ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

World Cup 2011

Ireland prove they belong on the world stage

Ireland were the best of the Associates by far and their performances more than justified their presence in the tournament

Andrew McGlashan

March 22, 2011

Comments: 34 | Text size: A | A

Ireland's World Cup win over England made the front page of the <i>Irish Independent</i>, England v Ireland, Group B, World Cup, Bangalore, March 2, 2011
Ireland's upset of England was front page news © Irish Independent
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Teams: Ireland

World Cup performance

In many ways, Ireland had the most to lose of all the Associate teams at this World Cup. After performing they way they did in 2007, there was the pressure of expectation and with the next tournament set to be reduced to 10 teams, and no clear way for the Associates to qualify yet determined, they also knew it may prove to be their last chance. Once again, though, they played a vital part in bringing the tournament to life and, despite not reaching the quarter-finals, did more than enough to show they deserve to be in the mix for future versions.

It's a sign of their development that not progressing was such a disappointment. Their defeat against Bangladesh always looked a costly slip and so it proved after they managed the major upset by beating England. The anger shown at Gary Wilson's controversial lbw against West Indies stemmed from the belief they could still win that match. Even against a powerful South Africa unit they were competing strongly, until JP Duminy took the game away.

Unlike fellow Associates, they don't rely on one or two key names to carry the rest of the line-up; there is talent throughout the team. They found new heroes in Kevin O'Brien and John Mooney against England, not to mention the unheralded Alex Cusack, and in the run chase against Netherlands, Paul Stirling showed his potential.

William Porterfield is a mature captain, who speaks intelligently about the game, and led the side impressively. There should be plenty to feel positive about regarding the future, but these remain uncertain times for Associate nations. Ireland have done enough to deserve better.

High

The run-chase against England in Bangalore wrote another chapter in Irish sporting history and Kevin O'Brien opened the door to potential personal riches. O'Brien couldn't quite live up to his 63-ball 113 for the rest of the tournament, but that one innings began the talk of IPL and county deals. From Ireland's view there was no better side to turn over in such circumstances than their close neighbours. Both Ireland and O'Brien can't live on that performance forever, but it will never be forgotten by anyone watching.

Low

The failed run-chase against Bangladesh, in Dhaka, left Ireland with a mountain to climb. Most gallingly they should have reached the target - their subsequent batting in the tournament proved that - but their conviction went missing for a three crucial hours.

Strengths

They have the deepest batting in Associate cricket, which was clearly demonstrated by their magical chase against England. Ireland also had as many centuries batting second - two - as the rest of the teams combined. Before the tournament it was suggested Porterfield, Ed Joyce and Niall O'Brien would need to do most of the scoring, but Kevin O'Brien showed he has a touch of Andrew Flintoff about him. Due to the county exposure of most of the top order, Ireland's batsmen have a toughness and technique not displayed regularly by Associates. In George Dockrell, they have an outstanding prospect, while their fielding put some Test nations to shame.

Weaknesses

Boyd Rankin had a disappointing tournament and it left Ireland short on pace bowling. At one time, Rankin was being suggested as another who might gain England's interest, but he went backwards at this event, albeit on some flat pitches. With Trent Johnston's knees on the verge of giving way, his career won't last much longer, so Rankin is a vital part of Ireland's future if they want to consistently compete against top teams.

Prospects

All eyes will be on the decision regarding qualification for the 2015 tournament. If Ireland aren't given a chance to be involved, it will be a travesty but that will require some open-mindedness from the Full Members. On the field they can't really have done much more to make their case; now it's down to the boardrooms and political manoeuvring of the ICC.

Four years, though, is a long wait regardless of what decisions are made. In the shorter-term, Ireland need more exposure to the top sides but this will be difficult in a cramped calendar, although playing the mini tri-series with Sri Lanka and Scotland during July is a start. It would be nice to see England take a lead - beyond their one-off ODI in August - but their current fixture-list is at breaking point. Ireland, too, have a host of Associate-level agreements to keep and need to maintain their standards at that level as well as look for greater challenges.

However, the game has been put on a sound footing by strong management. Central contracts, helped the financial backing of loyal sponsors, have given players who aren't county professionals some security and allowed them to focus on their game. Still, the challenge is keeping hold of the very best of Ireland's talent. Dockrell could be the next to leave - his performances with Somerset once he recovers from a dislocated shoulder will be monitored closely - but at least Associate players can continue to play for the country of birth until qualifying for a Test nation.

The ultimate ambition of Test cricket remains a long way off and is unlikely to ever come to fruition. Ireland has no first-class structure and it's difficult to see how one could be put in place. But they are more than worthy of their place on the international stage.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN EMEA Ltd.

Comments: 34 
Posted by Meety on (March 24, 2011, 3:39 GMT)

I think the biggest handbrake for Ireland to go forward is the economy isn't doing too well & it will be hard to pull major sponsorship. Given Ireland can find sponsorship, there's nothing stopping them hosting events coinciding with the start or the end of an International teams tour of England. Ireland wouldn't have to wave too much money in front of Afghanistan or NZ noses to get them to come over & play them, (I'd also include Pakistan but if they win the W/Cup - they may not be too worried about cash!). Ireland could host some Pakistan Test matches. I think Pakistan would be better suited in Ireland then UAE, where pitches are duller than what I think the Emerald Isles are. Couple years of hosting events - getting bums on seats & performing well when playing against the big boys - should lead to an indisputable case for Full Membership. I would say that Ireland are better placed now then where Bangladesh was in 1999. ICC/BCCI, give them a go!!!!

