Category Archives: Cricket Ireland

Stand by me?

For those of us who followed Irish Cricket before 17/03/07, the events of that day were less of a shock than they were to most. Indeed, you could say that a few days earlier, when they only tied with Zimbabwe, that we were a shade disappointed by the result, half expecting a win, against a very ordinary team in truth, who havent got better over the years. But yes, that St Patrick’s Day win against Pakistan was the day the world as a whole woke up to Irish cricket.

Some of us, as I say, though in my case from a distance, had followed Irish cricket for more than a few years by then. Ancestry thing for me, as it was for a few of those players back in 2007. Yes, more than a few of them spoke with Southern hemisphere accents! Gradually over the years things have changed, and it was only this week that Ireland played a team where all 11 players were actually born in Ireland!

The rise of cricket in Afghanistan has been even more recent, though very dramatic all the same. Hopefully, at some point in the future, they may be able to play an international cricket match in their own country, though the security situation means it wont be just yet.

Over the next few weeks, in India, a virtual ‘international tour’ starts for these 2 teams. 3 twenty over games, 5 one day internationals, followed by a 4 day ‘test match’ makes up the tour. Yes, its only an Intercontinental Cup match officially, but given the changing situation within the ICC, next time they meet, it probably will be a test match, as both countries are likely to be upgraded over the next couple of years. Which, if they keep their word, will mean Ireland playing a Test Match at the home of cricket, Lords. Wow!

Its funny to think that just 10 years ago, if someone had said this would happen, even the Irish fans would have laughed at you, but now… I had, in truth, hoped to get across to a game this summer, but though I’m back in work, and the money is coming in again, its still going to be one trip too far, I suspect. But next year, fingers are crossed.

In truth, Ireland and Afghanistan will never rival the Ashes, or India v Pakistan in cricket rivalries, but for two teams that have built themselves up together, I’m sure the games will always remain special.

The video, what these 2 teams have done over the years. Until now, in associate cricket, but in the future, test series? Maybe in a number of years, those games may even be in Kabul? Lets face it, 30 years ago, the idea of international cricket in Belfast would have been looked on nervously, so…?

As Cold As Ice

Yes, its one of those weekends of the year, when I’d rather be somewhere else. Not because of any personal issues, or anything, but simply because something special is happening, many thousands of miles from here. Hey, this weekend, seriously, you could offer me a choice of venues, but in the end, there’s only one I’ve wanted to visit for so long, and have to realistically face, I’m not really likely to get to. Yes, Alaska. Yes, its the start of the Iditarod. Indeed, the ceremonial start in Anchorage is going on as I type this. The race proper, starts tomorrow, a few miles away in Willow, of course.

Alright, fine, I am not designed for prolonged exposure to below freezing temperatures. Not sure I ever was, definitely not now, for sure! But all the same, would I love a look at the start of the most amazing long distance race there is, you bet I would! Oh, and fine, even more, I’d dearly love to be at Nome, for the finish, but that definitely is never going to happen, not in my wildest dreams!

So yes, yet again, I’ll be following it, via the internet, from the warmth of home, thanks to the Iditarod website. Do I mind who wins? Well, fine, yes, I’d love to see Lance Mackey do it again, but being realistic, its not so likely nowadays. So in truth, no, I dont!

Maybe one day, if, and when things are better financially, and I dont have any limitations on my time (due to the fact that practically, health wise, I’d have to take overnight breaks both ways to get there, and back, from here in the UK), I will get to Alaska, but I’m pretty sure it wont be at the beginning of March, even then. I doubt even then, that I will get to Nome (seriously, the fare from Anchorage alone is quite something!), but I might be able to walk in those paw prints, down 4th Avenue in Anchorage. Cant see it, but never say never…

Funnily enough, you’d also see some snow, and ice, from the other place I wouldnt mind being this weekend, even if its across the opposite side of the world.

