Ireland hit back at 'mercenary' claims

Long-serving Kyle McCallan has been angered by suggestions Ireland’s World Cup success is down to imported players.

Long-serving Kyle McCallan has been angered by suggestions Ireland’s World Cup success is down to imported players.

Ireland are led into today’s Super Eight clash with England at Providence Stadium by their Australia-born captain Trent Johnston.

Two other Aussies Jeremy Bray and Dave Langford-Smith and South African Andre Botha are also key performers.

However, vice-captain McCallan believes the fact they are ingrained in the Irish cricket system, which has produced the likes of Ed Joyce, is the most important factor.

“We miss Trent Johnston when he doesn’t play for us but I would imagine England would miss Kevin Pietersen if he didn’t play for them,” McCallan said.

“There is no difference there whatsoever. We beat Pakistan fairly and squarely, Niall O’Brien scored 72 and Boyd Rankin took three for 30 – they’re two born-and-bred Irishmen. We have eight players here who have represented Ireland at Under-19 World Cups.

“Trent married an Irish girl and has two Irish kids, Jeremy Bray has lived in Ireland for as long as I can remember, as has Andre Botha. These guys are not mercenaries who have flown in to play in the World Cup.

“These are guys who have contributed to Irish cricket for a prolonged period of time and hopefully whose kids in time will come out and contribute to Irish cricket.

“People are welcome to their own opinions but in a small way it motivates us even more, particularly the guys born and bred in Ireland, to show we can compete at this level and I think so far we have done during the course of this tournament.”

Ireland stunned 1992 World Cup winners Pakistan to reach the Super Eight stage, the kind of result which has made the other Test nations wary of becoming scalp number two.

Despite being hosted on the South American continent, today’s contest has a feel of an old NatWest Trophy fixture, where a slow pitch and potential wet weather even up the teams.

Although McCallan does not necessarily view it that way given the Irish performances in the Caribbean competition to date.

“A couple of years ago when counties came to play Ireland in domestic competitions we probably took advantage of being taken lightly,” said McCallan.

“But the surprise factor has now well and truly gone and deservedly so. We are certainly going out to play our game and try to earn as much respect among the cricketing world as we possibly can.

“If we give 100% we will come out, win, lose or draw with our heads held high.

“We have made it very clear we are coming into the Super Eight not to finish eighth. We are intent on competing and trying to cause an upset or two of we possibly can.

“But if we are realistic England are a world-class team, they proved that with the way they came back in Australia during the Commonwealth Bank series.”

England have been swotting up on their opponents with the use of video analysis, not that Ireland will need to do much research themselves.

“I have spoken to Ed Joyce and he has given us all their details!” joked McCallan.

Johnston (shoulder) and Langford-Smith (back spasms) were expected to be passed fit to play in a full-strength Irish XI.

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