How strong do Ireland Cricket Team: Not finishing at the bottom of the table is not what a team wants. That’s even truer for any ICC tournament. And while Ireland didn’t exactly finish at the lowest ebb of the ICC 2021 T20 World Cup, they didn’t’ really have a series to savour.
After making lightwork of The Netherlands in their first Group A match last year, which they comfortably won by 7 wickets, Ireland lost both the games that followed.
To their utter surprise- for there’s no plausible way of putting it- Ireland first lost the contest to Sri Lanka by 70 runs, whereby the margin of defeat was enormous in T20I lingo, they also went down the drain against Namibia.
The latter may certainly have been the defeat that none saw coming or, at least, few would’ve anticipated. While Paul Stirling and Kevin O’Brien accounted for 63 of the team’s 125 runs, the quartet of Delany, Tector, Campher and Rock accumulated only 26 runs amongst themselves.
Would Andy Balbernie’s heart have sunk seeing such awful performances with the bat; the bowling, it could be said, left little to the imagination.
There wasn’t much that the side could do in terms of restricting Green, Erasmus and Wiese, the heart of Namibian bat-swinging; the trio scored 105 of the 126 run ask on its own.
Resultantly, Ireland, despite having the talent and the flair of Stirling, O’Brien, Balbernie, Tector, Campher, Adair, and Simi Singh, Ireland plunged to its lowest depth in the tournament and crashed out.
That was even before the big sides or the main ones, as some would call them, could get to the business end of the tournament.
But, anyway that was then, what about this time around?
Amongst the key encounters of the 2022 T20 world cup, if it must be said, begins shortly.
Surely, the die-hard Pakistan and India fans may not hold it much but the imminent encounter between Ireland and Zimbabwe is going to be a closely fought one.
That’s not only because two of the noted ICC members are up against each other in the mother of T20I battles; but also because both teams are somewhat evenly-matched where it comes to strength and weaknesses.
Both teams have courageous but awfully underrated captains in Craig Ervine and Andy Balbernie.
And while even before a ball has been bowled in the soon-to-begin contest at Tasmania, it can be said that, Zimbabwe would be wary of a side that has in it to become the Tasmanian devil and forge a lengthy attack.
While surely, it wasn’t in the shortest format of the game, which over the years has also become its most watched, the West Indies got a bit of the sting in the ODI’s that followed earlier this year.
Not once prior to the January 2022 series had Ireland won a solitary bi-lateral series in the Caribbean but all of that whimsical and not-so-ideal record changed for good on the 16th of January.
After smashing the Pollard-led Windies side by 5 wickets, which isn’t a small margin, Ireand reached home by a dainty margin of 2 wickets in a series decider at Kingston that both kings and paupers of the game would’ve loved.
First, the Windies were restricted to just an ordinary and not-so-scary 212, in which Shai Hope scored a classy 53. And not long after Ireland, buoyed by Andy Balbernie’s 4-for were helped by fine knocks by Tector and Stirling.
While Balbernie missed out the historic moment that stand-in captain Stirling achieved, it could be said, the whole of the country united in appreciating the cricket side admonish what until such time had remained an Irish curse (of not winning a series against the West Indies in ODI’s).
Later this year, Ireland proved their mettle against India when the latter came calling in the land of iconic hills, beer, Liam Neeson and the IRA.
Though the hosts lost both contests, that they came as far as chasing down India’s massive 226 run ask in finishing on 221 was a show of true grit. Balberine, back as leader (60 off 37), the ever-promising Tector and lower order hitting by Adair and Dockrell were fascinating exhibitions of power hitting.
It’s just the thing that Ireland will need should they wish to upstage Zimbabwe, beginning tomorrow and the Scotts, a familiar opponent on October 19.
Next up, they’ll be up against the West Indies, their next target on October 21, which isn’t that far away. It’ll likely be a contest in which Ireland shall meet an unpredictable if not necessarily the mightiest side, which could be a mirror reflection of their own essence somewhat.
Yes, they may have lost Kevin O’Brien, who, it still seems strange, is a ‘former’ cricketer. Yes, they do miss the services of Willliam Porterfield, arguably their best opening bat in the white-ball cricket.
Surely, the trio of Curtis Campher, Harry Tector and George Dockrell are promising but not the most experienced campaigners.
But Ireland can bite and sting, as they have on many an occasion in the past, one of which was the smashing 2011 World Cup performance against the English.
How strong do Ireland Cricket? That was then. Eleven years hence, they still have able leaders like Andy Balbernie, the golden arm of McBrine and the undeniable talent of Simi Singh, who like Gareth Delany, can do both when needed; take wickets and put a tight lid on free run scoring.
And that, in itself, is a “Stirling” show of power- is it not, Mr. Paul?
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