I’m not a great fan of 20 over cricket, I prefer the 50 over, and multi day versions of the game, but fine, there are times… The 20 over World Cup actually starts on Tuesday morning, in India, which normally wouldnt be a Country on the top of my tourist list. But hey, given Ireland are playing their qualifying group matches in Dharamsala, literally set underneath the Himalayas, maybe I can make an exception? I first saw the ground when a match in that ghastly IPL was played there, and was taken by the setting, and the amazing buildings, and fell in love. Even then, I never imagined that 1 day, Ireland would be playing cricket there. Again, all I will be able to do is follow from home, but at least we get TV coverage of that.

Fine, money no object, and a special flight to get me there, where am I heading? Hmm? No, despite the fact that Dharamsala is a one off experience, and will be warmer than Alaska, still no contest, I’d see the start of the Iditarod tomorrow! Yes, I have no idea why, I have little, or no interest in mushing beyond this, but at 1000 miles or so, that race is just so special!

OK, the video. No shock, clue is in the blog title. I know, shocking, isnt it?

Test cricket, in Ireland, just maybe?

Well, yes, apart from an unmemorable (and wet) 18 overs or so against England, the Ireland cricket season starts on Tuesday, in a big way.

Why, because this time around, the winners of the Inter Continental Cup will get the opportunity to play Test Cricket…maybe! Why maybe, because the ICC change the goalposts, and the end results so often, that many are far from convinced that the rules now, and the rules in nearly 3 years time, when this series are over will be the same, hmm? But in theory, if Ireland win the cup again, we will be in a position to play test cricket. Fine? Lets leave it at that statement for now.

So, in Dublin, on Tuesday, Ireland begin their 4 day campaign against the UAE. I think the Irish weather may come as a shock to our visitors lol! Or hopefully it wont, just a decent, mild day, and nothing more. Its fair to say that no one would have imagined this, for Ireland, in cricket, 10 years ago! Indeed, who, back then, would have imagined that twice, in recent times, 10,000 people (or thereabouts) have been to an Ireland cricket match!

Later this summer, along with Scotland, they will host the qualifiers for the 20 over World Cup, to be held next year as well. And then, at the end of the summer, the World Cup champions, Australia are coming to Belfast for a 50 over match. And on past form, they will be a lot more friendly to media, and fans, than the English will ever seemingly be!

No, at this point, I have no idea if I will get across this summer, or not. Bit of a Catch 22 at present, without a job, I shouldnt be wasting money on jaunts like that, but equally, when I get one, it will be about a 6 week training period, which will kill off most of the international cricket season. So, ideally, my latest interview offers me a job tomorrow, starting on June 15, and I can look at flights to Dublin this week!

I know, I know, this is me, not going to happen, but…

Irish domestic cricket is still growing, for the better. Now, not only do we have an Inter region competition for the men, the ladies have a 3 team contest in its inaugural year. Due to current circumstances in ladies cricket, all 3 teams are based in the Dublin area, but its beginning to develop in other areas of the country, so in good time…

So yes, I hope that in a few years time, I will be at Ireland’s first test match, now wouldnt that be something?

The video, well, its one of the all time greats. And its what I seem to have in Irish cricket

A pair of lovely moments

Well, yes, one of these I did consider mentioning last night, but given I suspected I might be short of fresh material 2 days in a row, I sort of cheated, and left it until tonight. The other, a lovely touch that happened this afternoon, and just reminded me that there are some wonderful old fashioned gentlemen still about, in these modern times.

Strictly, there is a 3rd lovely thing thats happened in the last couple of days, but as thats something I might get to treasure in the future, I’ll hold back on that one for now, either until then, or when I need blog material, when I havent an idea in my head. Lets just say for now, I know a very sweet angel, and leave it at that! 😉 Be interesting to see if she spots this lol.

OK, the one I held back on. Any sports fan, especially cricket ones, will have noticed that the World Cup is being held at present, and yesterday (though strictly, it started Sunday evening, our time), Ireland played their first game, against the West Indies. Many years ago, the West Indies were the mighty force in cricket, and however good Ireland might be, we wouldnt have been expected to win. Though in fact, back in 1969, they underestimated us, and suffered a humiliating defeat, remembered to this day, by anyone Irish, or with Irish ancestry.

