Many years ago on a beautiful summer’s day in County Tyrone, Ireland’s amateur cricketers caused a sensation when they dismissed the West Indies for 25 in the lovely surroundings of Sion Mills. Some said it was thanks to the copious amounts of Guinness that had been available for the visitors the night before! That happened in July 1969 and I remember what a surprise result it was.
Fast forward nearly 46 years and Ireland have done it again, this time in the World Cup at the Saxton Oval in Nelson, New Zealand. A great result over the twice World Champions, by four wickets and with 25 balls to spare. Great to watch (on UTV highlights) those fours and sixes being added to the scoreboard by the Irish batsmen.
The other teams in Ireland’s group are holders India, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Pakistan – who Ireland shocked in 2007 – and their next opponents, United Arab Emirates. The top four will reach the quarter-finals.
“On this performance, they can certainly look to get out of the group,” said former England spinner Graeme Swann. “They will still be underdogs when they play bigger teams but they have destroyed West Indies and every other so-called big team in the group will have watched this and will be very nervous about them now”, he told the BBC.
Ireland captain Will Porterfield said the team were aiming for the knockout stages after their latest victory over a Test-playing nation. “It’s fantastic to win. This sets us up nicely for the next few games,” he said. “The belief has been growing within the squad for a long time and we know what we are capable of, not just in this game but the other games in the competition as well.”