Sunday, 3 April 2011

Tournament review: Ireland

Beginning our assessment of how each of the 14 teams fared in the World Cup, this is the verdict on Ireland.

Ireland's remarkable victory against England, inspired by Kevin O’Brien’s blade, was a stunning riposte to the ICC’s decision to limit the 2015 World Cup to ten teams. Yet, in spite of that, Ireland will reflect on the tournament with genuine disappointment – had they beaten the West Indies, as they may well have done had they not dropped Kieran Pollard early on, they would gave qualified for the quarter-finals. Their top-order batting disappointed, with the top four only scoring two fifties between them in the five games against Test opposition, and panicking against Bangladesh when Ireland should have won. With the ball Ireland were always combative, though Boyd Rankin disappointed - and they were arguably the best fielding side in the whole tournament, with an admirable ability to conjure direct hits.

Star man

With flight, guile and unrelenting accuracy, George Dockrell claimed 2/23 against Bangaldesh and two more wickets, including Sachin Tendulkar, against India. Aged just 18 and with a Somerset contract, Ireland will be nervous of him following Eoin Morgan’s path.

Disappointment

Paul Stirling hit a spectacular 72-ball 102 against the Netherlands but the opener only managed 56 runs in Ireland’s other five games opening.

Prospects

Proved they are the best associate – and they showed themselves a better side than Zimbabwe to. Need more games against Test-playing sides, and they have four to look forward to this summer, to build on their excellent progress. They will await the ICC’s decision on qualification for 2015 with interest – it will be an outrage if Ireland are denied the chance to qualify.

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