But in 2015, there was no danger of them underestimating us, we are a far stronger team now, and they a far weaker one, especially as they have left out a couple of their big names, seemingly in spite, for events unknown. So, despite the bookmakers making it look so (my firm were 1/6 for WI), this was always going to be a tight match.

At 87-5, it didnt look tight, and yes, thats the West Indies in all sorts of trouble, I might add! But somehow, they dug themselves out of a hole, scored just over 300, quite a challenging target for Ireland. Except…

…until near the end, where we decided to make hard work of getting across the winning line, it wasnt. In the end, the Irish victory margin was a comfortable one. And no, the celebrations werent that of a shock result, it was one that Ireland clearly expected to win, and did so. I would love to have seen it live, but the match was in New Zealand, so happened overnight here, so I only saw the Irish run chase the next morning, in a highlights show. I only saw much of the West Indies innings due to finishing at 10.00 Sunday night, then having it on while I caught up on here.

The other nice touch? I had a massage this afternoon, and afterwards, I went to catch the bus back towards town to come home. There were 2 men already stood at the bus stop when I arrived, so I took my place behind them. But, when the bus turned up, both insisted I get on first! I even tried to convince them otherwise, but they weren’t having it.

No, I dont know who either of them was, but if you read this, thank you so much, it was a lovely gesture in these modern times. Tomorrow morning, when getting on the train to work, no, I dont expect the same treatment.

So, lets dip back into the golden oldies pot tonight, for a song title they clearly attributed to me

A few vintage ladies there, but no Jean. Monroe is there though, and lets just say my angel looks a lot like her!

From the sublime, to the ridiculous.

You can say many things about cricket, but a crazy sport is rarely one of them. So fine, all the so called razzmatazz of T20 cricket is designed for show, but even so, generally the game happens, and life goes on.

On Friday, Ireland played Holland in such a match, one of the most staggering games I’ve seen. Earlier in the day, Zimbabwe had unsurprisingly beaten the UAE quite comfortably, and had overtaken Ireland in the table, on net run rate, the decider if teams were tied at the end of the group stage. So basically it came down to (so people thought) that if Ireland won, they went through. If Holland won, it was pretty certain that Zimbabwe would go through, but…

Holland won the toss, and put Ireland into bat, so they knew quite literally what they had to do to qualify. Ireland batted pretty well, amassing a very decent score of 189, in their 20 overs. So now, Holland knew what they had to do. If they won the game, within 14 overs, and 2 balls, then they would qualify. Fine, but that means they have to score at 13.25 runs per over to do it, seemingly not all that likely, if Ireland kept their heads, and bowled well. Any Holland win beyond that point, Zimbabwe went through, and any other result, Ireland would.

Holland went off like their tails were on fire, and in a sense they were. The thing is, it kept coming off, and the ball kept sailing over the boundary, many times without bouncing, for 6’s. I watched it, though it wasnt long before my hands were over my eyes, peering through, watching a road crash for Ireland.

Yes, as is known, Holland actually got there with 3 balls to spare, scoring at nearly 14 runs an over!

So fine, that was the sublime, then came the ridiculous. Having qualified in this amazing fashion, they lined up in the main stage against Sri Lanka, this time batting first. It didnt take long for the wickets to fall, 3 having gone in scoring just 1 run! Thankfully, the pain didnt last too long, they were all out for 39, by far the lowest score ever in a 20 over international. Sri Lanka knocked off the runs in about 5 overs!

I know, different class of bowling attack, and possibly a bit of ‘after the lord mayor’s show’ in that having beaten Ireland, they had nothing left! I have a horrible feeling, their next game on Thursday, against South Africa could be more of the same! Would Ireland have done much better? Who knows, but I feel we wouldnt have subsided quite as horribly as that. Snag is, it leaves those watching associate cricket teams for the first time with a big stick to beat us down with. Ah well…

The video, an almost moment for Holland, shall we say. Eurovision 1974, a lot of people remember the winners, yes, that was the year Abba won! This finished a very respectable 3rd

The luck of the Irish

Rather an apt title for St Patrick’s Day, don’t you think?

