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Ireland National Cricket Team

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      10.03.2011 15:56
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      Ireland just get better and better

      Irelands stunning win over England is the final nudge to the ICC (International Cricket Council) that they are ready for a test match, of which they have applied for with full membership to the ICC. They are up there with Bangladesh and Zimbabwe and should be given the chance to see if they can play five day matches.
      I have to admit I wanted Ireland to beat an England side stuffed with South African mercenaries, if just for the handful of fans and family and friends who had flown out to India, and smirked when they did. England don't give a toss about 50 over and don't deserve luck, even though their 327-8 was their highest score in the World Cup since the competition was upped to 60 overs back in the mid 1980s. Whereas Irelands only other victory over a test playing nation in the World Cup was Pakistan and so clearly very questionable, this was very different, the World Twenty20 and Ashes champions humiliated, Kevin O'Brien (sporting a big fat gypsy wedding pink haircut) hitting the fastest ever World Cup hundred and Irelands 328-8 the highest ever run chase in the competition, Ireland's previous run chase best being 276.

      Those who don't support Irelands claim to move into the big league will point to the contradictory fact that this was Kevin's first one-day score over 50 runs in the World Cup and he became Irelands highest run scorer with it, hardly convincing that this freak innings changes things. But what ever their standard his 118 ball ton was amazing stuff, including 13 x 4s and 6x6s, his first 50 coming off 30 balls but his second fifty off just 20 balls - and there where 17 dot balls in those 50 balls! England's appalling bowling display would concede their 1000th run in their three World Cup matches to that point. In the same game Jonathan Trott's 92 took him level with the great Viv Richards and partner Kevin Pietersen as the fastest players to their first 1000 runs in one-day-internationals, all doing it in just 21 matches.

      --Fastest World Cup Centuries--

      50 balls - K O'Brien v Eng 2011
      66 balls - M Hayden v SA, 2007
      67 balls - J Davison v WI, 2003
      72 balls - Kapil Dev v Zim, 1983
      72 balls - A Gilchrist v SL, 2007

      Irelands biggest problem over progression is not many are playing full-time cricket, Kevin O'Brien barely registering in the county championship with a half-season for Nott's in 2009, batting for just ten innings and his top score just 46, only three scores in double figures. His brother Nial plays for my team Northamptonshire and an excellent pinch-hitter. We have had a few chats on the boundary and he is determined to play a test match for Ireland one-day. The way England are getting through wicketkeepers it could be for England! Nial is a rather fiery character and throttled our team coach David Capel in the dressing room last season over arriving late for a Twenty20 game from a trip with the Ireland team, his facebook page showing exactly why he was late, an incident kept out of the press and should have resulted in his sacking.

      Captain Ian Porterfield earned a deal with Gloucestershire after his measured 85 in the 2007 World Cup to beat Bangladeshi and has done ok in first-class cricket as a solid opener, now at Warwickshire, there with team mate Boyd Rankin, also solid and useful opening bowler for both Ireland and The Bears. Gary Wilson, reserve keep, has re-signed with Surrey. Their key man is Ed Joyce, the Middlesex and Sussex star, he who moved from the Irish national team to the England team and then back again. Joyce is a test class bat and elegant too, able to score fast or slow. But the talented Jessie Ryder would move the other way and now plays for New Zealand. Although the rest of the team has little county experience and made up of southern hemisphere ringers they are competitive and the argument of using ringers can be levelled firmly against England, their captain, wicket-keeper and star bat all born in South Africa. The whole Canadian side in this World up seems to have been born in India. This is repeated in the international rugby scene.



      Ireland joined the ICC in 1993, held back by the political situation back home, working up to their first World Cup in 2007. In 2009 they introduced incremental central contracts and 6 players are on full-time deals to pay for air fares and training etc. In the second tear they have won 29 out of 60 ODI's, most of those victories in the last ten years, an 11-6 record last year. They finally won the ICC Trophy, the FA Cup for non league sides, in 2009 but have won the Intercontinental Cup three times also, the first-class version of the ICC Trophy. Afghanistan, another rising force, are the current champions, the only good thing to come out of the war. Ireland also play hard cricket in English county cricket one-day competitions, averaging one win per season they have entered, notably beating a strong Surrey side in 2004 and bowling Worcestershire out for just 54 on a typical New road 'seamer' in 2009, their lowest one-day score ever!

      After England's dramatic win over South Africa and Ireland's defeat to India it's unclear if Ireland can now qualify, games against the West Indies and South Africa likely to be defeats, Holland their last game. England should have enough to beat both the West Indies and Bangladesh, with or without Pietersen and Broad, KP always keen to have an operation during the World Cup to be ready for the IPL, for me reason enough to drop him for the summer.

      = = = Trophies = = =

      -World Cup-

      1975-1992: Ineligible (not an ICC member)

      1996-2003: Did not qualify

      2007: 8th (Super Eight Stage)

      2011: In progress

      -Intercontinental Cup-

      2004: First round
      2005: Won
      2006-07: Won
      2007-08: Won
      2009-10: 4th

      -ICC 6 Nations Challenge/World Cricket League-

      2000: 3rd place
      2002: Did not participate
      2004: Did not participate
      2007: 5th place (Division One)
      2010: Won (Division One)

      -ICC Trophy/ICC World Cup Qualifier-

      1979-1990 inclusive: Ineligible (not an ICC member)
      1994: Second round
      1997: 4th place
      2001: 7th place
      2005: 2nd place
      2009: Won

      -ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier-

      2009: Won
      2010: 2nd place
      -ICC World Twenty20-

      2007: Did not qualify
      2009: Super Eight stage
      2010: Group Stages

      -European Championship-

      1996: Won
      1998: 4th place (Division One)
      2000: 4th place (Division One)
      2002: 3rd place (Division One)
      2004: 2nd place (Division One)
      2006: Won (Division One)
      2008: Won (Division One)
      2010: 2nd place (Division One) as Ireland A

      -Triple Crown-

      (Ireland, Wales and Scotland)

      1993: 2nd place
      1994: 3rd place
      1995: 3rd place
      1996: Won
      1997: 3rd place
      1998: 3rd place
      1999: 4th place
      2000: 2nd place
      2001: 4th place
      = = = = = = = =

      -

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