Monday, 10 September 2012

The start of the T20 World Cup is nearing. 

The first team to arrive in Sri Lanka is the small plucky, charisma filled side of Ireland. Ireland's past success was no fluke, whilst this team will attempt to prove it once again.

While Ireland has lost it's surprise factor, Ireland still possess more tricks up their sleeves. With many things having happened, since those warm days in the Caribbean in 2007. What was a bunch of mostly amateurs, except one playing a professional game. Now it's a team consisting of all professionals, except one amateur in no fear of the world's best.

Cricket Ireland has spent many hours and funds, in growing the game in Ireland. Increasing the numbers who participate in Ireland dramatically. With more clubs opening now then ever before. Ireland has very talented players coming through at all levels.

With the likes of Jack Tector, Tyrone Kane, Ryan Hunter, Stuart Thompson, Andrew Balbirnie, Ben Ackland just some of the promising cricketers coming out of Ireland in recent years.

Then recently, Leinster Under 13's claimed their first ever trophy. When they were victorious at the Taunton Festival.

Then throw George Dockrell and Paul Stirling into the mix. All of this bodes very well for Irish cricket in the future.

So much is expected of this Ireland side, going into the T20 World Cup. As I mentioned earlier, the surprise factor is lost. However what was lost, has been made up with vastly improved skill levels.

Ireland have one of the most destructive batsmen out there in Paul Stirling. They also have the hero of the last World Cup in Kevin O'Brien. They have one of the most promising spinners in world cricket in George Dockrell.

Add those players to a potential side, which includes Ireland's veteran Trent Johnston. The colossus of Boyd Rankin with his speed and height. The solid middle order pair of Niall O'Brien and Gary Wilson. The very dependable and talented Ed Joyce.

Ireland's task ahead of them isn't an easy one. They face the hardened Australia and the spiritful West Indies.

Ireland will have to cope with the likes of Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, David Warner, Shane Watson, Pat Cummins, Sunil Narine. Most of these sides have bucket loads of T20 experience, playing against the best in the world. Ireland will need to withstand the pressure of the occasion upon them.

Ireland has to be firing on all cylinders to qualify. However Ireland's ambition is so great, they have gone out and hired Craig McDermott as their bowling coach. While also spending many hours with their baseball based fielding coach Will Lintern. Will Lintern skills were pivotal in Ireland's fielding success at the 2011 world cup.

While they didn't have the best of preparations at home, when South Africa A pulled out of the T20 series in Ireland.

This was helped when they announced two extra T20 games in Sri Lanka to prepare. This is arguably the most prepared Irish cricketing side to leave Ireland.

Ireland are capable of beating both of these sides. They will aim to do exactly that, as they continue to meet the lofty goals they set themselves.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

T20 World Cup - Ireland Preview

Ireland the side who's done so well in all their appearances on the big stage. Many people will expect another Test scalp when they take the field in Colombo, Sri Lanka. However with fewer matches, two only in the group stages.  This will be more difficult, however Ireland are fastly becoming a side capable of beating anyone.

Ireland has players who are becoming big names in the world of cricket. With a lot of pressure on Kevin O'Brien to repeat, or to come close to his heroics in Bangalore. When he smashed a century from only fifty balls. He went onto score a 44-ball century for his side Gloucestershire. To post the highest total in domestic T20 cricket, Ireland will be hopeful of more of this to come.

While his brother Niall(wk) who is back in the side as a specialist batsman. He will also have a chance to fight the gloves back from Ireland's newest keeper. Gary Wilson(wk) will be the more unknown of the players. He was one of the main heroes during the qualifiers to get Ireland to the world cup. He scored 238 runs, with an average of 39.66 at a strike rate of 115.53.

Although Ireland's trump card is with a young 21-year old batsman called Paul Stirling. He provides a real power house at the top of the order. He will not hold anything back, while he is also a very capable spinner. Which will come very handy in the conditions he will face. He scored 357 runs in the qualifiers, at an average of 44.62 with a blistering strike rate of 157.26. While also picking up 9 wickets at an average of 18.55, with an economy of 5.56 at a strike rate of 20.0

Ireland's trump card with the ball, will come from the young 20 year old spinner George Dockrell.
His record for bowling in T20is is quite brilliant. Especially during the qualifiers, picking up 13 wickets. With an average of 16.46 and an economy of 6.14, at a strike rate of only 16. Whilst these conditions will come to his liking. Expect Ireland to challenge, should his name come appear in the wickets column.
Now with Boyd Rankin setting his aim for Test cricket with England. This will be likely his last outing in a world cup environment with Ireland. However being the professional he is, we expect Boyd will put his best foot forward.

Whilst the wickets in Colombo won't favour Rankin much. His 6ft'7  frame and his pace will still be likely to cause a lot of batsman considerable trouble. He often was inconsistent for Ireland, however it appears he's turned a corner. During the qualifiers he picked up 15 wickets. With an average of only 11.06, with an economy as little as 4.25 at a strike rate of 15.6.

While the last player I will have a look at is Ireland's veteran Trent Johnston. This is very likely to be his last appearance at a world cup for Ireland. Although it's for very different reasons then Rankin. Johnston is due to retire shortly after the world cup. Although he has shown signs of staying till the end of the 2015 world cup qualifiers.
Johnston picked up 13 wickets himself with an economy of 5.91 at an average of 16.84. Johnston is very measly with the runs he concedes. His bowling is tight and he won't give anything up without a fight for it. His change of pace and varieties will be vital in conditions that will demand it.

Ireland is a side that has become known for it's fighting spirit, it's grit and determination to the very end. Ireland's fielding is among the best in the world, if not the best fielding in the world. Ireland's main problem is their weakness against spin. While they posess a few players who are talented players of spin, it will fall upon those to hold the side together.

Ireland face Australia and the West Indies, neither side that will succumb to Ireland easily. However Ireland needn't fear them, they have the capabilites to beat both sides.
With Ireland to face the spin threats of Narine and Hogg. While also facing the awesome arsenal of Gayle, Warner, Bravo to name a few.

Ireland doesn't fear anyone, if they can overcome one of these sides then they open endless possibilities.
Ireland's side is a good mix of aggression mixed with a dose of calmness. Plenty of medium pace bowlers with one particular aggressor. While it also holds tricky, plucky spin options.

Likely Ireland XI
William Portefield(c)
Paul Stirling

Ed Joyce
Niall O'Brien
Gary Wilson
Kevin O'Brien
Stuart Thompson

Tim Murtagh
Trent Johnston
Boyd Rankin
George Dockrell

Monday, 6 August 2012

2011 Cricket World Cup - Can Lightning Strike Twice?

2011 Cricket World Cup - 

While all the talk of associate teams bringing the level of cricket down. With many so called experts claiming they were ruining the game of cricket. With some feeling they weren't needed and they should stick to the full members. Which in itself is quite ludicrous as the full members already had the Champions Trophy. A competition which was for all the full members.

So with the possibility at the time of the next 50 over World Cup, having only the ten full member nations. It was vital that the associates put on a good showing. While not much was realistically expected from Kenya and Canada. The real possibility of a shock was to come from giant killers Ireland. With all notable mention going towards the Netherlands.

First up for Ireland was their most likely targeted team for an upset. They were to face Bangladesh and having deciding to bat first, they got away to quite a flyer. With both Irish opening bowlers being dispatched around the ground. Then they were to soon realise pace off the ball was key here.

With Niall O'Brien creating a piece of magic behind the stumps to stump Kayes. While they were to continue losing many wickets. With the next one falling due to some very shoddy running. When Ed Joyce ran Siddique out. Who would only be followed by Iqbal a few overs later. With Botha removing the huge wicket of Iqbal, after Porterfield completed the rest.