Even more apt, after today’s cricket match in Bangladesh, I might add. The 20 over World Cup actually started yesterday, with 2 pretty comprehensive wins for Bangladesh, and Nepal. But cometh today, and cometh ‘Ireland’s Call’ as the men in green started their campaign, with what looked a tricky game, against Zimbabwe. Not guaranteed to be, per se, but likely to be the group decider, first match up!

Ireland win toss, put Zimbabwe in, and they proceed quickly to 56, after the 6 over power play. Not good, but wicket looks decent, so…spinners slow things down through the middle, but then Zimbabwe score quickly again at the end, and total 163 in their 20 overs. Certainly a good score, if not unbeatable, on a fairly small ground.

To say Stirling and Porterfield start off in style, would be putting it mildly, they scored 61 in that 6 over spell! Even when Porterfield goes, it should all be fine. Even when Stirling is out, Joyce and Poynter seem to be leading Ireland to a comfortable win, but…the collapse sets in! Even so, 12 to win off the last 17 balls, 7 off the last 2 overs, and even 4 off the last, shouldn’t be a problem. But it nearly was, only a scrambled bye, off the last ball won us the game.

Seriously guys, I’m 56, my heart isn’t up to tense finishes like that any more! But a win is a win, so…hopefully the next 2 matches are easier than that!

The video, well its not an Irish lass, its an Aussie, but it sums up the end result today

Oh, and the Harlow hairstyle, it will have to wait a week, sadly, as the hairdresser isn’t well, and has had to delay things. Still, staying with the flapper, bob look, hardly a pain, lets face it!

And so as one year ends

Hopefully a new one begins tomorrow! Yes, as of midnight officially, and about 2.30 in the afternoon literally, I will be a year older, reaching the grand old age of 56. Not so long ago, that would have left me 4 years away from a Senior Citizens bus pass, but given they are changing all the rules, due to everyone living longer, it would seem its going to be 9 years now before I get one! Phew?

Yes, 56 years ago tomorrow, in a hospital, a baby was born, who grew up to be me! One change of name later, one change of gender later (at least, but more on that shortly), and I’m still going strong…of sorts! Two crocked knees, one less than perfect wrist, but despite all that, I’m still standing, and no, that isnt the video! 😛 Something far more silly, from my formative years, for that tonight.

Why do I say at least one gender change? Well, its because, around the time I was born, there were several thousand (at least) hermaphrodite babies born, with both sets of genitals. Yes, the drugs given to pregnant women back then were a delight, as one of the ones that followed soon after was Thalidomide, and we all know the consequences of that! Allegedly, doctors, with or without the guidance of parents (though I would imagine the latter) selected which gender the baby should remain, with all the consequences attached.

Now, I have no evidence I was one of those babies, the hospital I was born at was demolished in the mid 1960’s, so even if there are any records, they could be anywhere, besides which, it was probably all covered up anyway, as it was less of an obvious physical issue than Thalidomide victims would be. But, it seems a fair chance, especially given the undeveloped womb I have. But hey, I’ve survived it all this far, and hopefully will a few more years yet.

From a different perspective, something else ended today, the international career of an Irish rugby player, Brian O’Driscoll. What’s more, it ended in the perfect way, with Ireland winning the 6 Nations championship, though they did their best to throw it away, thats for sure! And a new event starts tomorrow, the 20 over cricket World Cup, with Ireland’s first game on Monday, a most apt date. Hopefully events of the same day, 7 years ago can be repeated. Funny, that started a few days earlier, against Zimbabwe, with a tie, and thats the team we are playing on Monday.

Oh, and for the one of you that might be wondering, that Cheltenham competition at work? Guess what, there were 4 prizes, and I came 5th! Ah well…

My birthday treat to myself, a few days break from work, not back now until next Saturday. 3 days off, 2 days holiday, and the fact they give you a day off for your birthday, add up to a 6 day break, even if my birthday break is only on Wednesday, due to the complications of Cheltenham! If nothing else, I should have a new hairstyle by the time I go back to work! And no, no decision made on the dress for tomorrow night yet, either.

