On the Front Foot: Ireland return home as heroes but no tougher tests await them
Sunday 20 March 2011
Ireland left the World Cup with the gratitude and relief of the organisers ringing in their ears.
They did well enough to show that cricket nations outside the traditional cadre can advance, but not quite well enough to embarrass the carefully arranged structure and qualify for the quarter-finals.
The tournament had been formulated in such a way (not rigged, of course, because that would involve the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit, and they are quite busy enough) to give the established nations every chance of progressing. It was always possible that Ireland would have one shock win but unlikely that they would assemble a sequence of victories to put them in the last eight.
So it proved. They beat England but could not quite manage to defeat any other team except Holland. Yet there remains, in cricket as in life for much of the past 350 years, the Irish Question.
Since the historic win against England, there has been some talk that Ireland should eventually be accorded Test status. This, unfortunately, is poppycock.
Ireland will not play Test cricket in the foreseeable future and probably never. The way in which the game has been nurtured there has been admirable but there is no first-class system nor a conceivable way of starting one. Without that, Test cricket remains impossible. The ICC are pondering an application from Ireland for enhanced membership. This will fall short of allowing them to play Tests but give them compulsory rights to play a higher standard of limited-overs cricket.
The sadness is that Ireland (and other countries) will continue to lose their most talented cricketers to Test-playing nations, almost certainly England.
One slip at High Commission
England's policy of treating their team for any forthcoming match as though they were protecting the secrets of the nuclear code is coming apart at the seams.
There are the customary ways of information leaking, such as via an agent or a tweet. But at a High Commission bash in Chennai, the coach, Andy Flower, let slip to a couple of reporters that Chris Tremlett was likely to play against West Indies in Jimmy Anderson's place.
The next day, the captain, Andrew Strauss, reverting to the secrecy policy, said that Anderson was still in the mix. Anderson, of course, was dropped.
Trott comes to the party
Only one England player bothered to turn up at that High Commission bash (and a jolly good do it was, with a choice of three great traditional British dishes for supper: bangers and mash, fish and chips and chicken tikka masala).
That was the man who has been carrying the batting these past few weeks, Jonathan Trott. Increasingly becoming an integral and comfortable part of the England team, Trott demonstrated an inquisitiveness and old-fashioned courtesy in accepting such invitations that eluded the rest of his colleagues.
Ganguly ahead in style stakes
Michael Vaughan breezed into town this week for a stint of commentary until the end of the World Cup.
He is but one of the breed to have a hair replacement. Soon it will be de rigueur. At least with the former England captain it is difficult to see the join.
Sourav Ganguly, India's magisterial former captain, now has a style so luxuriant that it looks as if he is wearing a bear skin on his head.
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