Ireland win the world's hearts but still not the ICC's minds

The Irish marked their great World Cup victory against the English yesterday. If they were not exactly dancing in O'Connell Street, the match in which they chased down a record 329 to win was prominently featured on media outlets all day.

So low key is cricket in the country, however, that a 10-minute slot to celebrate the occasion on Radio Dublin began with an explanation of the fact that it consisted of two teams of 11 players, with two men batting at one time.

Clearly, there is some way to go for the sport to take a grip. But after the inconceivable events in Bangalore, when Kevin O'Brien hit a hundred from 50 balls, they may win their countrymen over more quickly than the International Cricket Council.

If Ireland go on to win the 10th World Cup they may not be entitled to defend their title in the 11th. In its infinite wisdom, the ICC has decreed that only 10 teams will take part in the tournament to be played in Australia in 2015.

On the one hand, this panders to the majority view that World Cups have become too long, too unwieldy and too downright tedious. On the other, it was a decision taken before Ireland knocked out England's lights on Wednesday on one of sport's more historic occasions, in Bangalore or anywhere else.

So 10 teams it is, and as it happens there are 10 full members of the ICC. It is not too difficult to see how that might work out considering the self-interest, not to mention self-aggrandisement with which cricket has traditionally been governed. They will presumably produce as evidence the form of the other lesser nations so far in this tournament, as if they can improve without better competition.

Of course, Ireland will not win this event in India, though the odds of their doing so have been cut to 150 to one. There are simply too many obstacles on the way to Mumbai on 2 April – the first of which is India on Sunday – and O'Brien, the unlikely hero of a country, will never play another innings as he did under the lights of the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.

O'Brien made 113 in all from 63 balls with six sixes to propel his team to an inconceivable victory in Group B after being 111 for 5. His name swept across Ireland yesterday and it may have swept as far as the lucrative Indian Premier League.

Although this year's auction is officially over, the fastest century in World Cup history, a man who hits the ball so hard with such delightful freedom, not to mention his pink and blond rinse, would be obvious attractions in an event that is pure showbiz. (The hair-do is to raise cancer awareness in Ireland and millions more will have seen it than might have done otherwise.)





O'Brien has previously flirted with professional cricket but was released by Nottinghamshire in 2009 after 15 matches in which his top score was 42. Kevin comes from Ireland's nearest thing to a cricketing dynasty.

His father Brendan represented Ireland in first-class matches and his elder brother Niall has (until now anyway) been the more successful cricketer, having played for Kent and, since 2006, Northamptonshire. Three other brothers have played cricket for the family's Dublin club, Railway Union, and sister Ciara both played and scored internationally, as well as winning 156 hockey caps.

For Kevin, 27 today, life truly may have changed forever. He clearly relishes the enriching prospect of the IPL. "Who wouldn't?" he said. "A lot of people have said that Twenty20 suits me, the way I swing the bat and hit a few sixes. If something comes of that, even better. If not, just concentrate on Sunday's game and see what happens."

On Sunday, the world will presumably return to normal. Such was the grandeur of Wednesday's win, however, that it may be practically impossible to deny the likes of Ireland their opportunity in future.

It will certainly have increased the mood of meritocracy among the ICC hierarchy who recognise that to continue to prosper it needs not more countries playing the game (it has 105 playing members) but more playing it well.

Whether it will affect India's stance is another matter. India, making up for being the poor relation for more than 100 years while England and Australia carved up the game more or less as they wished, now do more or less as they please. The crassest example of this is their refusal to use the umpire decision review system in Test matches, although it is official ICC policy.

They refuse because they can, and if they decide to refuse support for a meritocratic World Cup then it might not happen. But even they may struggle to overturn the commercial agreement for a qualifying competition.

It exercised Ireland's captain William Porterfield in the immediate aftermath of victory on Wednesday. "It's out of our hands but the ICC have a development programme. It isn't a tournament if the World Cup doesn't have associate teams." Nor is it.

News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own