While Porterfield did drop Shakib Al Hasan, he would soon be let off the hook. When Botha completed a very nice caught and bowled, to leave the home crowd stunned. Then Dockrell was brought back and he had Rahim sweeping, which resulted in a top-edge to White.

While Bangladesh never got anything going after that. With lots of crafty bowling by Ireland's two veterans, joined by Dockrell and Rankin. Left Bangladesh all out for 205. Giving Ireland a total of 206 for victory.
Things wouldn't be made too easy for Ireland either. Although Stirling was given a lifeline early on, he wouldn't make full use of it. As he was just about stumped inside the 6th over.

With the pressure appearing to get to Ireland, as next to go was the captain Porterfield. Niall O'Brien and Ed Joyce put on a decent partnership but Joyce would fall. Getting the leading edge from Ashraful who completed the caught and bowled. He would then remove White,  leaving Ireland in all sorts of trouble.

While it might have been expected of the O'Brien brothers to see the side home. Niall O'Brien chipping down the ground, which Iqbal caught quite brilliantly inches off the turf.

Then Kevin O'Brien smacked a six, then in the next over. Botha was able to find the boundary before Kevin hit consecutive fours. As it appeared Ireland were in the driving seat again. However with 55 runs needed, Bangladesh struck the killer blow. Trying to clear the ropes Kevin pulled one down the throat of Shuvo.

With Mooney, Botha and Johnston removed within a short space of time, it ended Ireland's chances in the game. With the wicket of Rankin sealing the victory for Bangladesh by 27 runs.

With Ireland bringing themselves very close to victory, then to lose it so narrowly. It wasn't going to make the calls for the cull of the associates any quieter. While next up for Ireland was their bitter rivals England. With most people believing the chance for victory and qualification, was down to beating Bangladesh.

However with that loss happening, it didn't leave much hope for the rest of the tournament.

England having won the toss, decided to have a bat first.

While Pietersen and Strauss made light work of the opening overs. With neither batsmen in particular trouble. While it took 81 balls for the first wicket to fall. Dockrell bowling the birthday boy Strauss for 34 on his 34th birthday.

While Trott then hit Mooney with distain for consecutive boundaries, before Pietersen then launched him for six.
Then of all the ways Pietersen would likely be dismissed. He went for the reverse-dab against Stirling. However it only resulted in the top edge to Niall behind the stumps.

While Bell and Trott painfully piled the misery and the runs on Ireland. In a partnership worth 166, it was broken by Mooney. With Stirling taking a stunning catch, low to his right at midwicket to dismiss Bell.

Trott would then fall to a most unglamorous and uncharacteristic shot, trying to stand and deliver. Instead Mooney had his off stump knocked over. Then Johnston had Prior removed with the stumps once again disturbed!

While Collingwood did find the big six, he was then removed by Mooney. Caught well by Kevin at mid-on. Johnston would reach a nice milestone, bowling Yardy for his 50th ODI wicket.

With the last wicket to fall to Mooney, removing Bresnan on the last ball of the innings.

Could Ireland chase down the target of 328!

''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

"I have one brother on the team, but 13 more wearing green here in India," said Niall O'Brien.

"We'd die for each other," said John Mooney. "These are my blood brothers."

To be continued...

Friday, 13 July 2012

We don't like cricket, we love it!

Ireland had qualified for the 2007 World Cup:

Having being placed in a group with the West Indies, Zimbabwe and arguably the favourite's to win the tournament in Pakistan. Not much was expected of the Irish side. This wasn't going to be the case for this Associate side. While also having to facing the difficult sides they were to face, this was also Ireland's debut in the World Cup,

As Ireland's first game came against Zimbabwe, whilst being sent into bat first. The nerves were on show for Ireland as wickets were falling in regular intervals. However Jeremy Bray showed a strong hand when he produced a stunning 115(139), which gave Ireland a competitive 221/9

With Zimbabwe seeming in cruise control at 128/3, they were to lose a vital wicket of opener Sibanda. Which appeared to cause some worry in their ranks, as they then managed to lose 6 more wickets for only 93 runs. Which left them all out for 221 and Ireland somehow managed to tie the game.

Despite that marvellous result, Ireland still needed to overcome Pakistan. Whilst many of you who believe in superstition would have thought Ireland were destined to win. While the neutrals, experts and most likely Pakistan thought the result was a formality.

Having won the toss on a green wicket, whilst playing the game on St.Patrick's Day and sending a side wearing green into bat first. Some might feel this just might have been Ireland's day.

Ireland had given even the most pessimistic and skeptic of fans, reason to believe and remain positive. As Ireland had first managed to bowl Pakistan out, while restricting them to a paltry 132.

Ireland had begun to show more nerves as many wickets were falling. Although once again Ireland had another hero, this time it was Niall O'Brien(wk). He managed to score 72(106) to hold the innings together. With his brother Kevin seeing the side home, along side Trent Johnston(c).

With that monumental victory it had created arguably the greatest sporting upset of all time.
While all of this was brilliant for Irish cricket, they had now to face another challenge. Having done the impossible and beating Pakistan, they had now qualified for the Super 8's.

With many of the supposed experts having thought Ireland would be found out at this level. Giving Ireland no chance of doing well and saying we didn't deserve our spot in the Super 8's. Ireland had done what every other side had achieved, by gaining the points needed to gain entry to this stage and they warranted their spot. Ireland were prepared to refute their claims.

Despite giving England a shock, having run them close but eventually losing out by 48 runs. Many people felt we were showing reasons why we shouldn't have qualified for this stage.

With some not so close loses to South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Australia. Many other sides, would have dropped their heads and given up. However much about this side is to be admired. They would have another game, this time against Bangladesh.

Ireland won the toss and decided to bat, with this being the performance where it all came together. With gutsy opener Porterfield leading from the front with a strong 85(136). With Kevin O'Brien also adding a vital 48(44) to help propel the Irish total to 243/7

While many would have expected Bangladesh to chase this competitive total down. This wasn't to be the case, as they kept losing wickets at regular intervals. With only two of their batsmen achieving scores in the 30's.

Which resulted in Ireland bowling Bangladesh out for 169, giving Ireland a 74 run victory.

This was quite a performance by the Irish side throughout the World Cup. Where they went into the competition as easy beats, underdogs, also-rans. Nobody expected much from the Irish side, they had expected an early exit from Ireland. However nobody gave that script to Ireland, as they provided their own brand of cricket.

People would admire the passion and grit they would show in their performances. Having competed on the cricket field, with world class fielding. Showing a determination that couldn't be matched by many, if any at all.

This wouldn't be the last of the Irish cricket odyssey, they would continue to compete at all levels.

What was meant to be a few weeks in the Caribbean was nicely summed up by the Captain, Trent Johnston.

''They laughed at me! There I was in Dub Airport, struggling with my luggage... mates were laughing at me because I had 3 bags. 'Just you wait' I told them 'I've packed for 7 weeks not 3!''

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Irish Cricketing History Part 1

Cricket is a long-established sport in Ireland. However due to recent successes in the 2007, 2009 and 2011 World Cups. Cricket in Ireland has enjoyed quite a huge increase in popularity.

Most notable the first victory in 2007, when Ireland stunned the cricketing world. When Ireland was able to defeat one of the favourites for the entire tournament in Pakistan. Having before that, come back from the dead to tie with Zimbabwe. Then showing they weren't just one hit wonders, when they comfortably defeated Bangladesh in the Super 8's.

Then in the 2009 T20 World Cup, they were able to produce another Test scalp when they defeated Bangladesh. Then arguably the biggest upset of all time, when they chased down England's 327 to win by three wickets. With special thanks for Kevin O'Brien, who scored the fastest World Cup century of all time with a century from 50 balls.

