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Column: Lip service to Irish cricket continues
27 Feb 2015 15:03
By John Kenny in Australia
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Ed Joyce is not a happy man.
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The 36-year-old Bray native played a starring role against the West Indies as Ireland secured another famous win at the Cricket World Cup.
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He was bowled by UAE’s Amjad Javed, but the bails failed to fall off the stumps in an incident that gained worldwide attention, before eventually being dismissed and watched Kevin O’Brien and Gary Wilson rescue Ireland and earn a second victory from as many matches.
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But it’s not just this year’s competition on Joyce’s mind. He is furious at the International Cricket Council, the governing body of the sport, with its decision to make qualification for the next competition so much trickier.
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The ICC, it seems, is not a friend of Ireland.
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Denied the chance to play the top-ranked Test-playing sides on a regular basis in One Day Internationals with just nine games in four years, Ireland are living off scraps from the top table.
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Now the ICC is under fire again for reducing the 2019 World Cup from 14 to 10 countries.
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Ireland will have to pre-qualify from a mini-tournament which will include Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and Afghanistan.
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That round-robin series will be held in the heat of Bangladesh.
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However, it’s not the only the frustration of perhaps missing out on qualifying in 2019 that has irked Joyce and Cricket Ireland.
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Outside of the World Cup, Ireland will play only two other top-class ODIs this year. England visit Dublin in May and Australia travel to Stormont in August. And that’s it.
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England now play Ireland every two years, and that is on the understanding that Ireland do not schedule games against other Test-playing nations while England host the world’s elite.
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That is because Warren Deutrom, Cricket Ireland’s CEO, annoyed the English Cricket Board by arranging a tri-nations tournament in Belfast in 2007 that brought in India and South Africa to Stormont and sold the rights to Indian and South African television.
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The ECB were not happy bunnies and let Deutrom know. The compromise? One game versus England every two years. India and South Africa have not returned to Ireland since 2007.
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But rubbing salt into the wounds, England then put Irishman Eoin Morgan in as captain for the last two encounters with his former country, and to make matters worse Morgan stated that he would like to see Irish opener Paul Stirling wearing “the three lions on his shirt” in the future.
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England are paying Ireland lip service and Cricket Ireland, it seems, should doff the cap and be grateful.
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Now the ICC wants to cut off the likes of Ireland and Afghanistan who have earned the right to sup from the cup of the top ranked nations and Joyce, veteran of three world campaigns (one with England in 2007), is livid.
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“I hate to say it, but this could be our last World Cup,” Joyce told the BBC recently.
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“We seem to be the only sport that has a World Cup that is contracting rather than expanding because it is going to be very difficult [to qualify] and with the qualifying tournament in Bangladesh, they are going to have a home advantage.
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"I wholeheartedly disagree with the reasons for that. I do not think it is the way a sport should be run, especially one that speaks about expanding and trying to get bigger.”
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Joyce has been on a mission in this World Cup and is looking to send a message to the ICC
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The message is that this Ireland team matter. With four group games to go, Joyce and his team-mates will try to force that point home and show that Ireland belong on the biggest stage again.
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