Irish cricketers finally show mettle
Justice was done with Ireland’s dramatic last-round Friends Provident Trophy victory over Worcestershire at New Road on Wednesday.
So says Kyle McCallan, Ireland’s captain throughout the tournament, and while he may have lost six tosses out of six, he can, finally, say he has captained an Ireland team to victory over a county.
Peter Connell may have taken the plaudits with his stunning new-ball spell of five for 19 — he actually took all five for just three runs in 14 balls — but the win points, after a series of near-misses, went, deservedly, to Ireland.
“We should have beaten Leicestershire in Leicester, we should have beaten Notts in Dublin and we batted poorly against Worcestershire in Belfast,” said McCallan.
“It was one of those tournaments that we can look back on and say that with a bit more professionalism and more guys being full time and being able to work at it more, we could easily have ended up with four wins. And with the couple of wash-outs added on, Ireland would have been in the quarter finals!”
And as McCallan added: “We didn’t have Trent Johnston and Alex Cusack until the last three matches (and they shared the last four wickets to dismiss Worcesterhire for their all-time low one-day total of 58). And we had no overseas player this year, either, which all the counties had.”
The Waringstown all-rounder had no problem signalling out North Down’s opening bowler for a special mention.
“Pete Connell is a match-winning bowler and we are just looking for a consistency that we want him to produce. He was magnificent yesterday and that is what he is able to do. He has done it before and although we still have areas to work on it really was a match winning performance,” added McCallan.
Now the players are suddenly looking forward to the World Twenty20 and although the tournament does not start until June 8, the squad leave for England next Tuesday for five warm-up matches — the first against New Zealand at Derby next Wednesday — ahead of the grand opening ceremony at Lord’s on June 5.
Meanwhile it has been announced that Ireland will face seven rivals for just two places in the finals of next year’s World Twenty20 in the Caribbean.
The qualifying tournament will take place in Dubai at the end of October with the six top Associates — Ireland, Canada, Netherlands, Kenya, Afghanistan and Scotland — being joined by UAE and the USA.
It has also been confirmed that if Ireland finish in the top two in the Under 19 World Cup Qualifying tournament in Jersey, in July, they must go to Canada in September for the final Global qualifier against the top two from the other four ICC regions. Only the top five in that tournament will progress to next year’s finals.