Ireland was introduced to cricket in the early 19th century, in the towns of Kilkenny and Ballinasloe. The first national Irish team played in 1855 against the Gentlemen of England, the game was played in Dublin.
The game was developed in Ireland, with most of the work done by the coaching Englishman Charles Lawrence. Ireland was visited for their first time by touring professional sides in the 1850's and 1860's, with it's first match coming against Marylebone Cricket Club(M.C.C) which occurred in 1858.

With the dominance of Kilkenny in the current National Hurling League of Ireland. It could be argued the introduction of Cricket was a strong aid in this development. Hurling is arguably the most popular sport that is currently being played in Ireland. With Gaelic football alongside it, in the popularity stakes.

The game of cricket became increasingly more popular until the 1980's. However through Ireland's aim for independence and it's fight for freedom. The Gaelic Athletic Association enforced a ban of all foreign games in the 1980's. Which only resulted in stunting the growth of cricket in Ireland.

This ban was not lifted until 1970, nearly a century later. Whilst anyone playing foreign games would be banned from the more popular national sports of Hurling and Gaeilic football.

Irish teams still toured Canada and America in the years of 1879, 1888, 1892 and 1909. Even more interesting, Ireland managed to defeat a touring South African side in 1904.

Ireland's first match with first-class status was on the 19th of May 1902, which was contested by a London County side. Which included the legendary W.G. Grace. The Irish team was captained by Sir Tim O'Brien, the Irish side lost quite convincingly by 238 runs.

Tim O'Brien was born in Dublin who played cricket for England in five Test matches. He was a powerful right-handed batsman. During his playing career, he played in 266 first-class matches as an amateur for Oxford University.

He was well known for his hard hitting innings, with his highest score being 202. This came alongside Robert Slade Lucas, they pair put on 338 in only 200 minutes. He also captained Ireland and England, he recorded a top score of 167 against his alma mater. For the country of his birth, during a brief Irish tour of England. This remained an Irish record until 1973.

The Irish Cricket Union had been officially founded in 1923, however it's predecessor had been active since 1890.

However cricket in Ireland never got worldwide popularity untill events that took place in the 2007 World Cup.

The Irish Cricket Association joined the ICC in 1993, which had given Ireland the chance to enter the World Cup Qualification system. However it wasn't until 2007 when Ireland would first qualify for the Cricket World Cup.

Twelves teams competed to qualify for this World Cup from the associate sides.
Bermuda, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Namibia, Netherlands, Oman, Papa New Guinea, Scotland, Uganda, United Arab Emirates and the United States.

Ireland had a comfortable enough time in Group A, finishing in 1st place. While Scotland were the side to finish in first place in Group B.

Which would leave Ireland and Scotland to battle it our for the overall winner. However by Ireland had qualified for the semi-finals on July 7th, which had won them places in the 2007 World Cup. Also granting them official One Day International status from the 1st of January 2006.

Scotland had posted an impressive 324/8 in their innings, which Ireland was unable to chase. Ireland Managed 277/9 from their alloted overs.

However they still had the main prize of qualifying for the biggest prize of all, the 2007 Cricket World Cup.


Sunday, 17 June 2012

The Most Key Members of the Irish Squad for the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka.

Paul Stirling: 

The most dangerous and exciting opener is Paul Stirling. A very strong and clean hitter of the cricket ball, he will leave nothing on the field. He will be more likely to strike a six down the ground first ball, rather than pat the ball towards off.

Most people will know him for scoring the 2nd fastest century of the last World Cup. While others might know him for his blistering play in the T20 WC Qualifiers this year. He scored 357 runs at an average of 44.62 with a hot strikerate of 157.26. While he was also profitable with the ball, picking up 9 wickets at an average of 17.44 with an economy of 5.56 and a strikerate of 20.

There is few boundaries outside of his reach and if he is to get going. Then it will go a long way to helping Ireland claim another Test nation scalp.

Ed Joyce:

Ed Joyce isn't the most attacking of batsmen in the Irish side. However he provides the calming influence to the batting that is needed. He is the anchor to the Irish side, with everyone batting around him. He is a classy left-handed batsman, the Irish Dravid. He will likely leave the big strokes to the O'Briens and the Stirling's of the team. He will rotate the strike and keep on end shut. Often in the past Ireland were succeptibale to collapses. While the introduction of Joyce has helped cease this from happening.

His T20 figures are very good, with a highest score of 78* at an average of 44.25. His strikerate of 99.43 is still quite low, however if he can anchor the role for Ireland. Then anything over 100 should be a sufficient addition to a good score.

Gary Wilson(wk)

Gary is one of the most improved cricketers for Ireland over recent years. Many times he was needed to provide a vital knock during the qualifiers. He had a very successful tournament with 238 runs scored, with a top score of 52* coming at an average of 39.66 with a strike rate of 115.53.

He's an aggressive batsman and clean hitter, he will be one of the most vital batsmen in our T20 squad. He's become very consistent and hopefully for Ireland, he can bring the form he showed in the qualifiers into the World Cup.

Niall O'Brien(wk):

After missing out on the T20 Qualifiers because of his participation in the Bangladesh Premier League.  With his decision to play for the BPL causing him to lose his spot in the side. He will be raring to show the Irish selectors what he can do again. He is comfortably the best player of spin in the Irish side and with the World Cup being held in Sri Lanka. Ireland will need to be on their guard to teams packing their squads with spinners.

He is a very strong hitter of the ball, while he also is a very talented keeper. One of the most underrated keepers in the game of cricket. Ireland will need Niall at his best to help guide their side. Much like he was able to do when he scored the vital knock of 72 vs Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup.

Boyd Rankin:

Boyd Rankin repersents the pace of the Irish side, with all respect to Johnston, Mooney and O'Brien. Rankin is the member of the side likely to bowl near to 90mph. He has improved vastly as a bowler in recent years. With his height and bounce, he will certainly cause trouble to batsmen. His recent figures for the T20 Qualifiers were quite brilliant. He picked up 15 wickets, at an average of 11.06 with an economy of 4.25 at a strikerate of 15.6. His best figures for the tournament were 4-9.

While pace isn't likely to always go too well on the surfaces in Sri Lanka. Rankin is capable of making a name for himself in the upcoming WC.

George Dockrell:

George Dockrell is the surprise package in the Irish bowling attack. He is only 19 years old and is one of the most exciting spinners in world cricket. In his short career to date, he's accumulate 206 wickets in all forms so far. With special notice to his T20I stats, where he's picked up 24 wickets, at an average of 11.79 with an economy of 5.28 and a strikerate of 13.3.

He's a slow left-arm orthodox bowler, who continues to impress for Ireland. With spin likely to make a huge part of the T20 WC, the overs by Dockrell will be vital to Ireland's cause.

Key Aggresive Opening Batsman - Paul Stirling
Key Batsman Gary Wilson
Key Middle Order Batsman - Niall O'Brien(wk)
Key Bowler - George Dockrell

While Ireland remains an outside for the World Cup. One scalp out of their two games could go a long way to helping them progress to the next round. These mentioned players are the most vital players in the side. Although Ireland will look to the experience of Trent Johnston and Alex Cusack and Kevin O'Brien to name a few.
With this World Cup being the last hurrah for Trent Johnston, he will want to go out on a high. This team doesn't go to the World Cup to make up the numbers. They firmly believe they can progress far into the tournament and possibly win it outright.

"Having watched Ireland play and also in training, and talked to the likes of Trent Johnston and Boyd Rankin, it's not hard to guess why they so consistently punch above their weight. If you could bottle the spirit within the camp, it would sell as well as Guinness or Bushmills. They're a tight unit, and take such joy in each other's successes." - Dileep Premachandra

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Next we look at the other opponent of Ireland, in the group stages of the T20 World Cup.

We will look at the West Indies, a talented side when they turn up to play. However more often than not the bad West Indies turns up. A team of great things in the past, which a rich history. However long gone are those glory days.

However under a new coach, things are starting to become more consistent for this side. Although they have been hampered like many sides when it's come to the IPL. With some of their star players deciding to play for glory in India, over their national side.

