Tuesday 26 September 2017

Ireland working towards targets

Niall O'Brien, whose 79no ensured a famous four-wicket win over West Indies, has since been fighting the Irish cause off the pitch via Twitter
Niall O'Brien, whose 79no ensured a famous four-wicket win over West Indies, has since been fighting the Irish cause off the pitch via Twitter

Ireland continue to press their claims on the world stage, off the field as well as on it.

When the men in green resume their World Cup campaign against United Arab Emirates in Brisbane on Wednesday, it will be nine days since they signalled intent and demonstrated capability with an opening win over West Indies.

That victory, a shock to many but not to the Irish as captain William Porterfield and several other senior players were at pains to point out afterwards, is a consolidation of similar success at previous World Cups.

Ireland's short-term ambition is to reach the knockout stages Down Under, and victory over fellow qualifiers UAE is a must to that end.

But the bigger picture is to shake up world cricket sufficiently to earn a seat at the top table - both in the next World Cup in England and, Ireland hope, as a future Test-playing nation.

Niall O'Brien, whose unbeaten 79 ensured a famous four-wicket win over the Windies in Nelson, has since been fighting the Irish cause off the pitch via Twitter.

He has welcomed some high-profile help too, from two greats of the game - Sachin Tendulkar, and Mahela Jayawardene.

India's master batsman spoke out in support of increased opportunities for associate nations, and then Jayawardene - after his match-winning hundred against Afghanistan on Sunday - made it clear he does not agree with International Cricket Council plans to streamline future World Cups and therefore make qualification so much harder for teams like Ireland.

O'Brien tweeted: "Great to see @sachin_rt getting behind Ireland etc to gain more exposure and more cricket. couldn't have wished for a better supporter for us."

Jaywardene made the point that his country, World Cup winners in 1996 and runners-up in the last two editions, might never have had those opportunities without a leg-up from global administrators.

Jayawardene's remarks were retweeted by O'Brien.

He had told a post-match press conference: "When I was asked that question a couple of years ago I said no to that, because I think Sri Lanka got that same opportunity in 1975 as an associate member.

"If we hadn't had that opportunity, we probably wouldn't have been here - so I think it's important that we nurture and we look after these associate members.

"They are playing some good cricket - give them the opportunity they deserve."

Ireland must help themselves by staying on course for the knockout stages against a UAE team who lost their opening match to Zimbabwe last week.

Press Association

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport