Ireland’s win had everything that makes a World Cup great, except one thing. The result did not matter enough. Though try telling that to Kevin O’Brien or Andrew Strauss this morning. Both will surely be hurting badly: the former with a hangover and muscle fatigue, the latter through shame.
But beyond the emotional and physical repercussions Ireland’s three-wicket victory will almost certainly mean nothing in practical terms for the tournament.
England have scraped passed the Netherlands, tied with India and lost to Ireland – they should be on the plane. Meanwhile the Irish should be in a position to advance in the tournament, as they did in 2007 after their improbable defeat of Pakistan.
In the TWC office we were bewildered at O’Brien’s brilliance and England’s ineptitude. For our resident Aussie advertising salesman this went a long way to atoning for the Ashes, for the rest of us Poms – mostly – enjoyed a great game.
I know that sounds patronising to Ireland but that’s certainly the way I felt. I didn’t want England to lose but I was open-mouthed at O’Brien’s hitting and the terrific drama that was unfolding.
I might have felt differently had the result had more consequences for England though I doubt it because Ireland deserved to win and they did so with such fearlessness.
So much for the World Cup being dull, England have been party to three of the best matches and have done their bit to boost the Associate nations.
In this month’s TWC, Graeme Swann bemoans the proposed cull of Associates: “Yes, of course the emerging nations should stay in it. Why would you want to take the world out of the World Cup? Shocks can happen.”
What prescience from Swanny. So I felt compelled to pick up the phone to the chief executive of Cricket Ireland – and here’s what he said …
John Stern is editor of The Wisden Cricketer. Follow him on WisdenCric_John