We will look at the key and most dangerous batsman they possess.

(Chris Gayle)

In my opinion he is the most dangerous T20 batsman playing cricket. He can single handily win games for any side. With no boundary in the world out of his reach. There is very few words that can be said about Gayle, that hasn't already been said. A flick by his standards, would leave most batsmen struggling to match the distance he covers.

In the recent IPL he smoked 733 runs, with a top score of 128* whilst doing so at an average of 61.08, with a strike-rate of 160.74. Nobdy came close to him in this IPL or the previous IPL.

When he gets in, he is rarely stopped. Unless a side can get him out quickly, then the game can be all over within a few overs. If he does have any apparent weakness, it would appear spin first up is something a side can try against Gayle.
Or some of the new ball bowlers with top pace, like Steyn was able to frustrate him at times. He at times during the IPL wouldn't face the first delivery, if spin was put in his way. So it appears there is a possible weakness there. Or perhaps an immaculate line on the 4th stump line, can have him tied up.

Dwayne Smith is another possible opener with Gayle.

He is another powerful opener, not in the same class as Gayle. However he showed glimpses again, during the Caribbean T20 and the IPL of what he is capable of doing. Although he is far more inconsistent than Gayle. While his T20i average isn't anything special at 15.83, however his strike-rate of 143.93 is a far better stat to view. He often gets away to a good start but soon falls to a careless stroke. A key word for most of the West Indies squad is inconsistency, or lacking restraint.

The next key player for the West Indies is their all-rounder Dwayne Bravo. Another player who has spent long periods of time in the IPL. He is a flashy player, who likes to play his strokes under any circumstance. Who is also a very capable medium pace bowler. Having finished with 15 wickets in the last IPL, while also scoring 371 runs at 46.37 with a strike-rate of 140.53.
He is a vital part of the middle order for the West Indies, with plenty of experience in the T20 format.

Kieron Pollard is the most inconsistent batsman in the West Indies side. However like Gayle he is capable of destroying any bowling attack. There is also similarities between himself and Gayle, with their struggle against spin. However it would appear Pollard has a longer struggle with tackling spin. While Gayle just appears to struggle at the start of his innings.

Pollard is also a tricky bowler, who picks up vital wickets with his tame pace. He doesn't send it down the track at any great speed. Perhaps with batsmen being tied down at one end, they see the slower deliveries of Pollard and try to get stuck into him. Whilst doing this, it leads to their downfall. As he is a crafty bowler with a few tricks up his sleeve.

Sunil Narine is the surprise package for the West Indies. When he appeared in the Caribbean T20 in 2011, there was doubts raised over his action. Which was eventually straightened out by bio-mechanical experts in the University of Western Australia in Perth. However the new action that was tweaked was even more devastating to the opposition batsmen.

In the 2011 Champions League he took 10 wickets at an average of 10.50, with an economy of only 4.37. He was even more successful in the 2012 IPL, with 24 wickets this time. With an average of 13.50 and an economy of 5.47.
He had some of the top batsmen in the league bamboozled, as they tried their best to figure him out.

Ireland will find both Australia and the West Indies difficult opponents. However neither side should take Ireland for granted. With Ireland very capable of beating both of these sides. If Ireland can dismiss Chris Gayle early, whilst coming to terms with the variations of Narine. There is no reason why they can't come out on top.

This will be a difficult task for Ireland, although it's a challenge they will most certainly be up for.

Key Batsman - Chris Gayle

Key All-rounder - Dwayne Bravo

Key Bowler - Sunil Narine

Key Strength - Aggressive Approach

Key Weakness - Aggresive Approach/Inconsistency

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Key opponents Ireland will face in the group stages of the T20 World Cup 2012 in Sri Lanka. First I will look at Australia, arguably the stronger of the two sides that Ireland will face.

The likely openers for Australia will be Shane Watson & David Warner.

Shane Watson an aggressive opening batsman, with the ability two hit the ball out of any ground in the world. Even the boundaries in Colombo might be easily reachable by him. However if he has a weakness, it would be to good pace early into his innings. He's likely to be found LBW over most dismissals. While he also has two strings to his bow, with his ability to bowl. He bowls fast-medium deliveries with a canny ability to pick up valuable wickets. Ireland might only have one bowler brisk enough to initially worry Watson. However he's the type to find the accurate and disciplined bowling of Ireland frustrating. Which could be one of the best ways to dismiss Watson.

David Warner also another very aggressive opener for Australia. However he's more susceptible to spin more so than pace. He might find the accuracy of Ireland's George Dockrell something difficult to get away.
However he is much shorter batsman then his fellow opener. Although he packs a strong punch, also having the ability of depositing most bowlers out of the ground.

Ireland will need to dismiss the two openers quickly. With either of them getting in, it could be disaster for Ireland. As they're both likely to rack of huge scores, while doing so quickly.

While the two Husseys brothers are two middle order batsmen that will trouble Ireland. With both of them excellent players, with Michael Hussey being the better player of spin. However David Hussey is the bowler of the family.

He bowls off-break and has been known to specialize in T20 cricket. With a T20i average of 19.10, at a very decent strike-rate of 18.0 whilst having 19 wickets to his name.

While Michael Hussey has a top score of 60* at an average of 37.85 with a rampant strike-rate of 147.63.

Brad Hogg will be their mystery spinner. He bowls slow left-arm chinaman deliveries, while he played for Australia he bamboozled batsmen across the world. However he had initially retired in the summer of 2007-08, however he recently left the commentator position. Only to return to grade cricket in Perth. While his enthusiasm he displayed in his stint with the Perth Scorchers had led to a recall, despite the age of 40.

Ireland will be doing well to pick his wrong'un and this tricky spinner, could cause a lot of trouble for the Irish batsmen if their not on their guard.

Brett Lee is the veteran of the Aussie pace attack. Whilst remaining one of the most adored cricketers in the world. He still has the pace to trouble any top order batsman in the game today. Don't take his smile for granted, behind the smile is a fierce competitor who will soon have one flying past your grill. A lot of the Irish batsmen will enjoy the pace and the ball coming onto the bat.

The Aussies overall as a team are one of the best sides in the world. Overall they're very strong in every department, especially with their fielding. However if Ireland can produce good tight, accurate and disciplined fielding. There is no reason why Ireland can't add another scalp to their already long list of Test nation scalps.

Key Batsman - Michael Hussey

Key All-rounder - David Hussey

Key Bowler - Brad Hogg

Key Strength - Fielding

Key Weakness - Overconfidence

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Ireland Need More Full Member Fixtures

The main problem Ireland faces is a lack of competitive games, we need more exposure to the full member sides. Ireland is in associate level competitions. We play a four-day and a one day compeition among other associate countries. 

While we do compete in many fixtures this way. There is the outcry about the lack of challenges we face in the games. Ireland has a win ratio in the 95%+ range against the other associates sides.

When the news broke about the idea of limiting the 2015 World Cup to full member countries. The outcry was overwhelming, however Cricket Ireland chairman David Williams received a lot of support for the Irish side. He visited India after the announcement, with this he also met BCCI chairman Shashank Manohar. 

"One of our ambitions is to increase our ODI exposure against full members to between 10 to 15 per annum, and we received some support from Full Members to accommodate us," Williams said. "There is, without question, among all the Full Members chairmen I spoke to, considered to be very clear water between us and the rest of the Associates."

With South Africa and Bangladesh reportedly lending Ireland more support, for their push to get more games against the full members.

However the drive for games was given a big blow when Zimbabwe turned down an offer from Cricket Ireland, for a tour in late 2011. They cited the reason was because of a lack of a gap in their ICC future tours programmes and domestic calendar.