Posted by paulmac on (March 24, 2011, 1:35 GMT)

For Ireland to take the next step they and Scotland must enter the county championship.As to differentiate themselves from the national side I would call them Hibernia and Caledonia.Also at test level England should become the Brittish Isles and pay respects to players like Eion Morgan and Simon Jones. At ODIs and t20 England,Ireland,Scotland AND Wales should compete seperately as happens in rugby.

Posted by   on (March 24, 2011, 0:33 GMT)

give Ireland test status and make 11 teams for 2015 WC. 10 extra matches won't hurt. have 2 league matches per day. make the tournament shorter. please don't exclude Ireland.

Posted by   on (March 23, 2011, 8:03 GMT)

iRELAND DEFEAT AGAINST BANLADESH IN LEAGUE STAGE HAS BEEN SOME WHAT A DECIISIVE FACTOR FRO THEIR EXODUS IN QF IF THEY MANAGE TO HELD THEIR NERVE IN THAT THRILLING CHASE AGS BD THEY COULD HAD AN REAL OUTSIDE CHANCE TO QUALIFIED FOR THE QF.HOWEVER IRELAND DESERVE TO AWARDED TEST MARCH STATUS BUT BEFORE THAT THEY MUST COMPETE WITH REGULARS REGULARLY

Posted by OutStumped on (March 23, 2011, 7:30 GMT)

I've been watching cricket for over 15 years now, and I've always thought the well established sides are bound to do good come what may. It was really heartening to see the way Ireland went about in this World Cup. I'm sure a number of cricket fans like me were impressed with Ireland, and would want the Irish Cricket team to be fast-tracked to the top league, at least as far as ODIs are concerned. We definitely don't want the likes of George Dockrell, Paul Stirling, Kevin O' Brien etc ending their careers having played 40 ODIs. The onus is now on Cricket Ireland and the England Cricket Board to come together and establish a decent domestic structure in Ireland. The ICC as the governing body should help sketch out a plan that will benefit Ireland in the coming years, and make it a force to reckon with in the next 10 years or so. To the Irish Cricket Team, the way you've performed has really been fresh and inspiring to watch, and I hope to see you in top 6 teams of the world!

Posted by sandymen on (March 23, 2011, 6:54 GMT)

ICC needs to step up and provide the necessary support to ensure that Ireland Cricket progress further. Globalising the game was supposed to be one of the priorities of ICC and promoting Ireland to the next level would be a good advertisement for this program. Proof that the money has been well spent. ECB and BCCI could surely use their clout in speding up the process.............even if it causes an imbalance to the current voting patterns. Keep politics aside for once and do the right thing. Ireland are more ready then Bangladsh were when they got test status and on current form could beat these 2 sides if not WI and NZ as well.

Posted by   on (March 23, 2011, 5:44 GMT)

Ireland certainly discharged themselves with flying colours in the current world cup of cricket. They certainly played much better than some full member nations such as Zimbabwe which was an absolute flop, Bangladesh which was twice bundled out for scores of 75 or less inspite of playing all matches at home; and even the kiwis who were not at all impressive. I can't imagine how Zimbabwe can be expected to play 5 day test cricket when they hardly ever could play 50 overs. There is certainly something lop sided even stinking in working of the ICC. If you look at Ireland's case they fielded superbly, Potterfield, without a shadow of doubt, was the captain of the tournament, they twice chased sucessfully targets in excess of 300 runs; and would probably have done it a third time had not a dubious umpiring decision gone against them. They have the credit of the fastest hundred ever in the world cup and that too not against a minnow but a full member.What more can we ask of Ireland.

Posted by satanswish on (March 23, 2011, 3:42 GMT)

Ireland is definitely stronger than Bangladesh & other minnows. I would rate them higher than bangla pussycats & others.

Posted by OttawaRocks on (March 23, 2011, 2:30 GMT)

From a Canadian, give Ireland full membership. I'm happy to keep Zimb and Bang, but don't let that be the reason for excluding Ireland. Regardless of what you do with Zim and Bang, let Ireland in. Then make a plan to allow Netherlands, Canada and Kenya in as well - maybe allow them to make an allstar team or do something else. To their credit, Canada has decided to create their own IPL like league that would invite foreign players in. They also partake in Caribbean tourneys. I think Canada will make the big step in the future, especially now that they have Canadian born and/or Canadian raised players coming through the team ranks. Why is this important? Because without Canadian raised players, the Canadian government will refuse to adequately support them.

Posted by samudra715 on (March 22, 2011, 23:22 GMT)

Yes definitelt Ireland showed good cricket in the last two world cups. Few questions... 1. Is ireland consistent in their performance? they lost to Afghanistan(started play serious cricket only recently), Canada, Holland, Kenya, Zimbabwe in the last one year. They need to make sure that it does not happen to them anymore before they replace Bangladesh. Only 10 years ago Kenya was a strong opponent for Bangladesh!! Bangladesh lost lot of matches to Canada, Netherland, Kenya, Zimbabwe; but those days gone! 2. Does Ireland have a good cricket infrastructure to make sure that they can produce fairly good cricketers all the time? Kenya produced some good cricketers like Tikolo, but that does not help the whole country cricket if there is no regular supply. If Ireland can meet these above then definitely they should replace Bangladesh!

Bangladesh Vs Ireland head to head (2007-11), BD won 5, Ireland won 2. May be we need to see a series between BD and Ireland now!

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Andrew McGlashanClose
Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.

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