Dileep Premachandran is out of the gates with a column on Ireland’s famous victory over England:
A cosy clique works for those within, but it alienates everyone else, and destroys their chances of development. Sri Lanka won just two of their first 15 World Cup matches. Had the ICC lost patience after they lost every game in 1987, there would have been no Cinderella story in 1996.
Of course, Sri Lanka had a thriving school system to produce talent, and fine coaches. The likes of Ireland and Netherlands don’t, yet, and they never will if young kids are denied the chance to dream of being the next O’Brien or ten Doeschate on the world stage.
So far, the Associates haven’t had a good World Cup. Netherlands put out a right good scare for England, but their bowlers are weak. Kenya and Canada have been downright appalling, and Zimbabwe hasn’t played at the level of a soon-to-be Test nation. Only Ireland have played consistently well, almost beating Bangladesh and now trumping England.
What does this mean? As Dileep argues, World Cups matter less than sound domestic cricket bodies that promote the game at every level, recruiting talent at a young age and then training it for the international level. Ireland’s proximity to England has been a blessing and a curse: a blessing because it feeds the interest in the sport, and a curse because it occasionally means good players like Eoin Morgan and Ed Joyce skip across the pond.
As I’ve said before, forget the World Cup Associate debate, because it’s a distraction from the larger issue: building viable domestic structures. Some may argue victories like Ireland’s provide a necessary spark — young kids will read of the victory in tomorrow’s papers and ask their parents for a cricket bat — but I say it’s just not enough. The trickier question is this: if Ireland is not good enough for the World Cup, will it be good enough for bilateral series against countries like Australia and India, both notorious for eying only the bottom line and nothing else?