With yesterday’s announcement from Cricket Ireland that Irish cricketer Trent Johnston will be undergoing surgery on his knee at the end of the current season, I feel the need to look at the future of Irish international cricket. With players retiring, getting injured, choosing rugby over cricket, and possibly moving to England, Irish cricket may be facing a shortfall of international players over the coming years.
Last weeks ODI against England was played without Trent Johnston as his knee was causing him problems in the build up to the match. His absence meant that Ireland had to rely more on Boyd Rankin, John Mooney & Nigel Jones. However Jones & Mooney both bowl at a slower pace than Johnston. On a pitch that was mainly suited to fast bowlers Johnston’s absence was notably missed. Whilst Jones was Ireland’s most economical bowler, Ireland also needed to take more wickets and this is where Johnston was missed. In his 55 matches for Ireland Trent has taken 55 wickets. In comparison Jones has taken 10 wickets from 14 matches, and Mooney has taken 29 wickets from 39 matches. These figures here clearly show that Johnston is a proven wicket taker for Ireland. Unfortunately though, Trent is now 37 years old, almost twice the age of his Irish team-mate George Dockrell. He is set to retire after the Twenty 20 world cup next year, or if Ireland fail to qualify, he will retire after the qualifying tournament. No matter how good a talent he is, his participation in Irish cricket is slowly coming to an end, and it will be one of the biggest losses to Irish cricket.
Another threat to the future of Irish cricket is the fact that England and the ECB are approaching Irish players and inviting them to play for England. In the past few years most notably Ed Joyce and Eoin Morgan have made the move to play for England in hopes of playing cricket at the highest level. Some will make it, as Eoin Morgan has done. However others will not, and may end up playing for Ireland again as seen in the case of Ed Joyce. In recent weeks we have seen Irish paceman Boyd Rankin playing for the England Lions. Whilst playing for the England Lions does not mean that Rankin cannot play for Ireland any more, unless he gets a call up to the England first XI, it does show that the ECB are taking a serious interest in the Derryman. Rankin has since come out confirming his England ambition by saying; “The ultimate goal is to play Test cricket and I don’t know if the one-day team is the route to Test team. It won’t happen for a while anyway but it’s just a matter of trying to get my foot into the Lions (door) and do well with them and get on the winter programme.” As mentioned earlier Ireland will soon be losing the talent of Trent Johnston. If we lose Rankin as well Ireland will be left with a serious shortfall of fast bowlers.
Another fear that I have when I see Boyd Rankin potentially moving to England is that he may not be the only Irish cricketer to cross the channel in the coming years. Once one player goes he may just re-open the door to England and other players may follow in his lead. An Irish player that the ECB have their eye on is 19 year old, left arm spinner George Dockrell. With a wealth of international experience behind him at such a young age, and a serious amount of talent, Dockrell is certainly a cricketer to watch for the future. With Graeme Swann already 32 a young spinner like Dockrell will surely appeal to England. In the recent under 19 world cup qualifying tournament Dockrell took charge and captained the Ireland under 19’s to qualify for next years world cup. During this tournament Dockrell not only showed his bowling, and captaining skills, but also showed his batting potential. As a player who is largely known as just a bowler, he certainly surprised everyone with his batting, in particular in the match against Namibia when Dockrell took 3 wickets and finished batting at 82 not out. George already has a county contract with English county Somerset. If he stays living in Somerset for a coupe more years he will soon become eligible for English selection. Losing a player like Dockrell would be a huge blow to Irish cricket and would certainly impact upon the future of the sport.
For a couple different reasons Irish cricket looks as if it may lose several players over the coming years. With players going across to England to try and further their career Ireland will be losing several talents and therefore it will be more difficult for Ireland to win matches and prosper as a cricketing nation. It is also very discouraging for fans of Irish cricket to see their cricketing heroes suddenly up ship and move to England. The future of Irish cricket is certainly in danger unless better rules are implemented to stop players leaving their home country.