So, as a 55 year old, I leave you with a very silly video, care of those wonderful Muppets. This song (not their version) was a hit when I was a teenager, ah well…

I’ll see you again, at 56!

Don’t like Jamaica, oh no, we love it!

Seems to be true for the Irish cricket team at least, again after last night, when they beat the West Indies in a 20 over match, at which they are the current World Cup holders!

The first time an Irish cricket team turned up in Jamaica, was 2007, at the 50 over World Cup, their first major event. For most, expectations weren’t high, and though I watched their first game against Zimbabwe, due to national loyalties. I didnt know an awful lot about them as a group. Lets just say that a few had interesting Irish accents, and leave it at that! Somehow, a tie was conjured up, in a stunning finish, and Ireland had gained a point in their first game.

Next, on St Patricks Day, was that game against Pakistan, that has now gone down in history for so many reasons! An Irish win, and all of a sudden, a bunch of part timers are in the Last 8 of the World Cup, against all expectations. Another win against Bangladesh, and the road to glory was truly being ridden.

Anyway, coming forward to now…As part of the build up to the next 20 over World Cup, Ireland have been in the West Indies getting in some preparation. To say the early results were a bit mixed, would be putting it mildly! But now, at the end of the tour, comes the big 3 matches, against the West Indies. Firstly, two 20 over matches, then a 50 over match on Sunday.

Well, the first of those matches was last night, and Ireland won! I only wish we could bring Sabina Park back to Dublin (or Belfast) and we could be unbeatable! The bowlers were brilliant, restricting the hosts to 116, which didnt look a major target. However, when we were 8-2 in reply, I was beginning to despair, but…Ed Joyce, Gary Wilson and Andrew Poynter turned things around, and led us to victory. Funnily enough, my shift at work ended at 10.00 last night, and the winning runs were scored literally seconds before that, so I knew we’d won before leaving for home, really proud. Hopefully, a repeat tomorrow night.

The video, yes, pretty obvious, isnt it? Live version from 2011, not the original

Oh, and an endpiece. I know its been a while since I really did a transgender issue, which I do like doing, so would love to know what you’d like to hear about. So, either comment here, or send me an email at stephmajor8@hotmail.com , and I’ll do my best to answer

A look back at 2013

The personal version at least. When WordPress issue the yearly stats for this site, I will post the details here, as before, for anyone that cares?

Yes, I know, a couple of days early, but if you saw my shifts for the next couple of days, you’d know why!

I suppose the main thing that has happened this year that surprised me, is that I’m now an ebook author, and have received actual royalties for my stories. Alright, so I currently only have 4 story releases (the 5th early in the New Year), and have only sold 34 books, but if you’d told me at the start of the year that I would have made any money by it, I would have laughed at you! But its been fun, I must say.

This year has seen 3 big trips away from home, one to Belfast for a couple of days cricket (involving a lot of rain, and some cricket) so that I could see Trent Johnston play one more time, before retirement. The other 2, unsurprisingly to the US, the R’s of Rochester, and Richmond. With no disrespect to Kate, or Richmond, the Rochester trip was the special one. The chance to see where Louise Brooks lived for many years at the end of her life, and more importantly still, to pay my respects at her graveside were precious. More on her in the look forward to 2014 on New Years Day, shall we say? 😉

Oh, and the other surprise event, I went to a pop concert! That had been quite a while, I promise you. Yes, I got to see OMD live in Leeds, a sort of full circle seeing that I saw them in concert in 1982, in London as well. I almost saw the Beach Boys in Richmond too, but discovered it too late to sort it all out for me and Kate. Yes, alright, about 3 hours before the concert in fact, far too little notice!

Sports wise, beyond the cricket, I had the coldest game of Baseball I ever hope to have, back in Rochester, in April. I think the official temperature was 43, but I dread to think what it felt like, given the wind chill factor too. I was glad to get a hot coffee (or 2) afterwards, in a valiant attempt to get warm again.

