the fact that teams had not been at their top against them and were thinking of the next game rather the game at hand. Is the glass half empty to you instead of being half full?

  • RandyOZ on September 20, 2012, 4:15 GMT

    It's not gonna help that England will continue poaching their players.

  • tinkertinker on September 20, 2012, 6:35 GMT

    I know some people just salivate waiting for a chance to bash the aussies but how on earth could anybody take these comments to be a insult to the irish team?

  • Irelandcricketfan on September 20, 2012, 10:31 GMT

    I don't see these comments as an insult, and with hindsight, I don't mind the banter on the pitch (however heated) because, likewise, it shows we are now sufficiently 'grown up' to be treated seriously. I just wish teams would extend that treating us seriously into offering us more games.

  • Vindaliew on September 20, 2012, 11:33 GMT

    Okay, I apologise for taking Watto out of context. He's one of the few Aussie players I do like after all. however, I still think that it sounds like "you only won last time because people went easy on you, we're wise to your tricks now, so don't expect such freebies in the future", and that's not a nice thing to say. By saying we now recognise you and play you with respect, implies that they didn't before, and that's why they lost.