In the same week as county Down’s Rory McIlroy loses the Augusta masters, Irish sport takes a further blow with Zimbabwe cancelling Ireland’s tour.
The Ireland cricket team were due to travel to Zimbabwe later this year. The tour was to consist of one four day game, as well as two ODI’s. Zimbabwe’s official reason for cancelling this is because they want to focus more on playing full member nations in preperation for the 2015 world cup. However I believe that this is only a half truth. Whilst they do want, and need more games against full nations, Zimbabwe also want to move up the world rankings. I maintain that they cancelled Ireland’s tour as they now feel they cannot lose any games while trying to move up rankings. A loss to Ireland would not only hinder Zimbabwe’s chances of elevation, but it would also give Ireland those vital points. Ireland are currently in tenth position, just ahead of Zimbabwe.
This decision is not only a blow to cricket Ireland, but it is also slightly ungrateful to Ireland. Cricket Ireland took a controversial decision to travel to Zimbabwe last year, when no other cricketing nation would. Ireland did. Not South Africa, England, India, Australia or any of the other full members who Zimbabwe are now so keen to play against. Several of Ireland’s cricketers, such as Trent Johnston and George Dockrell, have taken to twitter to express their annoyance over the cancellation of the tour.
Well what to say except that the ICC have now crushed the nation of Ireland. By confirming that the next two world cups will have 10 teams, without qualification, they have effectively given associate teams nothing to aim for.
The ten full members of the ICC will now automatically qualify for the 2015 & the 2019 world cups. Under this rule Zimbabwe automatically qualify. Despite being placed 11th in the world, just behind Ireland. Are the ICC really saying that Zimbabwe are a better punt than Ireland? Okay yes, Zimbabwe have a lot of things going for them and they are a good cricketing nation, but they are ranked below Ireland. That is the simple fact of it all. As Cricket Ireland CEO Warren Deutrom said, ‘there is no reason why we cannot move up another place, or two, before the next world cup.’ Personally I feel he is right. Who is to say that we cannot overtake Bangladesh in the world rankings within the next four years? I think we can.
In the world cup just past Ireland had a brilliant tournament. We beat England and The Netherlands, we scored the fastest ever century in cwc history, and we chased down the largest ever run chase in cwc history. All the records broken by Ireland. Not India, not South Africa, not Sri Lanka. Ireland. This is basically the ICC saying to us “thanks for entertaining us and enriching our tournament, now goodbye”. It’s a disgrace really. Where’s our encouragement? Where is the plan to help Irish cricket grow? Had we been given the money that has been thrown at Bangladesh or Zimbabwe who knows where Irish cricket would be now. We have now been given nothing to plan for, or work towards. The ICC have taken away our biggest tournament.
My biggest fear now is that our young players are now going to leave for England, in the search of not only test cricket, but also the 50 over world cup. George Dockrell, my favourite player, has been a target for England since his debut against the West Indies in April ’10. This revelation could be what spurs him into talks with Eoin Morgan and the ECB. I can only pray that this doesn’t happen. But it’s not only Dockrell that could leave, Craig Young already plays for Sussex and so has been noticed by the English system. Paul Stirling had a hit and miss world cup, but overall is a very good cricketer and currently has a contract with Middlesex.
Cricket Ireland and the rest of the associate nations are currently meeting to decide what action they can take to fight this decision. However it seems that not a lot can be done. The 95 associate nations, even all grouped together, do not hold a lot of power. This certainly leaves them at a major disadvantage. But one thing for sure is that Cricket Ireland are not going to go down without a fight for our right to play in the world cup. Because effectively this decision takes the ‘world’ out of world cup.
Yes! We have done it! We have beaten England! And in a truly inspiring style. There are so many points to note about this win I barely know where to start…
Ireland’s bowling performance was not the key aspect of their win, however they did well to contain England to 327 when they could easily have reached 340 or 350. Trott’s brilliant 92 runs along with Ian Bell’s 81 helped massively to bring England up to this huge total. This first innings cannot be spoken about without a mention of John Mooney’s brilliant 4 wickets. He knew that in a powerplay, whilst you will give away some runs, the end of an innings is also an important time to try and take some wickets. This, is exactly what he did. Trent Johnston also palyed a part and finished with figures of 2-58 after 10 overs. This made him the first ever Irish bowler to take 50 ODI wickets.