Although Ireland did receive a timely boost when Pakistan agreed to visit for a two match ODI series. A series which was won by Pakistan 2-0, despite the one sided affair in the first ODI. The second ODI was a far more level game, which had got the attention of many in the Pakistan side.

Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Ijaz Butt said prior to the tour. ''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''

Waqar Younis admitted to enjoying Paul Stirling's knock.

''It was an interesting game. Credit should be given to Ireland, especially Stirling''

"All the spectators would have enjoyed that knock, one of the best I've seen for a while.

"He doesn't slog, he plays proper cricket shots and even I enjoyed every bit of it. He hits the ball far, he has good footwork, plenty of time and he's not scared of the short ball. He looks a promising player."

''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''

If a team with a busy schedule like Pakistan can find time to come to Ireland for a two match ODI series. Then why can't the other bigger sides follow, especially with England being a stone's throw away from Irish shores.

England had come over for a ODI in 2011, however with bad weather the game got reduced significantly. England were the eventual winners by 11 runs (D/L method).

Ireland also received a formal request from the Bangladesh cricket board, for Bangladesh to tour Ireland in July. They sought to play a four-day game, two ODI's and also one or two T20i's.

Although the news was very positive to read, the plans were very nearly scuppered by financial constraints. As Cricket Ireland needed to raise between 120,000/150,000 in order to cover the Bangladesh's costs.

As Ireland is the host country, the bill would fall upon Ireland. As members of the Future Tours Programme, full Test playing members receive a grant from the ICC for costs incurred. They receive between €5.5/7 million for these costs. Whilst Ireland as an associate member receives a measly €520,000.

So people often question why Ireland hasn't invited more sides over to participate in games. Why we play so few games against full member sides.

Basically if Ireland are not faced with competing with the ICC Future Tour Programme, they also have to try to find funds that simply aren't there.

The budget Ireland has at present is being used for the hosting of Afghanistan, for a four-day Intercontinental Cup game and two World Cup qualifiers at the start of July. While also hosting the South African ''A'' squad for a highly anticipated month long tour in August. 

While also having Australia over for a once off ODI in Belfast in June. However that is expected to be self-funding after Sky Sports agreed to cover that game.

Maybe people while reading this will start to realise, how much restraints and road blocks Cricket Ireland and other associates come across trying to host games. Things that come without much fuss or effort for the full member sides. That get taken for granted by their fans are of hugely difficult proportions for the smaller sides. That the sums of money that cause no concern to them, are of great magnitude to the associates.

Ireland has put in a request to the ICC for extra funding to host full member tours, that their application coincided with Bangladesh having no cricket scheduled between May and August.

''We have put a request in with the ICC for Targeted Assistance and Performance Programme Funding (TAPP)," high performance director Richard Holdsworth said.

"The main part of that application has been to increase the numbers of matches with full members.

"CI chief executive Warren Deutrom and myself made that application to the ICC's Financial and Commercial Affairs committee. The idea of it is to bridge the gap between the top six full members, the remaining full members and the top two associates. "

Also with Bangladesh having their own plans for fixtures denied for different reasons. 

"Around that time, Bangladesh got in touch with Warren, and said: 'We would very much like to play Ireland'," Holdsworth continued.

"That is a little change in culture, for full members to be coming to us and asking for games! But it reflects how far Irish cricket has come."

Ireland eventually received the funding to go ahead with the tour. With the funding coming from the ICC's High Performance Program as well as ICC Europe. However the tour was reduced to 3 ODI'S for Ireland, whilst the Netherlands and Scotland also received one ODI each. While Ireland would also play a single warm-up game ahead of the three ODI'S.

It's a crime to cricket that the saga of this tour would take so long to be settled. For a small amount of 120,000/150,000 this tour had the strong possibility of not going ahead. In this day and age of cricketers receiving this sum of money for a few weeks works in the IPL, or in some cases an awful lot more. It would be sad for the true fans of cricket not to have a chance to witness this tour. 

As Ireland go in search for more games, they submitted a proposal to play 12/15 ODI'S a year to recognise their rising standards. Under their proposal, the ICC would help to identify the gaps in the existing Future Tours Programme where Ireland could be accommodated for ODI'S.

Cricket Ireland tried to validate their case that they've rapidly outgrown their fellow associates and need further challenges. The senior side coached by Phil Simmons, has won 30 of its last 33 games against associate members of the ICC. While also have notable big name scalps against Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, West Indies and England. While also running many major sides very close.

"Our battle is to convince ICC to fund cricket nations on the basis of merit and need, not of entitlement," Deutrom said.

As Ireland continue its fight to have a seat among the full members, they will need to at least get more games and funding. At present with the funding we do receive and the games we our given, we are doing marvellous things. 

With the wealth of the ICC and other full member sides, I think it should fall upon them to help the associate countries out. When a full member like India tours England, why not send their ''A'' squad over to help Ireland out. Or even play some of their warm up games against Ireland.

Often the English county sides who participate in these warm up games, don't always field their strongest sides. Recently Sussex played the West Indies in a warm up game, ahead of the West Indies tour of England. However several of the Sussex first team had been rested ahead of a more important county championship game.

I'm not saying Ireland can always guarantee victory against these big sides. However we always give it 110%, if we can only get more competitive fixtures against the Test sides, we can only improve from the experience.

If we can compete as we are now with the few games we are given, from the scraps of the full members table. Then one can only imagine how successful we could be with a lot more consistent flow of games. 

If we can produce the quality of players we are doing so now, with the limited funding we do receive. One can think of the quality of players we would produce in the future, with the funding to build more training academies, the stadiums and improvements on currently running clubs.

I understand Ireland is one associate member, whilst all other associates also dream of playing more full member sides. However my opinion comes from Ireland being the leading light of associates. While other associates haven't always performed when put on the big stage. Ireland always produces when given the chance.

Some might think the full member sides are worried, dreading to think that they could be the next scalp for Ireland. As Ireland continues to improve, the regularity of our scalps will come more and more often, till a time when people realise we are no longer minnows and are a potent and powerful side.

''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

Without naming other countries, Ireland has not been given a free ride in any of this. Anything Ireland has achieved, it's from their own work. Or for the way they have conducted themselves on the cricket field and off the field. We have battled for everything we have received and this side is still willing to battle some more...

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Over indulgence of T20 leagues are proving toxic

Is cricket’s new dimension, T20 along with its leagues, killing the game of glorious uncertainty?

T20 cricket is being played almost all-round the year. Rather than T20 international games, it’s the leagues which are being played all-round the year.  In these leagues the cricketers are gaining the tag of ''specialist'' T20 players.

The likes of Kireon Pollard go around the world selling his services in cricket. You can find him in Mumbai for one league, then a few months later he might be seen in Taunton, Somerset.
While the West Indies are playing a less financially glamorous Test series vs Australia, Pollard is seen blazing for the Mumbai Indians. Pollard relishes the shorter format more than the longest format no matter how gifted he is to fit for the longest format.

Also his fellow West Indian player Sunil Narine is playing for Kolkata Knight Riders sidelining his national team’s call. Again, an injured Virender Sehwag is found fit to play for the IPL. Sehwag was found absent for the Asia Cup where India failed to reach the finals.

It wasn't all doom and gloom, Michael Clarke the Captain of the Australian side. He had withdrawn his services to T20 cricket; however it seems he's now had his head turned by the so called glamour of the IPL.

Representing own country is being left in the cold. The passion to play for the national side is there no more. The prides of representing one’s own country seems far and cry at present. It’s being mauled by killer trains named IPL, BPL, BBL and so on.

These leagues offer money and glamour which attracts the players across the globe like a magnet. The players fall a prey to such lucrative and mouth watering offers and thus ignores the country’s call where they are extremely needed. They all become the passengers of a crazy money train.

Former Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga recently condemned the ICC and India, for focusing too much attention to T20 cricket at the expense of Test cricket.

