ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
World Cup 2011
Ireland seek to repeat giant-killing act
Firdose Moonda in Kolkata
March 14, 2011
Reputations get built over time, with each year, each achievement, each failure and each memory adding to the album that will eventually get labelled as "so-and-so's record." The more important a person gets, the more difficult it becomes to maintain, like a vintage vehicle which always needs some work done on it to keep it going.
Ireland have exactly that sort of reputation. After their heroics at the 2007 World Cup, there was keen interest in whether they could repeat it at this tournament. After they stunned England, there's now keen interest in whether they can upset another big team and if they manage that, there'll be interest in how far they can go.
It creates a different pressure to the kind that the likes of India, South Africa and Australia face, it's a pressure of hope rather than a pressure of expectation, but it too can take its toll. William Porterfield, though evergreen as a leprechaun, may be starting to feel some of it. "South Africa were obviously one of the pre-tournament favourites and they have just beaten India in a good game of cricket as well," he said at the pre-match press conference in Kolkata. "We don't have anything to lose."
Besides a little bit of reputation and an outside chance making the quarterfinals, Porterfield is right. South Africa, on an upward trajectory after their win over India, are looking to seal the deal to the last eight and will probably aim to be merciless in doing so. They're unlikely to experiment, given the magnitude of the game and how wary they are of the opposition and the possibility of slipping up. Ireland can therefore do nothing but go in with that attitude. "We've played a couple of big teams now and teams that have been in form," Porterfield said. "South Africa are no different. They'll be in pretty high spirits and pretty confident. They're a top-class side. It's just another challenge for us."
Keeping up appearances may be on Ireland's mind, but they're also grounded enough to know that there is a cricket match to concentrate on. Porterfield said that they've done their homework on the pitch and expect it to offer more for the seamers than some of the other surfaces they have encountered thus far. That could mean an immediate recall for Trent Johnston, who was out with a bruised knee, which he sustained while playing against India. "If Trent's fit, he plays," Porterfield said. "He's one of your first picks."
More than the bowling, Ireland have batting concerns with the 7 for 54 collapse against West Indies nullifying the 7 for 57 they managed with the ball. Kevin O'Brien, in particular, gets mentioned as a concern - largely because of the reputation he created for himself with the century that won the match against England. Since then, he has done little else and expectation is growing for him to produce again. "He can come off on any given day," Porterfield said. "He's had a couple of low scores but he hasn't faced many balls. He hasn't been struggling in the nets and he hasn't been struggling for form."
O'Brien is probably the one member of the squad who truly understands how quickly a reputation is built and how soon it needs to be fed. Although it hasn't reached starvation point yet, he'll know that one more big performance is probably required in this tournament for them to have fully serviced the car. Someone asked Porterfield if this was Ireland's last chance to make an impact and he answered using a phrase his opposite number Graeme Smith has repeated. "If we go out and do that and leave everything on the pitch, I'm happy."