Well, when I first saw an Ireland cricket team play live on TV in 2007, I still wasnt expecting this to happen 11 years down the line. Thats not to say that it was the first time I’d ever followed cricket scores for Ireland, as I’d been doing that for a few decades, generally fairly meaningless matches, other than perhaps the rivalry games with Scotland, and the odd knock out game against an English county, but otherwise its fair to say some of the teams they played were of the less than quality standard. Then, in March 2007, having qualified for the World Cup in the West Indies, they conjured up a tie against Zimbabwe, but its fair to say thats not the match anyone really remembers. No, thats the next one, when against all the odds, they beat Pakistan, and history was made. Another win in the second stage (Bangladesh), and the Irish legend was born. Fine, a few of those players werent actually born in Ireland, but if you’d ever accused any of them of not being Irish, well, it wouldnt have been a wise move!
In recent years, its been fair to say that 2 non test playing nations stood above the rest, Ireland, and Afghanistan. Its also equally fair to say thats no longer the case, because they are now test playing nations! Yes, last year, in their ‘wisdom’ the ICC promoted those 2 nations to test playing status. And for Ireland, tomorrow marks the start of that first test, at Malahide, against, yes, you’ve guessed it, Pakistan!
No, sadly, I wont be there. Given I’d already booked to leave for Seattle a week on Saturday, before the date was known, I probably wouldnt have been able to go anyway. Now, with a damaged back, and only able to work a 4 day week, I have no chance of going, regardless. And of course, the first 2 days of the game, I’ll be working. Indeed, Day 4, same thing. I’m pretty certain that unless there are weather issues, it probably wont reach Day 5, but we will see. But hopefully, Sunday, on Day 3, I get to see some on TV.
Next year, I hope to be able to see the team play a test match (holiday plans are currently congested this year), though who against, no idea? Sadly a few of the ‘golden era’ players will be gone by then, some of whom were young players on that memorable day in 2007. Ironically, Ed Joyce was at that tournament, for England!
But yes, tomorrow will be a special day, and even if my first focus tomorrow needs to be on my job, I’ll be wondering how they’re getting on, in my breaks. Not that I’ll be able to look, being a member of the 1% club who dont own, or want to own a smart phone, with internet connection! And yes, my heart will be in Malahide, even if my old body wont be!
Go you boys in Green, though of course they will be in white for a test match!
OK, video time. Most will know, but for those who dont, the Ireland Cricket team is a united team, covering both the Republic, and Northern Ireland. Thing is, that causes anthem issues lol, 2 different countries (or part of). I think this was first created for the united rugby team as an anthem, but the cricket team quickly picked up on it as well. This is the full length version, not the one sung at sporting events. So tomorrow, 11 men cricketers will answer the call for the first time in a test match! Why do I say that? Well, the women played one years ago, but so far, just the one!
Its funny, isnt it, if anyone had said 7 years ago that Ireland would play a cricket match in front of 10,000 people in their own country, I would have roared with laughter at the thought. At that stage, the vast majority of the team were part timers, and hardly ever beaten a major test playing nation in their lifetimes. Alright, apart from the sporadic cup matches against counties, and the annual game against Scotland that occasionally got mentioned in the papers over here, I barely knew anything about the cricket team myself, and I love the sport!
Then came 2007, and the World Cup. First that memorable tied match with Zimbabwe, then that even more amazing victory over Pakistan. Into the next stage they go, and a win against Bangladesh. Fine, that was the end of the glory for that tournament, but suddenly people started noticing Ireland had a cricket team.
But even so, at home, outside of the cricket strongholds, the crescendo was noted, but no flow developed, certainly not in terms of crowds at matches.
Yes, 4 years later, that was when the crescendo developed into tsunami like proportions. Ireland play the old enemy England, by now with a team with full time players, and not just those in county cricket. England get over 325 runs, Ireland are struggling to make it respectable at 111-5, then Kevin O’Brien takes over, and as they say, the rest is history!
I’m not yet claiming that Munster, and even more so, Connacht have forsaken GAA sports for cricket, but there is a lot more played there now, thats for sure. Give it a little while, and there might be more than Leinster and Ulster amongst the provinces strong in the cricket world. Yes, it will take a while, but we’re getting there.
Today, a match was played at Malahide, on the outskirts of Dublin, on a new ground created for our national side. It looked magnificent on TV, though I suspect the wonderful weather might have played a part in that. And fine, so far the stands and facilities are temporary, but one day soon, that might not be the case. And fine, we might have been a few short of the magical 10,000 figure today, but we got pretty close!
The captain, William Porterfield played a magnificent innings of 112. Another Irish born player topped even that, and the top bowler of the day with 4 wickets, were also Irish! Unfortunately the latter 2 were playing for the opposition, but such is life. Its not hard to see that if they’d played for their home nation, we’d have beaten England again, but ah well, things like this happen at the moment. We dared to dream when England were at 25-3, and 48-4 but Morgan and Bopara took the game away.
Why, because at this point in time, Ireland cant play test cricket. They have an ambition to do so by 2020, but in the meanwhile, it seems we will leak the odd player to the old enemy. Another enemy is time, a stalwart of Irish cricket today played his last game against a test nation before retirement, Trent Johnston. He has a few more games yet before the end of the year, but this was the last non associate match game.
We needed a domestic competition, so the ICC said, this year we started one. We needed a top class ground, we now have one. Lets just say that my dream is to see Ireland play a test match very soon, even sooner than 2020 if possible, so that the diaspora from our national side can cease.
The video, no idea why this came to mind