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World Cup 2011

Ireland to let their cricket do the talking

Sidharth Monga in Dhaka

February 21, 2011

Comments: 24 | Text size: A | A

Ireland's Niall O'Brien hones his skills during a training session, Dhaka, February 21, 2011
Niall O'Brien wants Ireland's cricketing performances to make a case for inclusion in future World Cups © Associated Press

With opinion divided world over on the Associates' participation in future World Cups, with opinions ranging from that of Ricky Ponting's to Graeme Swann's, the one voice that should matter the most, that of Ireland, is typical of how the team plays its cricket. Four years ago, they not only won two big matches and tied one, they also won the hearts of the cricket followers all over the world. Despite continuing the good work, they are still waiting for the elusive Test status perhaps after the Bangladesh misadventure, the ICC is cautious inviting teams into the Test family. The top Associate nation, though, doesn't want to contribute verbally to the current debate; they want to give the ICC reasons to include them through their performances on the field.

Niall O'Brien, Ireland's wicketkeeper-batsman, knows the uninspiring show by Canada and Kenya on Sunday provides the ICC, and more importantly its commercial partners, reasons to keep the number of non-Test-playing nations in the tournament down. "It's obviously two disappointing results from Canada and Kenya," he said. "I am disappointed with how they played, but from my point of view, we pride ourselves in being the top of the so-called Associates and the so-called minnows. So from my point of view, we have got a good enough team to go a long way in this tournament. Yes it is disappointing the way they played, but they have five games to rectify that. Hopefully they put in strong performances in the next three or four weeks."

O'Brien didn't harp too much on the decision to prune the next World Cup down to 10 teams. "Yes, it is a shame, because the game has got to grow," he said. "[However], it's up to the ICC to decide who is going to be a part of the next World Cup. Hopefully we will be a part of that. In the next six weeks, if we can put in strong performances, and win matches, against teams we so-called 'shouldn't beat', as we have done in the past, we only strengthen our case. From our point of view, we are not thinking too much about it. It's for ICC to think, it's out of our hands."

Bangladesh, being a Test nation, are one team they so-called 'shouldn't beat', but they have done so at the world events of both the formats they are qualified to play in - and at 74 runs and six wickets, the margins are quite comprehensive too. This game, crucial as it is for both teams' ambitions to progress to the next round, will be a different kettle. The conditions here will be the most foreign to Ireland, despite all their training against spin in their one-month camp in Pune last year. When they toured here last, Ireland failed to win a game in the three-ODI series.

"That was a long time ago, and that schedule, that tour, was a bit hard on us," O'Brien said. "We only turned up on a Monday, and played 36 hours later in some pretty difficult conditions. That's a long time ago, that's past, and we have beaten Bangladesh three of the last four times we have played them. Confidence is high, and we know we have got a good enough team to win here Friday night.

"Bangladesh spinners, the likes of [Abdur] Razzak and skipper [Shakib Al Hasan], we have to play them with the respect they deserve, but at the same time we have to be proactive and quite aggressive."

Ireland know a good performance in subcontinent conditions will be a natural progression from four years ago. As long as they can do that, O'Brien feels, the rest will fall in place. "We have got the next four to five weeks to concentrate on our cricket, and 2015 in a long way away. We have got a World Cup here, we have got the T20 world cup in Sri Lanka in not too distant future. We have got plenty of cricket to look forward to. We played Australia in August in Dublin, and should have beaten them. We have got England in August this year, so hopefully we go out there and put in good performances, and let the rest look after themselves."

So 2011 it is, and O'Brien and his side are looking forward to playing in front of full houses, as opposed to in front of four people and their dog back home. On the way if they spoil a few parties, that may or may not include Bangladesh's, then so be it.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Dummy4 on (February 23, 2011, 5:28 GMT)

Perhaps the route of a golf pro-am format should be followed with the associates playing a "tournament within a tournament" at the world cup.Thus there should be a final between the top 2 associates before the world cup final.This will provide additional incentive and profile.

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 22, 2011, 21:20 GMT)

@James Mark, the Sri Lanka vs Canada game took 7 hours to complete. I'd say that was 'all day' (or night depending on where you were watching), wouldn't you? Contrast this with a football or rugby mismatch lasting less than 2 hours.