“Their interest is to try and get more money to their cricket boards, more money to the country rather than protecting the game. This is the disaster we face,”

I think when people across the world are living in poverty at an all time high we still have these auctions with some players being purchased in millions. The money that is being spent is beyond one’s thinking at a time when the world is going through an economic crisis.

Where the hell all these money comes from?. I am not against innovation in cricket. I am not against the change. I am here also is following IPL but it’s not as important as the Test match going on at Dominica. IPL offers entertainment but it can’t offer twits and thrills which a Test match can. And I want the best men who have sidelined their national call for the sake of such leagues, to contest for their national team on the thrilling canvas of Test cricket.
For a true cricket fan Test cricket matters most.

Where some countries are struggling to field their best sides, then perhaps T20 needs to take a step back for a change.

Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan has called for India to give priority to Test cricket. If they were to continue giving too much emphasis to Twenty20's then India would be reduced to a "walkover team in Test cricket."

"India needs to think seriously... have they put too much emphasis on IPL, T20 cricket. It's great entertainment but how to compare T20 with Test cricket. Test cricket is the ultimate test of the skills of a player."

India’s back to back whitewash against England and Australia had been pathetic for the fans. And while enjoying this year’s IPL I am sure the Indian fans are feeling an unknown pain deep down thinking that their men in blue aren’t at the top in Test cricket anymore.

The format that appears to be in a hypoxic state is Test cricket. Nothing makes the argument more severe than the recent Test series between Sri Lanka and England where the Test series wasn't given the three matches go ahead because the Sri Lankan board wanted their players to participate in the IPL.

IPL was the top most priority over Test cricket. The choice of the players and officials were not country but to earn money.

Now we have Lasith Malinga refusing to sign the central contract offered by the Sri Lankan cricket board. This is the first time a player has refused to give service to his nation. With his agent stating the player isn't happy with the amount that he was offered.

The signs were there for all to see when in 2011, he retired from Test cricket. He was asked to return from the IPL to get ready for the Test series in England. He didn't return giving the excuses of knee problems.

These are not good for the game. Still a game between India and Pakistan is far more interesting than Mumbai vs Chennai clash. The real passion oozes while two national teams with their start studded players clash a battle on the cricket field.

No harm in earning money but yes there is harm in sidelining national team’s call for the sake of money. There is harm in digging cricket’s oldest tradition, Test cricket’s grave for the sake of money and entertainment.

Earn money as much as you can but not by ignoring the country.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Ireland vs Afghanistan - World T20 Qualifiers Final

Ireland would need one more victory to seal their dominance at the associate level. Granted Ireland didn't need to win, they were through. Also with this being their second game of the day. Questions would have been asked could they perform after such a demolition of Namibia. The answer was simply and utterly yes!

They had Afghanistan next, their rivals at the associate level. With Ireland losing the toss, Afghanistan decided to bat first. What a start for Afghanistan, when Karim Sadiq tonked Rankin for a 1st ball six over long-on. Then he dispatched TJ for consecutive boundaries, giving them a the advantage. Rankin would swing the pendulum back towards Ireland when Rankin has Sadiq bowled. The ball striking the helmet ferociously, then onto the stumps.

TJ was then struck for four by Ahmadi, then TJ got his man. Trying to upper cut TJ all the way over third-man but he doesn't get all of it. Where Rankin takes an easy catch to leave Afghanistan on 27/2. Shahzad would continue as Afghanistan do, by going for every shot. This time punishing Sorensen for six over midwicket.
Asraf would get a six from TJ behind square, however O'Brien spoiled the party. The batsman slicing the ball into the hands of a leaping Porterfield.

Ireland would continue to slow the run rate down. This time Mangal lofting it high to Sorensen at long-on, who takes a good diving catch. Although, Shahzad remained at the crease, despite his discomfort. Then Shenwari giving Stirling some treatment, as he lofted him over long-on for six.

Dockrell wouldn't fare too much better, when Shahzad came down the track to loft him for another six. Ireland would pull them back again, Sorensen having Shenwari caught at long-off. Perhaps any other fielder and it would have been six, this however was the very tall figure of Rankin.

Stirling then taking the wicket of Nabi, the big hitter couldn't flex his muscles today. In the 19th over, Ireland got the wicket they wanted, albeit a bit too late. Sorensen has Shahzad trying to pull, which resulted in a top-edge to long-off. Naib would add some vital late runs to Afghanistan's total, with two big six's from TJ.

Leaving Afghanistan on 152/7.

Ireland got off to the worst possible start, when Porterfield was bowled first ball. However a boundary to end the over from Joyce. Followed by three consecutive boundaries from Stirling, quickly brought Ireland back.

Joyce would provide the shot of the day with a glorious cover drive. However he would succumb to pressure from Alam, flicking a full ball all the way to deep square-leg.

Stirling was in no mood to stop with the fall of Joyce. He would smoke Dawlatzai for more boundaries, inclusive of a stupendous six over third man. While giving the same treatment to Alam. Picking the length ball early, and sending it deep over midwicket for six more.

Ireland had been brought back a touch by Afghanistan. With three overs passing without a boundary to their names. Then Nabi got punished, Stirling came down the track and lofted him over long-on for six.

He would eventually fall in the 13th over. A short ball outside off has Stirling pulling it, the fielder times the jump perfectly. With that Stirling 79(38) had to go, another scintillating performance by the young Irish batsman.

Ireland were then rocked when Kevin O'Brien would fall first ball. With Kevin trying to run it down to third man. Resulting in the outside edge to Shahzad, which he takes brilliantly.

Afghanistan were then starting to pile the pressure on. As Wilson and Poynter didn't look too comfortable at the crease. Then out of nowhere, Poynter lofted Zadran over extra-cover for four. Quite an audacious stroke, considering the circumstances.

Ireland looked to regain control, as Wilson runs it for four past third man. Then Poynter added further impetus. Hitting Dawlatzai for six straight down the ground, in a double handed forehand type of stroke.

Victory was in sight for Ireland with 3 needed from the last two overs. However Wilson would try to finish the game first ball. Although he would only find the hands of long-off. Poynter would manage to finish it off, a full ball on leg and he flicked it past midwicket for four.

MOTM - Paul Stirling for his 79(38)...

Ireland had got one over their rivals Afghanistan. With the victory they were now placed in Group B, alongside Australia and the West Indies.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Ireland's Road to Success at the T20 Qualifiers 2012

Ireland's road to T20 Glory.

Ireland opening their campaign with a banana skin fixture. Namibia would choose to bat vs a well fancied Irish side. However things didn't go exactly to plan for the Irish with Nambia posting 160/8. Ireland with their batting strength, would still fancy themselves to chase it down. However losing Stirling to a duck, after he was run out. While Joyce and Cusack used up vital deliveries before they to fell. They showed a good fightback when Gary Wilson and John Mooney got together. However it would prove to be too much as Ireland lost their first game by a measly 4 runs.

''van der Westhuizen Rocks Ireland to Early Setback''

Ireland had Kenya up next.

Despite their recent whitewash of Kenya in a T20 series in Kenya. Much would be expected of the Kenyans to compete with Ireland. Kenya like Namibia won the toss and decided to bat, they also caught Ireland in a dominant mood.
With some aggressive bowling and some extremely tidy spin bowling by Dockrell, Ireland had knocked Kenya over for 71. With all bowlers running through the helpless batting of Kenya. Ireland would hammer home the victory with a crushing 10 wicket victory. With Porterfield blasting his way into the record books with 50(23). That knock being the fastest half century in all forms of the game for Ireland

''Ireland Push Side Feeble Kenya''

Ireland then had the Italians up next. While they pulverised Kenya, this would almost prove to be a very costly game for Ireland. Italy had decided to bat first and things looked good for Ireland, when they had restricted Italy to 100/7. With a bizarre knock from their new boy Di Venuto 23(44).
Ireland looked in relative comfort at 60/2, then a collapse of epic proportions. Would leave Ireland with two wickets in hand going into the last over, while still needing 7 runs. However Wilson was able to dispatch Northcote for four of the 2nd ball, followed by a quickly run two, then another boundary to see Ireland home. Wilson would prove to be a shining light for Ireland throughout the tournament.