And now onto that inspiring innings from larger than life Kevin O’Brien. How to describe his innings? Well the lead up to O’Brien was not ideal. Captain William Porterfield went out first ball. Then our next three batsmen scored 93 runs between them. This included Ed Joyce, in his first game against England since moving back to the green jersey. This game was surely going to be a test for him, however it was still a world cup game that Ireland needed to win, and I, as an Irish fan, had hoped that he would score more than 32 runs. Then, disapointingly, Gary Wilson came in and scored only 3 runs. So Ireland were left on 111-5 after 25 overs. We still needed to score 218 runs, and fast. But then Kevin O’Brien came to the crease. He straight away scored boundaries, and gave the Irish fans something to cheer about. For a while it seemed like O’Brien, and Cusack at the other end, were going to save Ireland from being embarrassed. But suddenly, a glimmer of hope arised. We started to think we could actually win. Us. Ireland. An associate nation. We were chasing the highest ever run chase in world cup cricket history, against England. And we started to think we could do it. Kevin O’Brien scored the fastest ever century in history, off only 50 balls. His name is going down in the record books. A key moment of this amazing 6th wicket partnership, the highest ever 6th wicket partnership in world cup history, was Alex Cusack’s run out. Cusack saw that either he or O’Brien was going to be run out, and instead of letting Ireland lose O’Brien, he sacrificed his own wicket. Cusack finished on 47 runs, just 3 runs off his half century. It would have been his first ever half century, and yet he gave it up for the sake of the game. So out goes Cusack and in comes John Mooney. Of course the wicket came as a slight knock to our confidence, and for a moment we feared if the team might lose their nerve. However Mooney picks up straight were Cusack left off and settled into the game. Ireland were really getting into it, but with every ball, my heart was in my mouth with fear that the batsmen were going to crumble under the pressure. Yet they kept their cool and even when O’Brien did lose his wicket, he left Ireland in a position that we were still capable of winning the game. Trent Johnston came in, and with his first ball got right into the game by scoring a four boundary. Suddenly it was the final over, and Ireland needed 3 runs off 6 balls to win. John Mooney faces the first ball, and with nerves of steel gets the winning runs in one fluid motion. The crowd roars. The Irish team rush onto the pitch. The fans cheer, and some cry. We did it, we finally beat England at their own game.
It was a proud day to be Irish. Suddenly everyone was a cricket fan, and people are talking about cricket. Traditionally an unpopular sport, this emphatic win seems to have lifted the spirits of a country in the depths of depression. However. Ireland have only won one game, not the entire world cup. We must still win two more group games to qualify for the quarter finals. Our next match is against India this coming Sunday morning. We may not be able to win this game, but we can still take confidence going into the game. I can only hope that we will put up a fight, and not lose our momentum.
With Ireland’s opening game looming I am now closing my latest poll, ”Who will be Ireland’s key in the CWC 2011?” I will also be taking a look at how Ireland fared in their warm ups ahead of the world cup.
Ireland’s warm up games received mixed results with a loss against New Zealand and a win against Zimbabwe. The loss against New Zealand was not all bad though and there are several good points to take from the game. Skipper William Porterfield scored a fantastic 72 runs, and helped Ireland to score 279 runs before being all bowled out after 48.2 overs. Ireland made NZ sweat before they took the victory and, as an associate nation, that is something we should be proud of. We are still a nation that can handle the big top ten of test cricket. Our win over Zimbabwe we have shown that we are well up for this world cup and that we are not willing to back down easily. This game proved to be a terrific game for Trent Johnston. His amazing 5 overs, 2 for 9 runs were a massive key in restricting Zim to 244 runs after 50 overs. Andre Botha top scored with a slow 79 runs off 135 balls, but this still proved to help Ireland in chasing those all important runs.
