The best match of the 2015 Cricket World Cup so far took place at the Bellerive Oval, Hobart this morning GB time. Ireland, with a century from Ed Joyce and 97 from Andrew Balbirnie reached 331-8. In reply Zimbabwe fought brilliantly, and at various times, not least when they took 19 from the 49th over, bowled by Kevin O’Brien, to leave themselves needing seven of six balls, they looked like favourites for what have been the largest successful chase in World Cup history. Alex Cusack kept a cool head, and put the finishing touches to a fine bowling performance by capturing the two remaining Zimbabwe wickets for the addition of a single, in three balls. A full scorecard can be viewed by clicking here. Having set the scene with this opening account I will share some pictures before moving on…
Not only was that match a classic, featuring quality performances from many players, but the eventual result means that Ireland have now won three matches at this tournament, and are very well placed to progress to the quarter finals. The only disappointment to me was that the Player of the Match Award went boringly (and in my opinion wrongly) to Ed Joyce for his hundred when the key to Ireland’s victory was the cool head under pressure displayed by Alex Cusack. Having witnessed this amazing match I am more convinced than ever that the ICC would be utterly wrong to reduce associate nation involvement in the World Cup. My response to Aakash Chopra who gets to publicise his ideas on www.cricinfo.com and who believes that the World Cup should be reduced to ten teams and that the associates should concentrate on getting to play more matches against full members outside of world cups is twofold. First he is guilty of presenting a false dichotomy: it is not a case of either or – i would like to see both more matches between full members and associates outside of world cups and greater associate participation in World Cups. Whether he is guilty of any offence beyond sloppy logic I am not prepared to say, but it is only in cricket that anyone argues for a smaller world cup. My thoughts on how the Cricket World Cup should be formatted can be viewed by clicking here.
Congratulations to Ireland on a magnificent performance. Before sharing some more pictures I will comment on nations who first entered the world cup as associates and are now full members:
Sri Lanka – played 1975 and 1979 as associates before being granted full membership – Won in 1996 (a feat never achieved by England), Runners up in 2011.
Zimbabwe – made world cup debut in 1983 as an associate,promoted to full membership in 1992 – beat Australia in their first ever world cup match, nearly beat India (eventual champions), later in that competition, and in 1999 when England were ejected from their own party embarrassingly early came with an ace of qualifying for the semi-final.
Bangladesh – No great highlights yet, but are going fairly well this time, and there is at least one person who would not be in the least surprised were they to end up progressing further than England.
Now for the second batch of pictures…