Ireland beat Bangladesh to progress through to the Super 8 round of the T20 World Cup, and send their Test playing opponents home. This is the second time Ireland have beaten Bangladesh, having also beaten them in the ICC World Cup in 2007, where they also beat Pakistan and tied with Zimbabwe. The plucky Irish, still an associate member of the ICC are punching above their weight on the big stage and are fast become everyones second team.
While Holland beat England in the opening match and Scotland gave New Zealand a bit of a scare on Saturday, before being crushed by South Africa, it’s Ireland who look the best of the so called minnows. The team is well made up, and well coached by West Indian Phil Simmons. They show enthusiasm in the field, and go about their batting and bowling as best as they can. Where they have out performed their other smaller teams, and backed up their surprise results in the 2007 World Cup, has been their approach to their cricket. They play as a team. While the Scots tend to have a couple of good performers per match, not backed up by the full 11, the Irish have all pitched in.
The O’Brian brothers stole the show with their batting today, Niall, who was also excellent behind the stumps, took the Bangladesh attack on, scoring a boundary laden 40 from 25 balls, including three 6’s, and brother Kevin came in and finished the match for the Irish with an unbeaten 39 from 17 balls, taking his team home, and through to the next round.
While the minnows in these tournaments tend to look like amateur cricketers, enjoying the chance to play on the big stage against many of their heroes, and enjoying the holiday from work, the Irish look like real cricketers. They came with every intention of causing an upset and getting through the first round, and not merely making up the numbers and relishing the occasion. They way they paced their innings and talked about it suggested professionalism that bodes will for the men in green.
Ireland take on the champions, India, on Wednesday before they begin the Super 8 phase. While they will no doubt enjoy themselves tonight and have made their point in the tournament, don’t bet against another upset from the Irish in the coming matches. No doubt they will be taken seriously by all – and rightly so.