Ireland Learning Their Place

As they move to the European Regional T20 qualifiers, the Irish men's side learn where they stand.

Ireland's Curtis Campher plays a shot during the third and final one-day international (ODI) cricket match between Bangladesh and Ireland at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium in Sylhet on March 23, 2023. (Photo by Munir uz ZAMAN / AFP) (Photo by MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

According to the ICC ODI Rankings, that would be 13th place behind Scotland and Zimbabwe. Just above Nepal and the Netherlands, with Afghanistan way ahead in 9th.

Of the teams that hadn’t automatically qualified for the 2023 Cricket World Cup that would be seventh – behind Sri Lanka, the Netherlands, Scotland, Zimbabwe, the West Indies and finally Oman in sixth place.

As a Full Member there is the embarrassment in not qualifying for ODI World Cups. But that’s also the nature and tragedy of the ten-team tournament. Someone had to miss out. And it was an incredibly hard fought tournament that showcased all the very best One Day International cricket as a format.

Of all the teams that didn’t qualify, you could make a case for Zimbabwe and Scotland. They played exceptionally throughout. However Irish cricket might just be reflecting on their place in the global pecking order.

Ireland are currently ranked 12th in the ICC T20 rankings. Just behind Afghanistan and Zimbabwe. Just ahead of Namibia, Scotland and the Netherlands. But they only tell some of the story.

In the case of the ODI World Cup Qualifier, the field certainly has never felt tighter. Ranking, history, or being a full member doesn’t guarantee anything. Plus things can change very quickly. T20 is also the format with the most amount of chaos.

Many of this Irish playing group will remember their success in Australia at the 2022 T20 World Cup, and their incredible run beating England while pushing others.

In his first press conference as white ball captain Paul Stirling reflected on recreating that magic which cricket followers have almost come to expect from Ireland: “Getting the taste of that success in Australia was really important… doing it on the world stage has sort of evaded us for a number of years, and it’s something you forget how good it feels for everyone: the players, supporters, the organisation.”

Ireland should really qualify for the 2024 T20 World Cup. Especially considering the group of teams in their European regional qualifying group: Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Jersey and Scotland. And especially considering the two qualifying places on offer.

However things don’t always go to plan. Weather sometimes intervenes. Then throw in the disorder of T20, plus teams they mightn’t be immediately familiar with.

Kevin O’Brien as assistant coach of Italy seemingly used all his knowledge and acumen in regards to Ireland, making for a fascinating first clash. As for Ireland, who did enough to negotiate the Italians meanwhile, need to be deadly sure of their plans and their options in the days ahead.

Ireland squad: Paul Stirling (Capt), Mark Adair, Ross Adair, Andrew Balbirnie, Curtis Campher, George Dockrell, Graham Hume, Josh Little, Barry McCarthy, Neil Rock, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Theo van Woerkom, Ben White, Craig Young.

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