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16 February 201514:00

Why you shouldn’t be surprised by Ireland’s win

Teams who do not take Ireland seriously, do so at their own peril

Why you shouldn’t be surprised by Ireland’s win - Cricket News

Ireland’s surprise factor has worn off, but its players are happy to have earned the respect of rival teams.

Ireland has knocked off a Test-playing nation for the third ICC Cricket World Cup in a row.

But for those who follow the Associate nation, the four-wicket win over the West Indies was anything but a surprise.

This team has come a long way from the group of amateur players which shocked Pakistan in 2007.

Ireland is a team of full-time, professional cricketers, many of whom have county cricket contracts in England.

It has become a serious player in world cricket and rest assured, no team in Pool B is taking Ireland lightly.

It is a telling statistic that in World Cup history, teams have only successfully chased more than 300 runs on five occasions.

Ireland is responsible for three of them.

When Ireland burst on to the World Cup scene in 2007, upsetting Pakistan and Bangladesh, tying with Zimbabwe and progressing to the Supers 8s, it was safe to say the boys in green had taken other teams by surprise.

It was a similar story – albeit to a lesser extent – in 2011, when Ireland knocked off age-old rival England.

"These days, the cricket world knows exactly what this Associate nation is capable of. "

Teams who do not take Ireland seriously, do so at their own peril.

While the West Indies’ form is questionable – it has come into the World Cup off a heavy series loss to South Africa – Ireland did not simply fall over the line.

It may have stuttered in the late stages against the Windies, but Ireland otherwise dominated its opening clash in Nelson, taking control early with the wickets of Dwayne Smith, (18), Chris Gayle (36), Darren Bravo (0), Marlon Samuels (21) and Denesh Ramdin (1).

While the Windies recovered to post a decent 304-7, Ireland’s batsman – led by Paul Stirling and Ed Joyce - ensured the result was never in doubt.

Ireland’s surprise factor has worn off, but its players are happy to have earned the respect of rival teams.

“I think we definitely get more respect,” said spinner George Dockrell, a 22-year-old playing in his second World Cup, before Monday’s match.

“I think they are more aware of the threat we have been and that’s why teams are treating us a little bit differently.

“For Ireland the possibilities are a bit endless at the moment.”

Veteran allrounder John Mooney, who scored the winning runs on Monday, also noted sides would take Ireland lightly to their own detriment before the start of the tournament.

“Our skill levels have gone up dramatically since 2007,” Mooney said.

“We’ve got a fully professional squad. We’ve got professional players who aren’t even in the 15 which is massive.”

Ireland’s preparations for the World Cup were exhaustive. The team toured Australia and New Zealand in September and October last year, familiarising itself with the local conditions.

It then played a series of warm-up matches in Dubai prior to Christmas including two matches against a strong New Zealand A side featuring World Cup squad members Kyle Mills, Martin Guptill, Luke Ronchi, Nathan McCullum, Mitchell McClenaghan and Adam Milne.

Ireland then returned to the United Arab Emirates in January for an ODI series against Afghanistan and Scotland, which it won.

Now, the team has serious ambitions of progressing beyond the pool stage of the tournament.

Ireland brings with it plenty of World Cup experience: 84 games, to be precise. By comparison, defending champions India has 36 games of tournament experience, and Australia has 53.

Players in Ireland’s 2015 squad have scored 16 ODI tons between them, more than the England (15) and Zimbabwe (10) squads and equal with Bangladesh.

Skipper William Porterfield, John Mooney, Ed Joyce and brothers Kevin and Niall O’Brien are playing in their third tournaments.
Talented youngsters Dockrell and Stirling are making their second appearances, as are Alex Cusack and Gary Wilson.

"As Porterfield said after Monday’s win: “I don’t see it as an upset. We came into this game prepared to win. We are looking to pick up two points in every game.”"

Ireland’s big World Cup chases:
2015: West Indies 304-7 defeated by Ireland 307-6
2011: England 327 defeated by Ireland 329-7
2011: Netherlands 306 defeated by Ireland 307-4