''Ireland Survive the Italian Job''

Ireland the Americans up next. Ireland deciding to bat first, while the decision looked a bad one at 32/3. With the bowling of Elmore Hutchinson proving to be difficult to get away. However two of Ireland's most experienced players got together and put on 86 for the 4th wicket. With Ed Joyce eventually falling on 46 and Kevin O'Brien 47. While Wilson once again performing another cameo with 19(10) and Mooney 12(7) to guide Ireland to a decent 160/6.

Ireland had cause to be worried, when Taylor tonked Johnston for two boundaries in the opening over. However a collapse was to happen, with the Americans unable to play the impressive Rankin. By the time Rankin finished his four overs, America had fallen to 52/7. With Rankin ending up the (MOTM) with figures of 4-1-9-4. America got to 96 all out, with Ireland winning by 64 runs.

''America Inept Against Rankin''

Ireland had their most tricky game next, vs a very determined and gritty Scottish side. Ireland got away to their usual losing a wicket in the 1st over. With Stirling getting caught at slip. Then Porterfield getting bowled in the 2nd over. Cusack would respond with four consecutive boundaries, to ease the pressure significantly. Then Joyce would hit an impressive six in the 5th, on his way to a (MOTM) performance. Wilson again performing for Ireland with a well played 26(26). However with Ireland on 142/5, a big final over was needed. Joyce delivered what he was asked to do, tonking Sharif for consecutive six's to bring Ireland to 159/5 and himself 78(58).

The chase for Scotland got away to a bad start, with Berrington being bowled by TJ. Scotland would then lose Mommsen to TJ as Ireland applied the pressure. The runs weren't coming easily until the 9th over, when Sorensen was smoked for consecutive six's. However Porterfield threw the ball to Kevin O'Brien. Despite him being dispatched for boundaries, he came back brilliantly to dismiss Watts. Then in his 3rd over he had Flannigan and Coetzer out, as Ireland won the game by 18 runs.

''Ireland Remain Cool in Victory Over the Scots''

Ireland were to face Uganda next. With Ireland being sent in to bat, it looked a very unwise move with Ireland posting 179/5. With most batsmen scoring heavy volumes of runs. While the bowling would prove to be as dominant. With Uganda showing no resistance to the Irish attack. Much of their scorecard resembled a telephone number, as they were all out for 97. The significant win of 82 runs, boosted Ireland's already impressive net run rate.

''Ireland Cruise to Victory''

Ireland had Oman next up, which Ireland were expected to defeat easily. Ireland decided to bat and with Gary Wilson's 52(38) and Kevin O'Briens 32(16), giving Ireland the boost to reach 160/5. Ireland had managed to dismiss most of their batsmen except one with ease. Jatinder Singh hung on for a gritty 56*(55), however Ireland strolled home in 2nd gear by 44 runs.

''Ireland Pound Further Misery Upon Oman''

Ireland were to face a tricky set of games because of their 1st game loss to Namibia. This time it was the Dutch, with Porterfield sending them in to bat. While Kervezee produced a fine 56(48) and Cooper 26(24). However 114/7 was the fruits of all their hard work, as Ireland controlled the innings. Porterfield got away with consecutive boundaries, before he would fall in the 5th over, with 17(18). Joyce would anchor the innings with Stirling and Wilson both falling in consecutive balls to Swart. If the Dutch felt they had a foot back in the game, Kevin O'Brien would dismiss all thoughts of a collapse. With his 30*(22) seeing Ireland comfortably home by 7 wickets.

''Ireland Show Who's Boss''

Next up was the Canadians.

Canada had decided to bat first, with TJ removing Patel inside the first over. Then Gunasekera would send Rankin to the ropes twice. While Kumar would dish out the same treatment to Sorensen, before he would fall to TJ in the 7th. Hansra would follow him the next over, when Dockrell had him bowled.

Wickets were falling quick, this time Dockrell got Gunasekera out. He tried to sweep and got a top edge, which was brilliantly taken by Stirling. Then Cheema and Baidwan would also depart, with virtually no damage done to the bowlers figures. Bhatti would hit Sorensen for a boundary, however he to would fall the very next ball. A brief cameo by Gordon added some runs, although it wasn't going to be enough. As Canada posted a dismal 106/8.

Ireland start with 15 from the 1st over, as Stirling sent Osinde around the park. Then he could continue his onslaught against Osinde in the 3rd. With two more fours and a glorious six over deep midwicket.
Porterfield wouldn't be held back either, hitting Cheema for four boundaries in the 5th over. Ireland were cruising to another victory. Stirling hit Siddiqui for four over extra-cover to bring his half-century up. As the young Irish batsman breaks the fastest Irish fifty again.

Stirling would finish the game for Ireland inside the 10th over. When he chipped Hussain for four over midwicket, as Ireland gained another impressive victory.

''The Irish March to Another Simple Victory''

''Ireland Find their Dutch Courage''

Ireland had a chance to get revenge against Namibia next. It would prove to a demolition job, as Namibia decided to bat first. With the runs not coming freely the pressure was on, TJ getting the tournament flyer of van Schoor out for 1(5). While van der Westhuizen crashed TJ for six over extra cover, he would respond by getting him out next ball. Trying to pull the shot, he just pulled it feebly to midwicket. Then Porterfield took the catch of the tournament when Williams was next to fall. Despite some late hitting from Opperman 26*(15), Namiba could only post an awful 94/6.

Ireland responded in style, with Porterfield sending consecutive opening balls to the ropes for four. He would continue on his way, before falling in the 5th over to Klazinga. Stirling wouldn't stop with the fall of Portefield, as he sent Klazinga for consecutive boundaries. Then Joyce showing his top class with a glorious cover drive. Stirling would bring his half century up from only 26 balls. Then Stirling would end the match in style when he reverse swept Opperman for four, between backward point and short third man.

Sealing Ireland's place in the 2012 T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka.

''Ireland take Revenge on Poor Shell Shocked Namibia''

Thursday, 29 March 2012

My Greatest ODI XI 1990-2012 (7-11)

Wasim Akram(Pakistan)

Wasim Akram, regarded as one of the finest left-arm fast bowlers of all time. He did things with the ball that some could only dream of. He could move the ball both ways, sometimes in the one delivery. While doing all of this, he came in at a high speed. He also had more than one string to his bow, with an ability to bat aswell. He has 502 ODI wickets to his name at an average of 23.52. While also accumulating 3717 runs throughout his ODI career. With the bulk of his runs coming in at 7, with 1222 runs being scored there. Inclusive of his top score of 86 vs Australia in the Benson & Hedges World Series - 1st final. Though he reached the 500-wickets lamndmark in ODI's during the 2003 World Cup. He was still among the eight players to be dumped from the squad after their disastrous performance. He was to retire shortly after, despite a brief spell with English side Hampshire.

Lance Klusener(South Africa)

Following his star performance in the 1999 World Cup he topped the ICC ODI Batting rankings. His high strike rate and career ODI average of 41.10 had him placed among the names in South Africa's most accomplished one-day batsmen. Along with 3576 runs while also picking up 192 wickets at an average of 29.95. He did the bulk of the damage with his bat at 8, with 1056 runs coming. While also keeping an average of 58.66. Making him one very special number 8.

Shane Warne(Australia)

Despite the headlines he made on the field, he was equally capable of making them off the field. Despite some mistakes off the field, while he was on it. He was regarded as the greatest spinner of all time. In the Test stakes he only finished behind Muralitharan. He rejuvinated legspin, making it fasionable to perform again. He picked up 293 wickets at an average of 25.73. While also having scored 1018 runs in the ODI format and a top score of 55. His priority was bowling. He remains a man with a colourful character, perhaps that's why he's adored so much around the world.

