As Ireland make their way home from the cricket World Cup after a pool stage exit, it speaks volumes for the high standards they now set themselves, that they will be somewhat disappointed in their performance over the last month.
The opening match victory against the West Indies, while thrilling, did not have the same giant killing feel, that both Ireland’s victories over Pakistan and England had at previous World Cups. Ireland came to the World Cup this year not only to participate but to progress, and a place in the knockout stages was deemed a reasonable target.
At times, it come occasionally seem as though we’re not allowed to criticise the associate nations. There right to compete at global tournament’s has been rightly trumpeted over the last month. But if Ireland wish to mix it wit the full members, then they are also open to similar levels of criticism.
To be fair to the Irish side, they themselves set the highest standards fro their performances. They will be bitterly disappointed to miss out on the knockout stages, not only to further advance the associate case, but also because they know they’re good enough.
When in form, Ireland can beat any other ODI nation; it’s as simple as that. Despite lacking the resources and infrastructure of the Test nations, when it comes to ODI cricket, Ireland are certainly faring no worse than Bangladesh, West Indies or England.
During the World Cup, Ireland’s bowlers did not perform to the standards we have come to expect. After two victories from the opening two matches, Ireland ran out of answers in the face of some outstanding batsmanship from Hashim Amla and Faf Du Plessis In truth, most attacks would have struggled to cope with South Africa in that form. But many described Ireland’s bowling as naïve or inexperienced, but actually it was just poor. Naivety does not come into it, Ireland are good enough to compete with all sides, and on that day they were poor.
In matches against India and Pakistan, the boys in green could only post a meagre total and their bowlers simply weren’t good enough to defend it. Alex Cusack aside, it was a disappointing campaign for Ireland’s bowlers. The batsman will also be underwhelemed by their own form, Joyce and Porterfield led ably at the top of the order, but the late order hitting that all the best sides in this World Cup have utilised, failed to come to fruition.
Make no mistake, I think Ireland did okay. Certainly far better than England, and they probably deserved a quarterfinal place at least. But Ireland are now good enough to be considered amongst the top 11 ODI sides in the world, comfortably so even.
Skipper William Porterfield spoke out once again at the ICC’s decision to limit the 2019 World Cup to just 10 teams. One has to wonder if the a part of the reason for the limitation, is that associate’s such as Ireland are getting a bit too good. God forbid they upset the applecart and don’t guarantee maximum games for India.
For Ireland, the next four years could be tough. Left fighting for scraps on the ODi calendar, and with no guarantee of a place at the next World Cup. They will need to stick together as a group and continue their strong performances if they are to increase the pressure on the ICC.