Cricket: England try to gag Irish fury over exclusion
Not content with voting to bar Ireland from the 2015 World Cup, the England cricket authorities yesterday attempted to gag Irish players from talking about their shameful decision.
In the wake of Monday's vote by full members of the International Cricket Council (ICC) - including England - to restrict the next World Cup to the 10 Test-playing countries, several Ireland squad members reacted angrily.
William Porterfield, Niall O'Brien and Boyd Rankin all voiced their disappointment, while Gary Wilson tweeted: "That was a sh*t decision -- not a World Cup now, just a trophy with 10 teams."
Free speech is not something the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) encourages and Ireland's county-contracted players were all warned by email yesterday against making any further comments.
The employers' organisation of county cricket has the power to fine or even ban players for inappropriate behaviour and Alan Fordham, the ECB's head of cricket operations, has not ruled out taking action over comments already made.
In the meantime, the ECB wished to inform the players "to be very careful about what they are putting in the public domain".
The fury among cricket's smaller nations at being denied even the chance to qualify for the 2015 showpiece in Australia and New Zealand shows no sign of dying down and Ireland coach Phil Simmons yesterday added his voice to the outrage.
"Monday was a dark day for cricket but a great day for greed and fear!" Simmons said.
"It is hard to find words to describe this despicable decision, made by some who want to keep things among themselves and some who fear us.
"There can be no cricketing reasons for this decision as we answered the cricket question, the TV-rating question and we are 10th in the world -- so what else is needed?
"I'm afraid the next World Cup will be like the American World Series where you are crowned world champions but the world did not take part. Congratulations India on winning the last real World Cup and congratulations ICC for pulling the game we love back 10 years!"
Cricket Ireland have vowed to fight the decision and could have a legal case against the ICC on competition grounds because it is hard to see how a 10-team tournament could exclude Ireland -- a team ranked 10th in the world by the ICC itself -- in favour of 11th-placed Zimbabwe.