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Windies win further evidence Ireland aren't prepared to bow to the established order

This side aren’t afraid to go against the tide in order to receive greater recognition.

Ireland earned further praise for another superlative performance.
Ireland earned further praise for another superlative performance.
Image: PHOTOSPORT/Chris Symes/INPHO

JAMAICA, BANGALORE AND now Nelson – the incessant lengthening of Ireland’s colourful cricketing history knows no bounds.

But, as the ball flashed off John Mooney’s blade, skywards towards the boundary, to bring Ireland past their victory target and complete another victory that underlined their growing stature in world cricket, there was no frenzied pitch invasion or lap of honour.

If anything, the restrained celebrations told their own story.

This was a win just as, if not more, significant than those enduring days in 2007 and 2011 but times have changed. Such a result is no longer seen as the exception but needs to be, and is becoming, the norm.

The days of rubbing shoulders with the sport’s protagonists – and despite their recent struggles, two-time World Cup winners West Indies are very much one – is no longer seen as enough because Ireland are a side not content with sitting tight and accepting the established order.

In the build-up to the tournament, the players have used their media commitments as the platform to voice their collective displeasure at the International Cricket Council’s decision to contract the size of the next World Cup to just ten teams.

William Porterfield tries to stop the ball Ireland have extra incentive to showcase their wares at this World Cup but it's a determination to prove the ICC wrong which is driving their cause Source: PHOTOSPORT/Chris Symes/INPHO

“I hate to say it, but this could be our last World Cup,” Ed Joyce conceded before the tournament began. It’s a distinct possibility that Ireland, by no fault of their own, won’t be part of the 2019 edition in England.

However, no words can speak louder than action.

This was not the acclaimed heist of four years ago when England were stunned into submission but a perfectly executed plan that had been months in the pipeline – one that brought a one-time cricketing powerhouse to its knees.

To many, the outcome wasn’t hugely surprising. West Indies cricket has been on a slippery slope for some time now and their preparation has been disrupted by internal disharmony but even when Darren Sammy and Lendl Simmons threatened to wrestle the game away from Ireland, William Porterfield and his team mates weren’t prepared to bow to the pressure.

If anything, they relish the challenge and the big stage but this was as clinical as it comes, regardless of whether it’s an ‘Associate’ nation against a Full Member.

It was only the fifth time a score of 300 or more was successfully chased down in a World Cup. Incredibly, three of them have been achieved by Ireland. How much more needs to be done in order to convince the top brass of the ICC that Ireland deserve to be placed on a level playing field?

Ireland fans Phil Simmons' side have received huge support from all over the world as a team prepared to go against the tide for the greater good of the game Source: PHOTOSPORT/Chris Symes/INPHO

Speaking to The42 before the squad left for Australia/New Zealand, Joyce said the defeat to the Windies four years ago, when they were in a promising position, still wrangled with the players.

Most notably though he said he knew if Ireland were to find themselves in a similar position now they would be sure to get across the line. They did that with remarkable conviction yesterday.

As much as anything, Ireland are driven by the determination to prove the doubters wrong and the frustration born out of being neglected by the organisation meant to be facilitating and encouraging their blossoming.

In no other sport is the ladder being pulled up on those trying to climb it and this World Cup offers Ireland, and the other three Associates, the opening to put further pressure on the ICC to rethink their narrow-minded, money-orientated decision.

Dave Richardson, the ICC Chief Executive, says the World Cup should be made up of competitive games between evenly matched sides. In their first Pool B match, Ireland have shown what they can bring, both on and off the field, to a tournament often criticised for being too mundane.

It is, however, a start that needs to be built upon. Naturally, much of the post-match narrative centered around the immediate impact of the win in Nelson and all of the Irish camp were quick to stress they are here to do more than just upset a few of the big boys but take this tournament by storm – they have teed themselves up perfectly to do just that.

As Paul Stirling bullied the West Indies attack in typically combative manner and Ed Joyce broke the back of the forlorn opposition, it was perhaps apt that Mooney was there at the end, to see the side over the line on another day made possible by the hard work and determination during the days in the cricketing wilderness.

Ed Joyce Ed Joyce has been particulary vocal in the stance against the ICC and backed up his words on Monday with an innings of consummate mastery Source: PHOTOSPORT/Chris Symes/INPHO

The paucity of fixtures between World Cup means the intervening years can be a protracted period as Ireland crave for the type of exposure that will only aid their progression. In the last four years, Ireland have played just 11 ODIs. In comparison, Sri Lanka have played 118 in that same period.

But, Mooney embodies the type of resolve, tenacity and courage that has been the cornerstone of Ireland’s cricketing renaissance and it’s no coincidence that he’s finished the job in both Bangalore and now Nelson.

The squad make the five hour trip to Brisbane on Tuesday as they try and come back down to earth and start afresh against UAE on 25 February. You get the feeling with this side that refocusing the mind won’t be a problem, however.

Originally published at 16 February at 22.30

‘I don’t have sympathy for my opponents. It’s not in me’ – Phil Simmons

Where does today’s West Indies win rank in Ireland’s greatest World Cup victories?

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Ryan Bailey

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