Allan Donald(South Africa)

One of the greats in South African bowling history. With 272 ODI wickets at an average of 21.78. A lot of the success that South Africa has gained in the modern era can be credited to the work of Allan Donald. Possibly being the only world-class performer in the South African team at that time. With his top-drawer pace and his ability to make things happen. As his body began to take more of a pounding through wear and tear. He retired from ODI cricket after South Africa's exit from the 2003 World Cup.

Glenn McGrath(Australia)

Glenn McGrath regarded as one of the best bowlers of all time. Arguably the greatest in Australia's history. His unremitting off-stump line with an immaculate length had batsmen throughout the world in dire straits. He specialised in gaining the opposition's biggest wickets, especially Michael Atherton and Brian Lara's. Picking up 381 ODI wickets at an average of 22.02, including seven 5-wicket hauls. He currently holds the record for the most wickets taken in the World Cup with 71. With 26 of those wickets falling in the 2007 World Cup. Helped by an impressive 7-15 against the outclassed Namibians.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

My Greatest ODI XI 1990-2012 (1-6)

My greatest all time ODI XI, first we start with the openers. With the field up in the opening overs of a ODI game, it's important to take advantage of this. These next two players to me, are two of the best players at taking advantage of this. With aggression and high skilled strokeplay.

Sachin Tendulkar(India)

What can one say about Sachin Tendulkar. The man has done it all, he was the first batsman to score a double ODI century. When in a ODI vs South Africa on the 24th of February 2010 he scored 200*. He has scored a staggering 18,374 runs in ODI cricket at an average of 44.81 with 49 centuries. He was also the first batsman to score 10,000 ODI runs. While also being the first man to reach each subsequent 1000 run mark that has been crossed in ODI cricket history. The goal of the man they call the little master was to win the World Cup. Something which he was finally able to do so in the 2011 Cricket World Cup. There has been much talk about how long he will continue for. Although based on recent performances, I don't see this legend of cricket retiring anytime soon.

Adam Gilchrist(Australia)(wk)

Adam Gilchrist is the great wicket-keeper batsmen in the history of the game. His strike rate is amongst the highest in the history of One-day and Test cricket. With 9,619 runs at an average of 35.89 and 16 centuries. He has the unique record for scoring at least 50 runs in successive World Cup finals (1999, 2003 and 2007). While being one of only three players to have won three titles. He is known to have completely re-written the role of the wicket-keeper batsman in cricket. His discipline at the crease is one that many players could learn from. With his decision to walk at times from the crease, even with the umpire ruling in his favour.

Ricky Ponting(Australia)

Ricky Ponting is one of the greatest batsmen of all time, a must have selection in any Australian side. With his 13,704 ODI runs at an average of 42.03, with 30 centuries. He has been part of what's been so good for Australia for many years. To me, he is what a batsman should be, a tough character, a competitor and gritty. Too many of modern day players don't like it when its hard work out there.

He's been recently dropped from the ODI side, while he continues to ply his trade in the Test arena. We all should make sure to watch him for as long as we can. As when he finally retires we will all surely miss the great batsman that is Ricky Ponting.

Brian Lara(West Indies)

Brian Lara generally regarded as one of the greatest batsmen of all time. Muttiah Muralitharan has rated him the toughest opponent among all batsmen in the world. He's also a member of the 10,000 ODI run club, with an average of 40.48 and 19 centuries. Nobody since Bradman has built massive scores as often and as fast as Lara in his heyday. With his aggressiveness and pomp and ability to dismantle any bowling attack.

Jacques Kallis(South Africa)

Kallis regarded as arguably the greatest all-rounder of all time. He has amassed 11,498 runs at an average of 45.26. While also picking up 270 wickets at an average of 31.69. His dominance at the crease has been evident for many years. He's a colossus of a man, not many wickets come harder than his. His rock-solid technique and a mind unwavering to any distraction. He's a near perfect cricketer. Showing there is still room for finesse.

Michael Bevan(Australia)

Michael Bevan known as the finisher for Australia, played 232 ODI's for Australia. While picking up 6,912 runs at a lovely average of 53.58. While also holding the batting record for highest average among retired players. Criritcs have claimed his high average was an inflated average due to a high level of not outs(67 in 232 ODI's), considering he batted in the lower-middle order. Although his best batting was at number 4.
When in the uncommon situation where the Australian top order might collapse. He would be the calmness of the side, whilst performing a perfect anchoring role. Guiding his side home on many occasions which gave him his nickname ''The Finisher''.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Tim Murtagh

The merry-go-round for players leaving Ireland to play for England will continue for many years. So what can Ireland do to prevent the exodus of players from worsening the team. With Test cricket not around the corner anytime soon, they must think of new ways to add to the side.

One of the ways is using players born outside Ireland, with Irish relations as a path to qualify for Ireland.

I've heard people say that Ireland are just as bad when they take these players in. As this is exactly what England are doing.

Although there is a distinct difference with these situations. The likes of Trent Johnston, Andre Botha, Tim Murtagh etc, were never likely to play for their countries of birth. Then Eoin Morgan & Ed Joyce were always wanted for their countries of birth.

If a player is willing to come to an associate side. Do the hard work put the training in and stick with the side through all the situations. Not just there for the marquee games and have the right temperament. Then why not welcome him in with open arms. Although there is a line to be drawn somewhere in this situation, we can't have associates playing 11 Australians in their side.

So we come to Ireland's newest recruit in Tim Murtagh the Middlesex fast bowler.

He is a left-handed batsman and a right-arm fast-medium bowler. He has represented England during the 2000 ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup.

His first talent is bowling however he has improved significantly with the bat over years.

Injury among the Surrey bowling attack in 2005 had led to more opportunities for him. Including a very impressive 6/24 against Middlesex in the 2005 T20 Cup.

After a struggle to find a regular spot with Surrey, he began a search for a new club after the 2006 season. He was to sign for Middlesex in December 2006.

Where he was to quickly find his feet with scoring 874 runs at an average of 32.37. Whilst also taking 68 wickets at an average of 37.72 in first-class fixtures.

Since the move to Middlesex his bowling average was to improve vastly. With his wickets costing nearly 12 runs fewer than his wickets for Surrey. While his bowling average in List A games is nine runs less than it was for Surrey.

After a conversation with Ed Joyce of Ireland in 2011 led Murtagh to seriously consider qualifying for Ireland. He was entitled to apply for an Irish passport through his grandfather, who was born in Dublin.

He didn't dawdle with his application and was granted Irish citizenship in January 2012. He was first called into the Irish team as a reserve player. If any of the first 14 squad were to get injured he would be likely to be called into the squad as a replacement.

So in the upcoming 2012 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers in the UAE, we could get our first viewing of Murtagh in an Irish jersey. With 16 teams vying for the two measly spot available for the associate sides.

Hopefully if he was to get his chance in these qualifiers, he could show the Irish fans why he was selected for Ireland. Especially if he were able to replicate his 6/24 for Ireland, it would cause a lot of people to be very happy.

While Tim Murtagh is still quite young for cricket, he appears to be a big coup for Ireland. His long experience of English County cricket will hopefully help him hit the ground running. Also with his ability to bat lower down in the order will also strengthen the Irish side hugely.

He's also well known with many of the Irish squad. He's played with Ed Joyce in the past. While he currently plays with Paul Stirling, Andrew/Stewart Poynter, Andrew Balbirnie, so it shouldn't be difficult to incorperate himself into the side

With Ireland losing Eoin Morgan and possibly other players over the coming years. Tim Murtagh will be a vital signing for Ireland. As they look to continue their utter dominance at the associate level.