OK we missed out on the quarterfinals, but let’s be honest only the most diehard Ireland supporter would have fancied our chances against the mighty Australians.
Saturday dawned with great expectations in both rugby and cricket, but it was not to be “Ireland’s call” and the unsatisfactory way our rugby fortunes sagged in Cardiff was probably an omen that it was not to be Ireland’s day. Unfortunately we didn’t score enough runs and even if we had it is doubtful if our bowlers could have contained the rejuvenated Pakistan batsmen. This tournament is so heavily weighted in favour of the batsmen moderate bowling attacks have no chance on the flat featureless tracks best suited for high quality pace bowlers. It says much for Ireland that they manufactured three wins from six starts and that’s the benchmark on which our tournament should be judged. Sometimes it has to be laboured, but this is the World Cup and Ireland are competing at the highest level so the players deserve the highest praise for taking our cricket to this level. It is sometimes forgotten where Irish cricket was a couple of decades ago and the quality of the fixture list compared to the world stage on which we compete these days. And the one word that epitomizes the transformation and the level of achievement involved is ‘compete.’
Once the dust has settled and reality kicks in there will surely be changes. Some of our best players have reached the veteran stage and may be eased out for younger blood and our long-serving and most celebrated Manager Roy Torrens will retire. No, he’s not interested in the Manchester City job either, he just wants a bit of normality back into his life and what a great ambassador he has been for Irish cricket as a player, selector, administrator and more recently Manager. His big shoes will certainly be hard to fill.
Throughout the World Cup there was no shortage of website experts giving National Coach Phil Simmons their opinions on team selection. Even before the squad left the critics backed their favourites in forum broadsides, but at the end of the day three wins and two of them against test countries speaks volumes for team selection. Nobody will ever know what any other permutation would have produced, but victory over cricket giants like India, South Africa and Pakistan was hardly going to be achieved by the inclusion of an untried fringe bowler! Some website pundits need to get real.
The Associate countries did well and the big talking point coming out of this tournament from their perspective remains the ICC’s determination to limit their participation in the next World Cup. The governing body has received plenty of criticism for their tunnel vision and some of the sport’s leading personalities have spoken out strongly so it remains to be seen if there will be any change in thinking.
Ireland Captain William Porterfield may be a little dry in his pre and post-match interviews, but his comments on this issue exude a passion and a deep feeling of injustice that reverberates throughout Irish cricket and right across the Associate countries. If the World Cup is to be a genuine global tournament it should not be restricted to an elite “Member’s Club” and if we are to promote the game at Associate membership level then there should be a fixture program that guarantees the top performers matches between World Cups.
The Associate Countries need to canvass each of the decision-makers to put their case to them individually. Money is at the root of ICC nepotism, but sometimes the issues are above money.