After the announcement of the 2015 World Cup, and that it would now be a 10 team World Cup, I think it showed how far Ireland has come in recent years. Upon the announcement waves of fans not just from Ireland, but fans from India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, to name only a few of them rallied behind the associates cause. I'd like to think Ireland has caused most of the anger among the other nations fans. With the cricket we do bring to the game, the passion we have for the game and the spirit in which we play it.
We might not have the most talented group of players but we will compete and fight to the very last ball. We will field as good as any team out there if not better. Some of the people involved with the full members have come out to support this. Stating the associates or minnows can get found out over the 50 over format and that they should stick to the T20 side of things. Where a batting collapse and a humiliation result is less likely. The thing is though, as far as I saw in the World Cup. Ireland had competed in all but one of the games, which was against South Africa, where we were found a bit shell shocked by some top bowling from Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.
We had infact beaten England and chased the highest total in cricket world cup history. We then also had kept the soon to be champions India within our grasp till the 46th over, and should have chased a small total of 206 against Bangladesh to take another test scalp. We also had the West Indies worried for a large part of the game against them, a dodgy decision going against Irish batsman Gary Wilson for LBW not helping the chase, when he was starting to pick up some steam.
After much of the arguments and debates, and petitions. The ICC did make a u-turn and allowed the associates back into the 2015 World Cup, and currently Ireland head the automatic qualification table with four wins from four, with the top two gaining automatic qualification to the 2015 World Cup.
Some might think the ICC are worried about what Ireland can do if given a proper chance, with substantial funding. Ireland doesn't have the budgets of the big sides, or anywhere near it, but what they do with the small amount they do have is magnificent. One could only dream what we could do with the funding other full member team receive. For a start we could bring in the services of Hamish Marshall, the ex New Zealand batsman, who has claimed his Irish passport through his father. If we could add the experience of Marshall to our middle order it would only strengthen our batting, an area some think is our slightly weak point, of all areas that are needed.
As Waqar Younis recently said after their 2nd ODI victory over Ireland in Ireland, "I think they probably lack one or two batsmen in the middle order.
"They have a solid top-order, but I think they struggle a bit in the middle order, although they missed a couple of players''
"They can make a good side, especially in these conditions.''
Also Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Ijaz Butt also stated, "The fight that the Irish team displayed at the World Cup lit up the event and has added a new flavour to international cricket.''
"We anticipate a hard fought series as the Irish team has shown that they are capable of playing against the best in the world."
I think this a small sample of how Ireland has started to open the cricketing worlds eyes. Our game improves with every match, and it's my opinion we should be given more ODI's against full member sides. We have come as far as we can playing in the ICC four-day cup and one day cup. The time is needed for Ireland to spread it's wings and take on tours outside of Ireland.
Let the ICC help fund these tours, and to and enforce a clause, for when teams come to play England, if they want to play England, they must introduce some sort of small series against Ireland also. Now I know International teams can't have too much extra workload on themselves, but I don't see why they can't send their A teams over to Ireland, it would benefit not only Ireland, but give their younger up and coming youth a chance to get to grip with foreign conditions, something they would find on English wickets.
I think the idea of a two tier test system is the way to go. Having one sided test games these days is not much fun either. Introducing a two tier system, with the West Indies, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Ireland involved in a promotion relegation option. So at the end of the cycle of say two years, the bottom team of the top tier would find themselves playing in the bottom tier. With the top team of the second tier now playing in the top tier for the next two years, or whatever amount of time is necessary.
There has been a lot of talk on this subject, and it's growing with more and more people wanting level test matches, and with that introducing new and fresh talent in the test ranks. I don't think anything could be lost by giving this system a chance to grow. I don't see why Ireland can't be given a straight forward marker for where they need to be in ''X'' years. All we fans hear is silence. It's about time that Ireland have a chance to sit and play cricket with the big boys.
''Ireland have proudly carried the associates' standard for two World Cups in succession. They're not asking for free lunches, just for a fair chance.'' Dileep Premachandran...