Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Irish cricketers put World party on ice

It says much for a largely amateur cricket team that there was only the minimal cause for celebration when they reached the World Cup finals for the second time. Only returning home with the World Cup Qualifying trophy after Sunday’s final will satisfy this talented Ireland squad.

The fact that William Porterfield’s side did not know their opponents in the game at Centurion, going into today’s final round of Super Eight games, only underlined the huge gap between Ireland and their rivals here.

Canada, whom Ireland defeated by six wickets, with nine overs to spare, in the group stages 11 days ago, are the team most likely to provide the opposition - their superior run-rate is likely to see them through even if they lost to Netherlands today - but three other teams, Kenya, UAE and the Dutch could join them on eight points in the table, should they lose for the third time in the tournament.

The UAE, who inflicted Canada’s second defeat on Tuesday, met Scotland who face the ignominy of losing their one-day status if they lose again, while Kenya had to beat Ireland if they were to threaten Canada’s top two position.

Ireland, even with changes to their all-conquering side, were in no mood to relax, even with their place in the final assured. How could they when a player such as Kyle McCallan was set to make his debut in the competition.

The Waringstown all rounder (pictured) admitted his disappointment at being left out of Wednesday’s game against the Dutch, especially after proving, at least to himself, his fitness after cracking a rib in hit first net of the tour four weeks ago.

“I bowled six or seven overs, batted for 40 minutes and woke up with no reaction, so yes I was disappointed,” said McCallan.

“After the Afghanistan loss I felt very frustrated because I felt it was a wicket I could have contributed on. Yes, the guys have been magnificent without me but you always wonder could I have made a difference.

“We went into this tournament approaching every game as a final and that’s what made the loss to Afghanistan so difficult to take. While it wasn’t crippling to our chances of qualifying there is that personal pride that we wanted to go through this

competition undefeated and continue to prove we are the top Associate in all forms of the game.

“Priority number one was securing the financial long-term for the next four years (with ODI status) and it would have been a fiasco for Cricket Ireland if we had not qualified in the top six. But we are greedy, we have won everything around us in the last few years and we want to win this competition to put the pressure on ICC to show that Ireland have moved beyond the rest of the Associate teams and we deserve more recognition at the highest level.”

McCallan, who is expected to replace the Middlesex-bound Eoin Morgan in the only change to the regular line-up for the final, expects that to be ratified by victory in Supersport Park on Sunday.

He added: “No matter who we meet in the final, we are playing very good cricket and will be confident of winning the trophy.”

Then, the mother of all parties will get under way.

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