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April 20, 2009
Roy Torrens, Ireland's manager, has called his side that won the ICC World Cup Qualifier tournament in South Africa on Sunday as the best to represent the country.
"They are even better than the side that shocked Pakistan and Bangladesh at the last World Cup," said Torrens, a former Ireland player who has been manager since 2004. Ireland lived up to their favourites billing all through the tournament, waltzing through the preliminary league phase with five wins in five and topping the tables in the Super Eights before mauling Canada by nine wickets in the final.
An indication of how seriously Ireland were treating this tournament, and the chance to re-affirm their status as the leading Associate nation, was that players were banned from drinking alcohol and carbonated drinks throughout the event. They were even subjected to daily breathalyser tests to make sure the ban was followed. "Not one player failed a test," Torrens told AFP. "All they drank from the start of the tournament until after the final was still water and it obviously worked wonders."
ICC president David Morgan also congratulated Ireland on their strong show. "Ireland showed in 2007 [World Cup] how it is possible for the top Associate teams to spring surprises at that level," he said, "and I know that having won the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier they will be out to demonstrate that the last time was not a fluke."
He also lauded efforts of the other three teams which qualified for the 2011 World Cup. "The main goal the teams had beforehand was qualification and so it was also a great tournament for Canada, Kenya and the Netherlands."
Afghanistan missed out on making the World Cup but grabbed the headlines with a sixth-place finish that gained them ODI status. "Perhaps the great success story of this event was through the exploits of the Afghanistan players and for them to win ODI status is a remarkable achievement for one of the ICC's newer members," Morgan said. "The ICC will be doing everything possible to make sure the game is brought forward in that part of the world."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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