Ireland won the first ODI, played on Sunday in Amstelveen, by 88 runs, before Tuesday’s match ended in a thrilling tie. With the top two teams in the WCL Championship qualifying for the ICC CWC 2015, the result of one win and one tie means that Ireland has reached an unassailable tally of 20 points to open up a five point lead over Netherlands and Scotland (15 points each), thus securing its qualification to the ICC’s flagship 50-over event, regardless of how the seventh and final round matches of the competition pan out.
Mr Richardson said: “Ireland has performed extremely well throughout this competition, winning nine of its 12 matches against the strongest teams in Associate and Affiliate cricket to become the first team to qualify for the ICC CWC in 2015.
“Ireland has been at the forefront of the rising standard and profile of Associate and Affiliate cricket around the world, and we look forward to watching the team in 2015 try to emulate – and even better - its giant-killing performances of the ICC CWC 2007 and 2011,” he said.
In the ICC CWC 2007, Ireland defeated Pakistan and Bangladesh, while in 2011, it recorded a heart-stopping victory over England.
Mr Richardson added: “The Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship provides great context to Associate and Affiliate cricket. With one team still to qualify from the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship, the competition is wide open and any one of Scotland, Netherlands and Afghanistan can progress directly to the main event in Australia and Zealand in 18 months’ time.
“The remaining six unsuccessful sides from the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship, along with Hong Kong, Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Uganda will have another opportunity to qualify for the ICC CWC 2015 at the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2014, which will be staged in New Zealand next year.”
The ICC CWC 2015 will be Ireland’s sixth global event, with the side having already competed in the ICC CWC in 2007 and 2011, as well as the ICC World Twenty20 in 2009, 2010 and 2012.
Ireland captain William Porterfield was delighted with the result. “It means everything. We knew that if we came to Holland and won two games, we’d win the competition. We’ve won one and tied one, so that does the same job in effect, so it’s pretty much ‘mission accomplished.’ We’re pretty happy; we’ve come here to do a job and we’ve done it.”
However, the 28 year-old admitted that his side’s high expectations made it bittersweet to qualify for the ICC CWC 2015 after a tied result. “(It feels) strange at the minute. We’ve come off almost feeling like a bit of a loss. I think it won’t take us that long to get over the fact that we’ve just drawn the game because we have qualified for the (ICC Cricket) World Cup, we just wanted to do that with a win. But now, we’ll be pretty happy.”
Ireland coach Phil Simmons was thrilled with his side’s efforts to secure direct qualification to the ICC Cricket World Cup. “I think it is a big thing. It is something that we want as a company, as a team, as people from Ireland now – they expect us to be at every World Cup, and people say that on Wednesday and Thursday that they are going to start booking their tickets for Australia and New Zealand. We need to keep showing people that we are good enough, and hopefully at the next one we’ll get a lot further than we’ve been at the last two (ICC Cricket World Cups).”
The former West Indies all-rounder would have preferred to secure qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup with a win rather than a tie, but he was pleased nonetheless. “(We feel) a little bit of disappointment because of the tie. I think it was a good game in the fact that we were out of it after a while and then we worked hard to come back into it and then to tie it at the end - two ties in four weeks isn’t good for my heart, but we got the point that we needed!
“More important for me is to win the competition. We are now at the stage where we know we are going to qualify for World Cups, but we want to win every competition that we play, and that is satisfying for me today – we’ve won this competition.”
WCL Championship points table (after Tuesday’s ODI between Ireland-Netherlands):
Forthcoming sixth round matches (* denotes matches broadcast live at www.icc-cricket.com)
Canada v UAE, Maple Leaf, Toronto, 6 and 8 August
Namibia v Afghanistan, Wanderers, Windhoek, 9 and 11 August*
Canada v Netherlands, King City, Toronto, 27 and 29 August*
Ireland v Scotland, Stormont, Belfast, 6 and 8 September*
UAE v Namibia, Sharjah, 27 and 29 September*
Afghanistan v Kenya, Sharjah, 2 and 4 October*
The squads for the remaining fixtures of the penultimate round of the WCL Championship, to be played between Canada and the UAE, and Namibia and Afghanistan, will be announced in due course.