Ireland v West Indies, World T20 2012, Group B, Colombo September 23, 2012

Johnston hits out at lack of fixtures


Trent Johnston, the Ireland bowler who has been at the heart of many of their greatest performances, has marked what could be his farewell match in a major tournament by condemning the reluctance of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe to play them and put at risk their international status.

Ireland must beat West Indies at the R Premadasa stadium on Monday night to reach the Super Eights and their cause has not been helped by sickness that has been raging through the squad. Ed Joyce was the first player to suffer from a gastric illness which has since laid low half-a-dozen players and members of the coaching staff.

Johnston was one of those who did make the final training session but he was in a far from conciliatory mood, resentful over perpetual references to Ireland as 'minnows' and the barriers that he believes exist to limit Ireland's chances of joining the game's elite.

"Why don't Bangladesh and Zimbabwe want to play us?" he asked. "I know why, because they're scared that we'll beat them and that we'll go above them in the rankings. I know that for a fact.

"And the other guys simply can't play us because they've got programmes left, right and centre and IPL, BPL and Big Bash, blah, blah, blah. So I can understand that the big boys play too much cricket and that they ask how they can squeeze a series in with Ireland. But something has got to be done, because we don't want to be at this 'minnow' level as well, which is what the commentators call us.

"We're associate cricketers and we're aware of that, we're not 'minnows'. I'm sick of hearing 'minnow' on the TV. It's disrespectful to the guys that are here training and putting the work in and it's disrespectful to the people back in Ireland and back in Afghanistan and the others in the associate levels who put so much time and effort into cricket.

"Bangladesh and Zimbabwe aren't 'minnows' either. They're Full Member countries and they've been called 'minnows' in this World Cup and personally I'm just sick and tired of it."

Niall O'Brien looked around Ireland's depleted numbers at practice at the P Sara Stadium and admitted: "It's not ideal but from a personal point of view I have been sick before and you sometimes find new a resolve. It's a Twenty20 and there will be a lot of adrenalin so hopefully that will overcome any illness in the camp."

Ireland have it in their power to plot an unlikely route to the Super Eights because of Australia's victory against West Indies on Saturday night, which swung Australia's way by some rousing strokeplay from Shane Watson and David Warner before heavy rain forced a premature end.

Ireland's own defeat against Australia had involved some testy on-field exchanges with both these batsmen. O'Brien recognised the irony that Ireland's two Australian bête noirs had come to their rescue.

"Watson and Warner weren't the most popular in the Irish camp a few days earlier but they played really well and it was a great result for us and give us a pick-me-up," he said. "West Indies are specialists in this form of the game, travelling the world to play T20, so it is not going to be easy. They can obviously be destructive but they also have the ability to get out as well."

West Indies have been stunned into near-silence by the manner of their defeat against Australia. They brought the tournament alive by scoring 191 for 8, encouraging all those who had termed them tournament favourites, but then bowled dreadfully as Australia made 100 for 1 in 9.1 overs in reply.

Ireland know that with unsettled weather around that Duckworth Lewis could again come into play and that all manner of eventualities might even up the contest. It is a thought that does not find too much favour with Darren Sammy, West Indies captain. "I think the crowd wants a 20-over match," he said. "So hopefully the weather stays good and we get a full game."

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on September 26, 2012, 13:58 GMT

    I think one solution for Ireland is to play against IPL team for 20/20 and to develop 20/20 cricket and then focus on 50/50 cricket and test cricket.

  • anton on September 26, 2012, 6:53 GMT

    Looks like Ireland will lose yet another player to England in Boyd Rankin. Frankly, I expect him to be picked by England within a year. He has pace and is 6ft 8 so can extract bounce off the pitch. He has a good average in county cricket so his credentials are already there. It will be sad for Ireland and maybe it is time to give them test status so they don't lose any more players to England.

  • Peter on September 25, 2012, 23:46 GMT

    Of course Ireland need more competition at this level, & to measure themselves against Bangladesh & Zimbabwe is the perfect barometer. They do have, at least the opportunity for their players to develop their skills in the country league if they are good enough. If they are serious, & the ICC is serious for this to occur, they need to look at dual eligibility for players such as Morgan, who can be available for tests for England & eligible for Ireland (if he chooses) in the shortened formats. This should help Ireland's progress to the top tier, as quality players are needed for rookies who come into the team.

