16 March 2015
Ireland's World Cup wrap
The close finishes are what cost Ireland, as it finished level on points with West Indies in Pool B but below it on NRR
Ireland's match against Pakistan was the biggest game in Irish cricket history and while the result did not go as planned, Ireland should be proud of what it achieved at the tournament.
It would be hard to find a more cohesive and committed squad at the World Cup than Ireland, which came to the tournament fully believing it could progress to the quarter finals and beyond.
Sunday’s match against Pakistan was the biggest game in Irish cricket history and while the result did not go as planned, Ireland should be proud of what it achieved at the tournament.
It showed Associate teams can compete at the highest level, defeating Test nations West Indies and Zimbabwe, and also provided two of the most entertaining matches of the tournament to date when its matches against United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe went down to the wire.
It also became the first Associate team to score more than 200 against South Africa, and its total against India was the highest of the tournament before being surpassed by Zimbabwe in the final match.
Ultimately, the close finishes are what cost Ireland, as it finished level on points with West Indies in Pool B but below it on NRR.
Despite the disappointment of going home at the end of the pool matches, Ireland moved up one place in the ICC ODI team rankings thanks to its three victories, and now sits ahead of Afghanistan in 11th spot.
Speaking after the Adelaide match, skipper William Porterfield said he was reluctant to call it a “missed opportunity”.
“We've come in, we've obviously beaten two test nations. We've played some very good cricket. We've won three games,” he said.
“It's very easy to go missing sometimes when you get behind in a game against some very strong sides. But we haven't done that, we've fought on, even the game against South Africa.
“We were 50 for 5, but the way the lower order and tail brought us up over 200, obviously that was pretty high quality bowling we were up against.”
While disappointed to not make the quarter finals, Porterfield said the belief the team had in its abilities was pleasing.
“We had high hopes and we came in with a lot of confidence in how we were playing, and that's a testament to where we've come and where we're at the minute as a team,” he said.
“We've got that confidence and belief to come out and beat anyone.
“We've obviously given the fans back home quite a lot to cheer about, and there's been a lot of fans come out here to support us so we'd like to thank them, as well. It's great when you have that kind of support.”
South Africa captain AB de Villiers was full of praise for Ireland after the teams met in Canberra.
“I've been very impressed with the way they've improved as a cricket team. I've played against them in three World Cups now, and every time I've seen a hell of an improvement in their skill and the way they play the game,” de Villiers said.
Porterfield’s excellent century in Adelaide was one of the highlights of the tournament for Ireland. Ed Joyce also walked away with a ton, while Andrew Balbirnie came agonisingly close in Hobart when he was run out on 97.
Paul Stirling scored a match-winning 92 against West Indies in Napier, while Gary Wilson, Kevin O’Brien and Niall O’Brien also scored fifties.
Porterfield led the run scoring with 275 runs at 45.83 average, followed by Joyce (246 at 41) and Balbirnie (236 at 39.33).
“That's one thing that we've done is lads have stuck their hand up throughout the batting line-up, and obviously we've got a couple hundreds but we've had nineties and things like that, so every game lads have contributed and put their hand up,” Porterfield said.
With the ball, Alex Cusack topped the tables with seven wickets at 24.57, including best figures of 4-32 against Zimbabwe.
While Ireland’s strength at the tournament was in its batting, Porterfield said the country had talented young bowlers with plenty of potential, including World Cup squad members Peter Chase and Craig Young.
“They obviously didn't get it going in this competition. But they're knocking on the door. They're not a million miles away,” he said.
“They're not express, but they're probably sitting in around 83, 84 (miles per hour) and they can swing the ball so they've got skills there, as well.
“Stuart Thompson, as well, he's small but he's quite skitty when he gets it right, as well. There last two games he's been chucked into the deep end there playing against the world champions first and then Pakistan, and he's accredited himself very well.
“So there’s young lads there that are looking to put their hands up and obviously if we can get them enough cricket then they'll be good to go, as well.”
Porterfield said the addition of a cricket academy in Ireland, a board restructure and the development of grounds and net facilities all boded well for the future of Ireland cricket.
“The academy has been a great addition for ourselves, as well, because the young lads coming through need to play cricket, as well, when they come out of school,” he said.
“They need to get into a system where they can. We've got the interprovincial system up and going, as well, which is three-day, 50-over and Twenty20 comp back home.
“When that grows, as well, and we get an extra couple of teams, then hopefully that develops into a first-class structure and that'll turn into obviously need to go semi-professional first, then turn into a professional structure so lads don't have to leave Ireland to make a living out of cricket.
“There's a lot of great things that have happened that are in our control and how we're trying to develop the game, and hopefully when the day comes and we do get test status and we have got the first-class structure back home, then things will be bright there.”
Ireland has a home fixture in Dublin against England in May followed by an ODI in Belfast against Australia in August, as well as hosting the qualifying tournament for the ICC World T20 in July.
With Ireland hoping to continue to develop and push for Test status, Porterfield said he hoped to see more fixtures added to the schedule.
“We've missed out on the quarterfinals on that run rate. I think we've shown what we can do,” he said.
“Combined we've played in four years as what one (Test) nation has in a year. I think we obviously need more than just games, but yeah, there has to be more teams in world competitions.”
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