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 22, 2011, 9:14 GMT)

South Africa already had test status, you just have to look back to the mid 60's to find any real evidence of it. Basically they just came back into the fold once Apartheid was ended in the country. Like Alex, I do wonder if CI are being quiet for a good reason, I guess we will have to wait until the tournament is over to find out. I suspect what we get (if anything) may be performance related, but I'm sure the guys wont let us down on that front.

Posted by Max on (February 22, 2011, 8:33 GMT)

What about this? As per suggestion by SunnyGIsGawd have an all play all tournament between nos. 9 to 16 on ICC one days rankings on a particular designated date & select 4 of those to the World Cup along with the best 8 ranked one day teams on that particular designated date.

Then have 3 groups of 4 each playing each other & a league of 6 teams (best 2 of each group) playing each other plus a final of 3 or 5 matches between those teams who come 1st & 2nd in this league. That constitutes 36 to 38 matches in all, which is very much shorter that the World Cup in 2007, gives 4 of the weaker teams to play & gives more exposure to the stronger teams to play each other in order to win the Cup. Over to you ICC!

Posted by Rakesh on (February 22, 2011, 7:30 GMT)

If you take opinion of sports loving real cricket fans than no doubt they will vote overwhemingly for atleast 2 Associates in world cup. This criticism of minnows being a mismartched is exposed basically due to wrong scheduling. First of all the cricket wc must be finished at the most within three weeks (21 days) It is not that just matches must be interesting and meaningful but each day must be enriching. Four games per day. I know around boxing days even 3 Test matches go simultaneously. So is the case with upto 3 or 4 onedayers in diff countries. Why and Why such ridiculously one match per day. Minnows can be no problem if 4 matches are played in a day as they would be well covered by more intense matches. Classic example is 1983 wc in England there used to be 4 matches in a single day. So each day will throw some interesting probabilities and WC will be able to keep its tempo all around till the climax(Final). I fully support atleast 2 Associates for cup to be called WC

Posted by Mihir on (February 22, 2011, 4:40 GMT)

Ireland has good under 19 team as well .Look for Stirling Dcokrell. They are good young talent coming up. If provided Test Status they can improve to level what Bangladesh is in 10years within two years. Still Matches against WestIndies,Bangladesh,New Zealand,Zimbabwe are 80% mismatches only. 16 team world cup was good, With Minnows 3matches and then if win then In or out.Hardly one Mismatch with Minnows .Not like this worldcup Minnows playing 6Mathces.So where are more mismatches 2007 or 2011. So no team will take any game lightly in 16team format.

INDIA PAKISTAN played badly not just one game but entire tournament. India stupidly blames Bangladesh for their knockout then INDIA had game against Sri Lanka they should have proved there. But no infact these two nations never deserved place in Super8s Just don't blame Minnows cause ICC want superpowers in 2nd Round. and want advertisement revenue to pour in

Posted by Warrick on (February 22, 2011, 4:09 GMT)

After Irelands performance in the Caribean, it's hard to imagine anyone denying them or other associate nations at chance to compete at a world cup. Imagine them ringing their bosses for another four weeks off because they progressed through to the finals? It captured the hearts & minds of people everywhere & raised the profile of cricket in Ireland dramatically. Upon their return they attracted big sponsorship deals, met their president & were a regular feature on the news. It gained a huge number of new supporters & followers.The majority of the team is now pro & half play in county teams. Isn't that what the ICC is hoping to achieve with a development program? That 8 weeks in the Caribean did more to attract new fans & interest than 100 T20 games would. @Meety, I agree with your format. The 'qualifying' tournament should be held in the same conditions of the next WC & the best two progress. At least then the two associates will be battle hardened & well prepared. Hope Ireland win!

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 22, 2011, 4:06 GMT)

ICC has not improved in its strategy . How many countries got test status since wc 1975 , three sa, srilanka and bd . Is it enough ? no !! associates are not getting enough practice with test playing , ICC can organize such fixtures , enough for loss of money , but for the glory of the game . If they do fail to act quickly , I sense a huge change in the air .

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 22, 2011, 4:06 GMT)


The comparison with football and rugby World Cups ignores the fact that the mismatches are over quickly. In 50 over cricket, the agony can take all day to complete

How can it take all day ?

Posted by Gordon on (February 22, 2011, 2:21 GMT)

At the monent, Ireland would qualify for the 10-team World Cup anyway. That is, providing they finish ahead of either Bangladesh or Zimbabwe at this World Cup if the WC seedings continue to be the ranking tool for WC places.

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