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A Crude Mix of Excitement and Pessimism

A Crude Mix of Excitement and Pessimism

Like every other Irish cricket fan, us beating Pakistan on St Patrick’s Day four years ago was the highlight of my cricket-following life. Even when I see the footage now I struggle to believe it’s actually going to happen. I’m still thinking, “ha, it’s starting to get a bit hairy for Pakistan” or “we’re putting up a decent show here”. Actually winning wasn’t even a possibility until Trent Johnston hit the final six, which I was sure would fly down a fielder’s throat.

Four years on, the prospects of an Irish upset aren’t great. The format of the tournament gives us quite a few bites at the cookie but our performances on subcontinental pitches have been atrocious for the past four years, even against other Associates. The tactics that brought down Pakistan four years ago, and which we’ve used effectively on many occasions since, are ill-suited to decks which give a big advantage to the side with the best, most aggressive batsmen. Worries over conditions likely to work against us are compounded by the fact that, for perhaps the first time, no one’s going to make the mistake of taking us too lightly. Ireland have expectations to deal with now. This is Irish cricket’s biggest test yet, and it’s not one I’m at all confident about. Why couldn’t they have just held the tournament in England?

I’m desperately excited nevertheless. The prospect of a repeat of 2007, however unlikely I think it is, will most definitely be enough to have me up before dawn on the morning of each of their matches to cheer them on from the other side of the world. The voice in my mind that says, “we won’t do it” is hopelessly overpowered by the voice saying “but what if we do.” It’s a strange feeling to say the least, looking forward with such eagerness to an event I’m almost certain won’t happen.

When I was growing up, I never understood why the English always got so excited about the Ashes. They always got crushed. And not only that, but everyone always knew they were going to get crushed well in advance. But every time it rolled around, anyone in England with even a passing interest in cricket turned into the proverbial four-year-old on Christmas Eve in anticipation.

I thought I understood why by the end of the 2005 Ashes, but I’m only really getting it now.

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