Holdingwilley The second best way to enjoy cricket

Ireland will progress!

( 2265 views )

Ireland burst onto the world cricket stage in 2007 when they defeated Pakistan on that fateful St. Patricks Day. Ever since then, the Irish have shouldered the heavy burden of being the best associate nation, the best of the rest, so to speak.

 

Ireland’s reign as the leading associated has been far from consistent yet they have shown, on occasion, that they can cut it with the big boys more often than not. In the last T20 WC, Ireland again qualified for the latter stages of a big tournament, disposing of Bangladesh in the process.

Many of the Irish squad are no strangers to the Caribbean with eight of them having taken part in the 2007 World Cup. Trent Johnston was captain that time around and his experience will no doubt be invaluable as Ireland go in search of yet another test scalp. However, the all-rounder is no spring chicken has lost a yard or two of pace over the last number of seasons. He has undoubted accuracy with the new ball, but whether that alone is enough to trouble the likes of Gayle and Pietersen remains to be seen. His big hitting ability will never be called into question and his batting alone could gain him a starting berth.

The current captain, William Porterfield, had a top score of 85 against Bangladesh in the 2007 World Cup. Initially, Porterfield was seen as a one dimensional player with a modest strike rate; however, since then he has gone on to find his game and can be destructive at the top of the innings. He is particularly devastating on anything short, and scores heavily over mid-wicket. He is a live wire at backward point and is on par with the best fielders in the world.

The O’Brien brothers, Niall and Kevin, were also there in 2007 and will need to fire this time around with the bat if Ireland are to cause an upset. Niall was the hero against Pakistan, scoring 66. He has secured a regular starting spot behind the stumps with Northants and his experience will be invaluable.

Andre Botha has been a star performer for the Irish over the years but the all-rounder is showing signs of slowing down. This tournament could well be his swan song as a host of young Irish talent is knocking at the door. Like Johnston, he has lost a fair amount of pace while his batting has been inconsistent over the last season. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is over looked for a starting place against the West Indies on Friday.

Andrew White is a bit of a mystery cricketer; he is neither a frontline bowler nor the best batsman but remains a solid performer for the Irish for many years. He will never set the world alight but his willingness to innovate at the crease makes him ideally suited for the shorter format.

Boyd Rankin and John Mooney make up the remainder of the 2007 ‘8’.This could well be one of the last times that we see ‘Big Boyd’ in a green jersey as he appears to have caught the eye of the English selectors. The Warwickshire pace-man has been plagued by injury throughout his short career but has been devastating with the new ball when he has turned out. His death bowling is equally impressive and the Irish management will be hoping he can stay fit for the tournament. John Mooney is a useful cricketer, but nothing more. He has worked hard on his batting game and has made useful contributions and will bat in the lower middle order. His bowling services are unlikely to be called upon, barring any injuries.

Of the rest of the squad, there are high hopes among the Irish supporters for the youngsters, George Dockrell and Paul Stirling.

Dockrell was a surprise inclusion for the T20 Qualifiers in the UAE earlier this year and has gone on to make the spinner's berth his own. Since his debut, he has gone on to take some coveted scalps and could cause a few upsets in the Windies and English camps.

Paul Stirling has the potential to be the best cricketer to come out of Ireland in many years. He is a clean striker of the ball and clears the boundaries with ease. Despite his young age, he is fearless against the new ball and could well be a match winner for the Irish.

Ireland open their account when they clash with the West Indies on April 30th. Today.

Verdict: Although this may be (very) wishful thinking...I expect Ireland to beat England and push the Windies all the way.


David Gash is an Irish writer who writes at
www.munstercricket.com
 



Rate this article:

About the author

Articles:
1856
Reads:
5615788
Avg. Reads:
3026
FB Likes:
3977
Tweets:
0

...

View Full Profile