The English can take a lot from the Irish, and that includes luck, blarney, leprechauns and the odd setback at rugby. But it stops a long way short of being outclassed at cricket.
England will accept a drubbing from Australia, a close-run series against Pakistan at a pinch, but from Ireland...? Surely there must have been some cheating going on. Alas, no. Having tied with India in what was lauded as one of the best one-day cricket matches ever, England were defeated fair and square by a dazzling display that included the fastest century in Cricket World Cup history – struck by an Irishman.
How quickly the tables have been turned. For a year or more England has looked across, with not a little schadenfreude, to an emerald isle whose economy was even more shattered by the financial crisis than its own. There was much sermonising from this side of the Irish Sea about improvidence and debt, about unwarranted boom and humiliating bust. English heads were shaken wisely, as the Dublin government collapsed and Fianna Fail reaped its bitter electoral harvest. Now, Irish eyes are all smiles and England should gird themselves for the addition of a new Test series to the calendar – the trophy to contain the ashes of the bails from Bangalore.