Reader Paul McGreivy, from County Sligo in Ireland, tells a tale of how he experienced Ireland’s World Cup win over Pakistan last time round
I moved to Ireland 10 years ago but there is very little cricket here in the West. I used to play in the Hertfordshire County League at a half-decent level but being over 35, with a sore back and a house to build, I never really thought too much about taking it up again.
Until one bizarre day when I popped into the local shop-and-pub to catch, erm, the last post.
There they were … 100 of them – dazed, confused and excited – jammed into a small smoky room, qatching the final overs of Ireland playing Pakistan in the last World Cup.
Have you ever seen 100 men in a bar getting excited but 99 of them didn’t have a clue what was going on?
“Pull up a stool there, Englishman, you must know what de bejeezus is going on here. De fella running up and down and stopping is he the one with the ball?”
“Err yes he’s the bowler,” I replied.
“And tell me dis now, when can the fella hit it? Is it a bit like de Slitter (an Irish hurly ball)?”
So to cut a long story a bit longer, there I was in a pub in the west of Ireland, full of half-cut, early-evening, red-faced farmers, who didn’t have a clue about cricket, but were ferociously supporting their country and trying to understand the game. There I was cheering on the boys in green and explaining every shot. I’d only popped in for a stamp or four.
“Yes. They need three to win now,” I said.
Then the local councillor enters the bar and starts talking in his usual, mega-phonic voice, as the 99 lay silent waiting, transfixed.
“Shud up ya eejit can ya not see we’re watching de cricket, we’re going to beat de Indians!”
I nearly cried when I heard …
So as the ball sailed through the deep midwicket boundary I found myself clapping and shouting “yes, yes!!” as the 99 looked on open-mouthed at me. Then after an eternal pause, they burst into cheers and hollows in the pub.
So as I walked back to my office, I looked down at my recently acquired two stone beer belly and knew then there was only one way I was going to shift this.
I now drive (200 miles) every weekend to the outskirts of Dublin – two stone lighter – with my six-year-old co-pilot wearing his green Ireland T-shirt, holding his size one bat.
When he plays for Ireland, he’ll have 99 red-faced farmers to thank.
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