Watching the Ryder Cup this week reminded me how lucky England are that Ireland is a non-Test playing nation. There’s something about Irish sportsmen.
When Ed Joyce was first selected for England, I remember being pleased; just what England need, a competitive edge, flair and batting style, a lighter take on life – on the surface at least – an anti-matter version of Ian Bell.
As it happened it didn’t work out for Joyce. Harshly treated by England, batted out of position and finally a victim of the 2006-07 tour fallout, then returning to a county in turmoil – he was the wrong player in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Four years on Eoin Morgan is that player – at least in the one-day game. On top of his range of strokes, his courage and finishing, he’s also got that unmistakable quality – that glamour that pulls you in, makes you want to watch, inspires you to play. And it is all done with the bat – he’s reserved in interviews – an anti-matter version of Graeme Swann.
It’s difficult to pin down exactly what this ‘quality’ is – and maybe it’s only in my imagination. Some players have it, others don’t but many Irish sportsmen seem blessed.
As a one-time golf journalist, I’ve followed Rory McIlroy for a while now and he has that glitter too. In the most fickle of sports, he’s so far lived up to his hype. In fact, the Ryder Cup showed signs of fragility in his game, which he had to overcome. He’s a supreme player and has a magnetism that earns affection.
The England cricket team has become much like the European Ryder Cup team – a conglomeration of nations. I know plenty people get upset by this but if it gives players such as Morgan a chance to entertain and inspire, I couldn’t care less.
Edward Craig is deputy editor of The Wisden Cricketer and was a section editor for Golf Monthly