The chance to declare for Ireland now feels destined but when it came it was as a bit of a surprise. I qualified for Irish citizenship by virtue of my marriage to Vanessa and via a process called 'post nuptial dependency', which was withdrawn shortly after my passport was granted. I met the requirements of Cricket Ireland as I had already spent several seasons playing the game and coaching in Dublin already.
By now it was 2003, I had many friends in the Irish set-up and already felt an affinity. My wife and I discussed the situation and agreed that I could not miss out on this second chance to play in an ICC Cricket World Cup. At this stage it was still only a chance. Ireland had yet to qualify and I felt strongly that if I was to join the Irish set-up I would have to assist in that qualification process and not just turn up when the hard work was done!
So, we left Australia in 2004 with a three-year plan. We would move to Ireland until after the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 in the West Indies. Who knew then that a decade later I would have played in two ICC Cricket World Cups and three ICC World Twenty tournaments with the Irish team and experienced some unimaginable highs from the game I loved which had given me a second chance?
We qualified for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 and it came around pretty quickly. Unexpectedly, I was to lead the team to the West Indies having been asked to take up the captaincy by our coach Adrian Birrell.
Adi and I had, in a short space of time, forged a strong relationship and he felt that together we could take on the challenge that faced us. I was immensely proud to be given this responsibility and would not let him down. Adi has had the greatest influence in my career to date and I am fortunate to regard him as a coaching mentor and valued friend today.
Looking ahead to the tournament we knew that we had landed a pretty good group with teams we knew we could beat. We backed ourselves but at the same time we knew that we would need to play to the best of our ability to cause an upset or two.
Adi's preparation was first class. We played well against South Africa and Canada in the warm-up games and momentum felt with us. When we tied with Zimbabwe in our first-ever World Cup game, we felt that we had arrived. What happened two days later would ensure that Irish cricket would never be the same again!
St Patrick's Day 2007 was the day we beat Pakistan, a former World Cup winning nation, at Sabina Park. This victory was a team effort which reflected the strength of the squad of 15 men. There were no superstars, just normal blokes with a common goal, to play on the world’s stage and have a good old-fashioned crack. To have our families and most loyal fans in the crowd made it very special. Together we celebrated this momentous victory long into the night.
While the win against Pakistan was significant beating Bangladesh in the Super Eights was equally important in my view. It was the most complete game I have been involved in despite playing 198 games for Ireland.
I would have said that those seven weeks in the Caribbean would never be equalled. This tournament signified Irish cricket's emergence from the shadows onto the world's stage. However, Kevin O'Brien had other ideas.
Kevin's achievement at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 in India was remarkable. He produced a once in a lifetime batting display, a match-winning performance that lifted a nation and dispatched our neighbour and closest Full Member, England. The support that Kevin received from Alex Cusack that night doesn’t get the mention it deserves but was just as vital to us winning that game.
Another sweet World Cup victory another special night of celebration shared with family and supporters and to give them credit, a few English players including my old mate Andrew Strauss who's birthday it was that day - sorry pal!
By the time I retired from international cricket last December I had played almost 11 years for Ireland. Vanessa and I had taken a leap of faith leaving Australia with a young family in 2004 but the gamble had paid off and the memories will be forever treasured. I will always be grateful to Vanessa, Claudia and Charlie for allowing me to pursue this dream.
The growth of Irish cricket could not have happened without the support of Richard Done and the ICC High Performance Team. In his role, 'Doney' was often challenged about the true potential of Associate Cricket.
Ireland continued to provide him with ammunition to fight this worthy cause and to justify investment in development. Ireland have dominated associate cricket since 2007 and beaten Full Members along the way. As they campaign for Full Membership, the new custodians of Irish cricket owe a lot to that band of merry men who lit a flame in the Caribbean in 2007. 2015 © ICC Development (International) Limited