AS rookies in the international men’s Test cricket league, Ireland’s XI might have hoped for understrength opponents for their debut five-day contest in Dublin next May; the West Indies, currently, just aren’t cutting it.
But the Irish team can face the challenge with confidence, since Pakistan is not the force it once was. It was beaten by an Irish XI in a one-day match — on St Patrick’s Day — in 2007, and dedicated followers of what is a minority sport in this country will know that an English side was knocked out of a World Cup competition in Bangalore by the Irish in 2011. There is nothing, as any Aussie or Indian will declare, as enjoyable as beating the English at their own game.
At Test level, Ireland starts on a sticky wicket, thanks to lack of investment and popular support. But recognition at this order of the game will generate interest, cash for bringing on young players and, eventually, success. As for next May’s Test, well, the weather will be on our side. And cricket is the most watched game in the world, via the immense appeal of the IPL, so the exposure for Ireland, in a year when Mr Varadkar will visit the sub-continent, could be considerable.
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