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Brennan's Brief If Ireland cricket team play as well as they did in Jamaica last week they will make 2023 World Cup


Ireland's Josh Little shakes hands with Sri Lanka's Kusal Perera after their October match

Ireland's Josh Little shakes hands with Sri Lanka's Kusal Perera after their October match

Ireland's Josh Little shakes hands with Sri Lanka's Kusal Perera after their October match

On a busy sporting weekend, it might have slipped past your notice, especially as the result of the decisive match only came through at 9.30pm on Sunday night.

But, for the first time ever, Ireland’s Men’s cricket team won a series against top opposition.

Yes, out in the famous Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica, they beat the West Indies 2-1 in a 50overs series. There was no fluke about it, no inconvenient rain shower for the opposition, for Ireland really ought to have won the match they lost too, the first of the three games.

That they fought back and beat the ‘Windies’, on one of their most storied grounds, was a real demonstration of where the game of cricket is now in Ireland.

Now it has to be said that the West Indies are not the power they once were in world cricket. There are no batsmen like Gary Sobers or Brian Lara to club the other team’s bowling around the pitch.

There are no fearsome fast bowlers like Michael Holding and Joel Garner to terrorize the facing batsmen. But still, this is a notable scalp for Ireland.

Irish cricket goes back a long way, the game has been played in this country for well over a century. But the last 15 years have seen huge ups and downs for the sport.

On St. Patrick’s Day 2007, on the same Sabina Park pitch, Ireland put Pakistan out of that year’s World Cup. Asked to comment on the win, one wag said “it’s a bit like Pakistan beating Ireland at hurling.”

Because of that shock result, the format of all 50-over and T20 World Cups ever since have been changed to ensure that one of the game’s great powers cannot go out of the competition after just one loss to a minnow.

That team featured Trent Johnston, Noel Mooney and Kevin and Niall O’Brien. Talk about baking up a surprise.

Four years later, Ireland’s men with bat and ball were at it again. In helping the team to beat England in Bangalore, Kevin O’Brien scored the fast ever 50-over World Cup century. It’s a record he still holds.

But there were also disappointments. Ireland failed to qualify for the 50-over 2019 World Cup in England and they missed out on the T20 World Cup last year too.

Getting into the 2023 World Cup, to be played in India, has to be a massive target now for this team. Last week’s two victories will earn the lads a lot of qualifying points, but our place at the big dance is still likely to come down to a qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe in the summer of next year, where Ireland will have to finish in the top two of ten teams to get to India later that year.

It will probably come down to one vital match against the likes of Namibia, UAE, Oman or the hosts Zimbabwe. Four year’s work hanging on one day of cricket. If they can play as well as they did in Jamaica last week, Ireland will make it.

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