  • Dummy4 on September 25, 2012, 17:31 GMT

    What this tournament shows that even T20 is a Big Boys affair... Minnows should create their own league or stop playing cricket. Once in every 5 years we see one minnow beating up a Big Boy, (may be the BD beating NZ a while ago was a huge exception) but then even all fouled up Windies become a threat to the top sides if people like Gayle show up. Where as no matter how many Habib-ulBashar, Ashraful and Shakib BD produces, no matter if a Heath streak or Jhonsons Rhodesians throw in, and Irishmen Jhonstons and O Briens do not make a difference. Kenya made into semis of the WC ages ago, so what?

    True that they might have added spice to cricket, But sorry guys the last minnow to become a power was 20 years ago, and now they have Murli and Sangakarra and Mahela and the days when minnow could become a power are over, the club is complete.

  • Dummy4 on September 25, 2012, 12:59 GMT

    Create a two tier Test Championship..simple as that...Div 1 : Aus, Eng, Ind, Pak, SA, SL...Div 2: NZ, WI, Ban, Zim, Ire, Afg. 6 teams in each Div, 1 up and 1 down.

  • Dummy4 on September 25, 2012, 10:35 GMT

    Trent Johnson forgot that Bangladesh has just toured Ireland & Banglawashed them in a T20 series. Bangladesh went to play that series at their own expense. They had to bear all the costs of that tour. Bangladesh is a test playing nation. Why Bangladesh will play against such an associate nation who can't even arrange a sponsor for a series, can't arrange a TV channel to broadcast international cricket matches? Moreover, Will Bangladesh pay everytime they tour Ireland? No. Bangladesh is concentrating on how can they play more matches against bigger opponents. Bangladesh has beaten Zimbabwe & Ireland so many times that Bangladesh doesn't need to prove anything against them.

  • Dummy4 on September 25, 2012, 10:34 GMT

    I think calling second level teams as minnows is not at all justified. Ireland, Bangladesh, Zimbawe, and Afghanistan are playing in this tournament and should be treated in the same manner as other countries. Look how Afghanistan played against India. I think they bowled exceptionally well and it was their batting and more so their experience that let then down otherwise they could have easily won the match. They bowled and fielded even better than any other international side. Once they have qualified for the international level, then they should be respected well, even by the commentators.

  • anton on September 25, 2012, 10:27 GMT

    Yopu can say tst cricket has been around for 200 years and will be another 200. I don't agree. If people don't attend tst matched, TV companies will not pay to show matches played out in front of miniscule corwds. Even in England where you generally get biggish test crowds, no terestrial company saw it viable to bid to show it. They were lucky Sky came up with finds as usual. Sky didn't have to pay as much as they did because they had no rival bids.

    Things can move very quickly. If ICC are not careful, top players from leading countries will shift to 20-20 cricket full time and who would want to watch second players in test action? Things can move very quickly. Some wealthy businessmen can set up their own league and bypass ICC altogether. There will come a time when people will be able to build their reputations in 20-20 alone. In fact, we have seen a few players move into test cricket after great performances in 20-20 cricket in recent times.

  • anton on September 25, 2012, 10:19 GMT

    Yes I do believe the only way test cricket will survive is to have a test championship. I think a world championship of three tiers is required, as someone suggested here. Tier A could be Australia, England, SA, WI, SL, India, Pakistan, NZ; tier B: Zim, Bangladesh, Ireland, Holland, tier C: Another four countries.

    The two teams finishing in tier A team will face off in a one off test match to determine world test champions while bottom team will relegate to teir B. Top team from tier B will see promotion to tier A. Bottom team in tier B will relgate to tier C and and top team from tier C will promote to tier B.

    The world championship has to be played over a two-year cycle to make it viable in my opinion 9although how fit a home and away series in a two period I don't know). Four years will be too long for countries to wait and may lose motivation in the fight for promotion/relegation. A world championship has to be quite short in order to keep context.

  • Hamdan on September 25, 2012, 8:47 GMT

    I really do think we need to a two tier system, especially in Test. With the top six playing each other twice and the top two teams of the second division once in a four year cycle. The bottom team being relegated at the end of the 4 year cycle. This will create a more competitive environment for the smaller teams as they will get two regular test playing teams to compete with regularly and motivate the bottom two teams to improve their performance so they can play/stay in the top tier.

  • No featured comments at the moment.