ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

England v Ireland, World Cup 2011, Group B, Bangalore

Johnston says Ireland not ready for Tests

Brydon Coverdale in Bangalore

March 3, 2011

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John Mooney and Trent Johnston are overjoyed, England v Ireland, World Cup 2011, Bangalore, March 2, 2011
Trent Johnston: "One thing that we spoke about when we first came out here, was let's try to lift a nation, let's try to win a few games" © AFP
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The Ireland veteran Trent Johnston does not believe his country is ready for Test cricket despite Wednesday's triumph over England, which he described as "the greatest performance that Irish cricket has ever put on". However, Johnston said the Ireland team should be playing far more ODIs against the leading countries, and that they were spurred on by the ICC's decision to cut the next World Cup to 10 teams.

Johnston, 36, was captain of the Ireland side that upset Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup, but he said the win over England was a greater moment considering the size of the chase and the need to prove the Associates belong at the tournament. Ireland began with a fighting loss to Bangladesh and they are now a realistic chance to make the quarter-finals, but Johnston said talk of Test promotion was premature.

"I think Test cricket is probably a good while away," Johnston told ESPNcricinfo on the morning after Ireland's win. "We need to get things set up back in Ireland, the infrastructure and first-class setup and that sort of stuff. But one-day cricket and Twenty20, definitely, I think we proved yesterday that we can mix it with those guys.

"Without a World Cup in our season I'd say we'd play those guys two or three times a year, where we should be playing them 10 times a year. If we're doing that then we're beating Bangladesh in our first game because we know how to win those games. That's a big factor for us and Warren Deutrom, our CEO, has got a massive job on his shoulders to try and get us into that programme."

Last year, Ireland played four one-day internationals against Test-playing sides, two in Belfast against Bangladesh and one each against Australia and West Indies. The previous year, a one-off ODI against England, which Ireland lost by just three runs, was their only 50-over exposure to a full-member country, and this year they are scheduled to play another ODI against England in Dublin in August.

But it's at the World Cup that Ireland have really made their mark, after their St Patrick's Day triumph over Pakistan in 2007. In that tournament they also tied with Zimbabwe and in the Super Eights beat Bangladesh, but the Irish players could be watching the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand from a pub in Dublin, with pints of Guinness in hand.

"We have to prove that we want to be at the top table, it spurs us on a little bit more," Johnston said of the ICC's decision to reduce the number of teams. "At the end of the day it's a world game. It's not just the elites that play at World Cups. I think we warrant our selection there and warrant being there. I think we proved that against Bangladesh and we proved it yesterday against England, and hopefully we can do the same against India.

"We want to mix it with the big boys. We want to play those guys 10 or 20 times a year ... We just go out there and enjoy each other's success. I think that's the biggest thing, we go out there as a team. Whether we go out and get flogged or we win comprehensively or we get over the line like we did last night, we enjoy each other's success. That's what it comes down to. We play for each other, and I honestly couldn't say there's too many teams in the World Cup could do that."

Johnston was speaking at the team hotel in Bangalore, where the Irish celebrations had lasted into the small hours of the morning after Kevin O'Brien's record-breaking 50-ball century set up their three-wicket win. Phones were ringing all through the night, calls coming from friends and family back home, as well as a host of interview requests from Irish radio stations.

And the success couldn't have come at a better time for Ireland, a country that has struggled with a serious financial crisis over the past couple of years. At the same time, there has been plenty of support for a cricket team that has gone from being made up almost entirely of amateurs to now being a thoroughly professional outfit.

"It's been a tough 18 months or two years for Ireland," Johnston said. "The economy is not doing so well and what have you, but sporting wise it gets the nation together. Yesterday would prove that. There were radio stations ringing left right and centre, and TV stations. It was just like four years ago, and that's great. That's one thing that we spoke about when we first came out here, was let's try to lift a nation, let's try to win a few games out here and it's not all doom and gloom.

"Four years ago we had two guys on central contracts and the rest of us were amateurs. Now we have 13. That makes a massive difference and we can only do that through sponsorship and great support and that sort of thing. The big thing is that it's great for Irish cricket that we can get out there and perform on the world stage and put ourselves out there."

As long as the ICC lets them keep mixing it with the big boys.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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