'It does take a bit away from our achievement' March 29, 2007

McCallan hits back at mercenaries jibes

Cricinfo staff

Kyle McCallan has hit back at critics who have implied that Ireland's success in the World Cup has been based on overseas players.

The side is captained by Australian-born Trent Johnston, while another Australian, Jeremy Bray, starred in the tie with Zimbabwe with a hundred, and a third of the frontline players, Andre Botha, is from South Africa.

"It does take a bit away from our achievement," McCallan told Reuters. "People are entitled to their opinions but in a small way it motivates us even more. Particularly the guys that are born and bred in Ireland, they want to show that they can compete at this level and I feel they have done and will continue to do so."

He did admit that the trio are essential to the balance of the squad, but denied they were little more than mercenaries. "They have contributed to Irish cricket over a prolonged period. Hopefully their kids, in time, will contribute to Irish cricket," he said. "I'm not going to be naive, we miss Trent Johnston when Trent doesn't play for us but I would imagine England would miss Kevin Pietersen if he didn't play for them. There's no difference there whatsoever.

"Trent is married to an Irish girl with two Irish kids and Jeremy Bray has lived in Ireland for as long as I can remember."

Ireland are not alone is exploiting the existing ICC regulations. Scotland have two Australian-born players in their squad and one South African. Canada, however, are by far the most reliant on imported talent, with no fewer than 12 of their 15-man squad born overseas.