Draw the curtain, the show is over, Ireland’s journey through the 2011 Cricket World Cup, has ended in the way it began, with some entertainment. Kevin O’Brien sent two balls into the crowd to record Ireland’s second victory of the world cup, against fellow associate Netherlands but that is only the finish of the rollercoaster, Irish fans have endured.
Ireland might have only won two matches, against Netherlands and England but unlike the associates in Group A, they fought until the end. Their first match, a game against Bangladesh in their own backyard, restricting them to 205, thanks to the spin duo of Andre Botha and one of the revelations of the World Cup thus far George Dockrell. He finished with 2/23 off 10, amazing.
Sadly, Ireland had navigated the chase so well, getting it down to needing 50 off about 90 balls but Bangladesh spun their way to victory. This loss would serve to make the Irish lads underdogs when going into a contest against a team, they had no right to beat England but we all know the story from here but a quick re-cap.
On a flat wicket, England flexed their muscles, with contributions from most of their top four, Trott to no one’s surprise, top scored for them with 92. After 50 overs, they ended with an impressive total of 327, which was not just a tall order but it was like climbing everest with only a backpack.
They were looking the part, when Porterfield was bowled off the first delivery of the match but they slowly rebuilt but losing wickets when it wasn’t needed, putting them in a perilous position of being 5 for 111 after Gary was trapped lbw to Swann. Enter the pink haired menance known as Kevin O’Brien, who signalled his intentions smashing and bashing the English bowling onto the fastest century in World Cup history, off 50 balls and importantly steering Ireland to an unlikely victory.
O’Brien didn’t finish the job though, he was run-out on 317 trying for a non-existant second run. 10 runs needed and the final bow went to John Mooney who slammed a ball to the boundary and started the massive party for Ireland, the associates had proven their worth and threw one back in the face of the ICC wanting to decrease the tournament to ten teams in 2015.
Ireland had their day in the sun, everyone gushed over the victory, sparked the debates of the associates but not Ireland, they celebrated, downed some Guiness but it was back to work, they had the chance to upset the status quo further and qualify for the quarter finals.
Next up, was the team with a billion people behind them, India who were coming off the immense tie against England. India wanted to test out their bowling, sending Ireland in to face the music. It wasn’t the best start for Ireland, much like against England, they lost Stirling and Joyce in the first few overs before Porterfield and Niall O’Brien rebuilt the innings with a hundred plus partnership.
After that partnership, there wasn’t much left with the middle to lower order scrambling around enough to get to 205, on not exactly a flat pitch but quick wickets were needed. Trent Johnson answered the call, dismissing the dangerous Sehwag after his customary four off the first ball, with a caught and ball leading into the chicken dance, he would dismiss Gambier but India would cruise to victory, with Dockrell adding to the list of young players dismissing Tendulkar the other sole bright spot.
The challenges didn’t get any easier for Ireland, they had back to back matches against the West Indies and South Africa who both batted first and posted about par totals of 275 and 272 respectively, which after Ireland chased 327 against England, looked like something the Irish lads could chase but alas it wasn’t to be, Ireland fell 44 runs short against West Indies with Ed Joyce making his first meaningful score in the tournament with 84.
Their resilience wasn’t as solid against South Africa, being blown away by the pace of Morkel before Robin Peterson, finished it off to make Ireland to slump to 141 and ending their albeit slim chance of qualfication for the quarters and leaving them to play for pride against fellow associate Netherlands in their final group game.
While in the grand scheme of things, Ireland v Netherlands wasn’t too important but it was important for both nations, to sign off the world cup in style and they didn’t disappoint. Firstly Netherlands one man wrecking crew, Ryan Ten Doeschate made his second century in the World Cup, lifting them to a imposing total of 306 for the spirited Irish to finish the World Cup with a win.
The intent of the Irish was signalled early, with Paul Stirling who went on a rampage smashing the ball to all parts, getting to his fifty off half the balls and continuing on the warpath to his century of seventy-two balls. William Porterfield proved an able partner, with Ireland getting to 177 before losing the wicket of the swashbuckling Sterling.
Input from the rest of the Irish batsmen took them past the total without much hassle and Kevin O’Brien like I stated in the opening, signed off in the World Cup with two sixes in the last over to give Ireland the victory, much like the effort against England.
While Ireland, didn’t get very far in the tournament, besides England, they were the entertainers of the World Cup, bringing interest to all their matches especially after their defeat of the evil empire known as England. They also proved there is a place for the associate nation in international cricket and it would be a crime if they were excluded from the next World Cup, the positive performances outweighed the negatives and unveiled Kevin O’Brien, Paul Stirling and George Dockrell to the world before England steal them.