The Rise of Ireland's Cricket Team

the riddleContributor IJune 21, 2009

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 14:  John Mooney of Ireland hits out during the ICC World Twenty20 Super Eights match between Ireland and Sri Lanka at Lord's on June 14, 2009 in London, England.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

The 2009 Twenty20 World Cup in England began on 5th June. 12 countries, including three associate nations, took part in this event with the experts touting India and South Africa as the clear favorites to lift the cup.

Defending champions India were eliminated in the Super Eight stages, losing all of their matches whereas South Africa were beaten by the underdogs Pakistan in the semifinals.

The final of this mega event was won by the unfancied Pakistan, as they edged out Sri Lanka.

In spite of the many upsets that took place, the rise of Ireland was heartening. Ireland has the reputation of being the giant killers in the big tournaments. They upset the much fancied side of Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup, their first major tournament and progressed to the Super Eight stages where they defeated Bangladesh as well.

In this World Cup they beat Bangladesh again to get to the next stage where they almost gave Sri Lanka a scare. They have a superb fielding side along with decent batters and good bowlers.

Their key players are captain William Porterfield, Trent Johnston, Kyle McCallan, the O’Brien brothers Niall and Kevin, their main speedster Boyd Rankin, among others. Boyd Rankin in fact is one of the best pacers in the world as of now.

The O’Brien brothers provide the much needed spark to the team Niall being a wicketkeeper batsman and Kevin being an all-rounder. Much like the New Zealand side Ireland has plenty of all-rounders. McCallan and Johnston are more bowlers than batsman.

Other than playing in the World Cup Ireland also play in various competitions involving the other associate nations like Netherlands, Scotland, Namibia, and Bermuda. Ireland and Scotland also play in the Friends Provident Trophy involving the English county clubs.

Much like Sri Lanka who had become world champions in 1996 after being total outsiders in 1992, Ireland have the potential to make a mark for themselves in future World Cups.