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Deutrom: An unforgettable victory - but we're not quite ready for test matches yet

Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom talks to TheScore about a memorable night for Irish sport and the future prospects for Ireland’s cricket team.

Image: ©INPHO/Sportzpics/Aman Sharma

IN THE INDIAN city of Bangalore, it’s the morning after night before. In the aftermath of one of the most famous victories in the nation’s sporting history, you get the sense that things might a little bit hectic in the Irish camp.

When I dial the number for Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom, an unfamiliar voice answers the phone. It’s one of Deutrom’s associates who informs me that the boss is actually getting ready to talk to American TV network CBS and that I’d be better off calling back in about a half-an-hour.

CBS? Nice.

When I do finally manage to get a hold of Deutrom, he is very apologetic. ”Sorry about that. You might have been getting an engaged tone for the last few minutes. It’s been a busy day.”

The sense of delight in Deutrom’s voice is evident. Ignoring the fact that I’m probably phone-call number 217 today, he is happy to talk as if I’m the first person he’s had a chance to speak to.

It was a fantastic evening not just for Irish cricket but for Irish sport in general. I’ve been more than happy to field calls from the Irish and international media all day.

It’s not often that a story makes onto both the front and back pages of the papers.

I hardly need to ask about the mood in the Irish camp; I’d imagine it’s equivalent to the buzz which enveloped the country last night, except multiplied by a thousand. When I ask anyway, I’m assured that nobody is getting carried away or losing sight of their goal – qualification for the tournament’s quarter-final stages.

The players were very upbeat last night. It was a terrific occasion and it was only right to celebrate it. That shouldn’t be denied to the players and to all involved.

There was a sense among the players last night that there’s still a lot of serious business to be taken care of, starting with the game against India on Sunday morning. They made sure that they were the first to leave the party last night.

In the run-up to yesterday’s match, the English media made a lot of the fact that it was captain Andrew Strauss’ 34th birthday. Coincidentally, 34 is also the number of runs which Strauss managed to score before he was dismissed by 18-year-old George Dockrell.

He might have been gutted but at least the Irish lads bought him a cake, Deutrom tells me.

Both sides are staying in the same hotel. We had bought a birthday cake for Andrew Strauss and himself and Jonathan Trott and a few of the other English lads came in to our party for a bit last night before they rejoined their own team.

I think that really demonstrates the magnamimity that they showed even after what must have been a devastating defeat for them.

Future prospects

With the country all aflutter about cricket, what I really want to find out is where do we go from here. Just last week, Deutrom was worried that Ireland might be earmarked as a second-tier cricketing country forever. Now, every dog on the street seems to be of the opinion that the ICC need to grant Ireland test-playing status, and fast.

But what does the man at the top of cricket in Ireland think we need  in order to progress and develop?

What we really need is to play more games.

I think it’s a bit premature to suggest that we might be ready to become a test-playing nation just yet. That’s more of a medium-term goal, something that we will be looking to do over the next five to ten years.

In the meantime, we just need to get many more one-day matches against some of the bigger sides under our belts.

I think have proved already this week that we can be competitive. Just think of how much more competitive we can become if we’re testing ourselves against the best on a regular basis.

Obstacles

One of the things that’s delaying Ireland’s promotion is the uncertainty of the sport in general at the moment, Deutrom tells me, as well as concerns about player welfare. “The real concern,” he says, “is that the players will burn out”

At the moment, the introduction of Ireland as a new test-playing nation would only increase the amount of matches and the demands on the players.

The other obstacle which Ireland will have to overcome is “the fear that adding another perceived ‘whipping boy’might damage the image of the sport and make it seem very uncompetitive”.

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“However,” he adds, “if we continue on our current trajectory, we should be the next cab off the rank in terms of becoming a test-playing side”

And if not? Do Ireland still have a chance of making the 2015 Cricket World Cup in England? Or have the ICC decided already that only the creme de la creme should be allowed to participate?

“There’s nothing set in stone yet with regards to 2015,” Deutrom assures me.

Based on our performance yesterday and the Dutch performance against England last week, I think we deserve to be there. The game would be a poorer place without us.

As Graeme Swann said a couple of weeks ago, “don’t take the ‘world’ out of of the World Cup.”

I wonder if “Swanny” still felt the same way this morning …

Deutrom: Give Ireland a chance to qualify for 2015 World Cup >| Read the rest of our Cricket World Cup coverage here >

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Niall Kelly

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