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