The result of my poll tied George Dockrell and Ed Joyce with 3 votes each. However this result has not matched up with how Ireland are playing. Dockers is yet to take a wicket in the world cup, however he has had very good economy rates, which in limited overs cricket can be very important. Joycey scored 41 runs in the opening warm up against NZ, but he did not bat against Zim. Ireland’s opening games have shown Trent Johnston and William Porterfield to be the stand out players. In my poll Porterfield received only one vote, and Johnston was not included in it (sorry)
Ireland will play their first official CWC 2011 game against Bangladesh on this coming Friday morning. Sky sports will be covering the game, however you will need the red button to view it.
With the world cup only 21 days away and fast approaching my thoughts turn to how Ireland will fare, and who will be their key player to this campaign. So to try and get the general view as to who this player will be I am opening up my first poll of 2011, and it will be asking ”Who will be Ireland’s key in the CWC 2011?”. The options available are left-arm spinner George Dockrell, paceman Boyd Rankin, skipper William Porterfield, wicket-keeper/batsman Niall O’Brien and, fresh from England, Ed Joyce.
Ireland’s opening world cup match will be played against Bangladesh in Mirpur on February 25th. Throughout the campaign Ireland will also be playing England, India, West Indies, South Africa and the Netherlands. Ireland will be hoping to achieve a win over The Netherlands and possibly cause another upset reminiscent of 2007. Just last July Ireland achieved a win over Bangladesh and they will be hoping to do the same next month.
With the addition of Joyce to the team the batting line up is looking alot stronger and more reinforced that ever. The Irish bowling line up has always been it’s stronger aspect and with the Indian pitches suiting our young spinner George Dockrell the bowlers is also looking stronger. Ireland will be looking to prove to the world just how impressive this Ireland team can be. Ireland will also be looking to show the ICC that Ireland are deserving of test status. With the CWC reducing its number of teams from 12 to 15 in 2015 Ireland will be pushing more and more for the elusive 5 day game as it has not yet been decided if those countries outside of the top 10 will be able to qualify.
The game that all eyes will be on will be the Ireland V England match to be held on March 2nd. It will be Joyce’s first game playing for Ireland against England, since his return to his home nation. With Eoin Morgan surely to be playing for England it is certainly shaping up to be the game to watch.
Last week Ireland announced it’s squad to be playing in the world cup and today they left for India. The team is injury free and hopefully it will remain that way. We have many players who can all perform as well as their test playing counterparts and are not to be underestimated. I am asking the readers of my blog to tell me who you believe will be the key to Ireland’s world cup campaign. If you vote ‘other’ please comment on this post and let me know who that other is and why. Happy voting!
Yesterday the ICC made an announcement confirming that they will be reducing Ed Joyce’s time period between two countries, thus allowing him to play for Ireland in the upcoming world cup. However, they declined Irish passport holder, Hamish Marshall, clearance. This means that Marshall will have to wait until April to play for Ireland.
Marshall was announced in Ireland’s original 17 man squad to go on the tour of India, and Marshall did travel to India with the team. Although since he has not received clearance from the ICC he will not be partaking in the world cup. This means that Ireland will have to call up another player to replace Marshall in the squad.
As an Irish cricket fan I have to say it is great to have a player of Joyce’s calibre back playing for us again. I personally feel that the Irish bowling is a strong line up, but we are continuously let down by are batters who, are good, but can be quite inconsistent.
While a player who has been playing consistently for Ireland for the duration of their career may now lose their place to either Joyce or Marshall is not exactly fair, I can not, in no way, blame the Irish selectors for choosing the best players at their disposal. I just really like the fact that Joyce and Marshall, are basically ‘having their cake and eating it too’
But in the end it’s about results and if having Joyce as an opening batsman in the world cup means that Ireland may, once again, qualify for the super eight stage then that is how it goes. I do feel for whoever it is that loses their place, but statistics don’t lie and if they want their place back they will have to fight for it, just as it is in every sport.