In all those years of success following that incredible 2007 World Cup win over Pakistan, there was a sense that the Irish sporting public couldn’t quite get their head around the fact they had a cricket team that was taking on and beating the best teams in the world.
When Cricket South Africa announced last November that they had invited Ireland to play two one-day internationals in Benoni ahead of their series against Australia in September 2016, there was some quiet jubilation in Irish cricketing circles.
When Ireland attempt to make it three wins from three Cricket World Cup games against South Africa in the early hours of tomorrow morning (3.30am Irish time), they will come across a man who did much to lift Ireland to their position today.
When Ireland take the field against the West Indies in their first match of the 2015 ICC World Cup in New Zealand on Monday (Sunday, 10pm Irish time), they will be cheered on by more than the handful of green onesied or leprechaun-costumed travelling fans in the 5,000 crowd at the Saxton Oval, Nelson.
Ireland captain William Porterfield has accused the International Cricket Council of endangering the integrity of the World Cup as well as damaging the development of the game worldwide after it was decided the 2015 World Cup would be closed to associate members.