DUBLIN; When Ireland become the 11th nation to play Test cricket against Pakistan at Dublin’s Malahide ground on Friday it will be the culmination of a journey that started nearly three hundred years ago.
There are records of cricket being played in Ireland as early as 1731, with Dublin’s Phoenix Cricket Club — still going — founded in 1830.
But the sport’s reputation suffered from being seen as the creation of English “colonisers”, with native games such as Gaelic football and hurling holding sway.
Ireland first made the rest of the cricket world sit up and take notice when they skittled out the touring West Indies, reputed to have enjoyed some typically generous Irish hospitality, for just 25 on their way to a victory at Sion Mills in 1969.
After competing in English county one-day competitions, Ireland eventually made it to the 2007 World Cup finals following three failed qualifying attempts.
Having tied with Zimbabwe in their opening fixture, Ireland turned up on St Patrick’s Day in Kingston, Jamaica, to see a green pitch for their match against Pakistan, and a sea of green in the crowd as thousands of Irish fans took over the Sabina Park ground.
Ireland won by three wickets but the joy in defeating Pakistan — as well as Bangladesh — in 2007 was as nothing compared to four years later when England were beaten in a World Cup match in Bangalore.
Kevin O’Brien’s stunning 50-ball century — still the fastest-ever in a World Cup — proved decisive as Ireland chased down England’s 327 for a memorable win.—AFP