Beyond that, pretty much work, and putting up with Trans Pennine Express, and their awful service took up plenty of time. No comment on either.

The video, well, its not a song tonight. My best selling book (so far) is one called ‘No Place Like Nome’, based loosely around the 2009 Iditarod race, just over half my sales in fact. So the video, well, its Nome, in February 2009, the month before the race the story is about. At one point, they put up the chute, before taking it down again, but dont blink, or you’ll miss it!

Happy New Year to all my readers, see you in 2014

Thanks for the memories

Well, unless anyone has convinced him to stay on until March, for one last stand, today marked the end of one of the most legendary careers in Irish cricket. Yes, today was the last day that David Trent Johnston (better known simply as Trent, or even TJ) played international cricket for Ireland, bring to an end an illustrious career, both in standard white, and of course the famous green clothing.

As I said, thanks for the memories, there are so many.

Its funny though, before March 2007, if someone had pointed him out to me, or even more amazingly, introduced him to me, I would have asked who? Because, lets face it, like so many Irish cricket fans, they only really came flashing into the headlights of fame back then, in the West Indies.

But it wasnt the famous game against Pakistan when I saw him play, I had seen him a few days before, when Ireland had the temerity to force a tie with Zimbabwe. Yes, a few of that team, including Trent, had ‘interesting’ Irish accents, it must be said. In his case, hardly surprising, seeing he was born in New South Wales, Australia.

Even after that, I wasnt holding any major expectations, even on St Patrick’s Day, when Ireland played their next match, that now famous one against Pakistan. And guess who hit the winning runs, the captain that day, Trent Johnston. Despite going on to lose to the hosts, the 2 previous results ensured that Ireland moved on to the next stage, and that next win over a test nation, over Bangladesh.

Legend has it, that only one of the squad had bought enough clothing and things for the extended stay, no prizes for working out who! True or not, I have no idea, but I could believe it.

From there on in, a casual fan of Irish cricket (like many thousands of others) became a much keener fan. In a sense, sadly, when Ireland played cricket in the English domestic limited overs tournament, they rarely did well. But for a good reason, at least half the full strength side (even back then) were playing in the same tournament for their counties. But Trent led the team to a few memorable victories, all the same.

Since then, he’s led the country on a few occasions, though the main role passed on to William Porterfield, in good time, a fine leader himself. And more recently, Kevin O’Brien has taken over from him, when the county players arent around.

Strictly, I havent been introduced directly to Trent, but I’ve sat (or stood) next to him at Belfast a few times. The most recent being this years trip to Belfast, for the Australia A game, when he was literally stood about 2 yards from me, if not less. But no, I’m not a big one for just talking to people I really dont know, so just sat and looked. It probably would have been fine, but…I know… In fact, the main reason I went to Belfast this year was to see Trent play one last time, and I’m glad I did it.

In the recent qualifiers for next years T20 World Cup, Trent played outstandingly, with the bat, as much as the ball, and Ireland comfortably won the competition. Today marked the end of the last stand, the Inter Continental Cup Final (the multi day tournament for non test playing nations) when Ireland again beat Afghanistan. The only sad point, Trent suffered an Achilles injury yesterday, and spent today in the commentary box, not on the field. I’m sure thats not how he wanted it to end, but sadly the body said otherwise.

The nice touch, the trophy presentation afterwards. Normally the captain would go up and collect it, but on this occasion, oh no. Up went Trent Johnston to collect it, quite a fitting moment, handled wonderfully by William Porterfield.

So as I said at the start, Trent, thanks for so many wonderful memories, we will all miss you so much.

The video, something far older than both of us

PS and apology. Mr P, I know you prefer to be called Will, or Porty, but please allow for the fact I’m writing this for people who wouldnt know who I was talking about otherwise.

At the close of the cricketing year, I would also like to thank Roy Torrens, Robin Walsh, Barry Chambers and Ian Callender for their wonderful hospitality earlier this year in Belfast. I would also mention the man from Cricinfo, but I cant remember his name, so this is as good as it gets.