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Ireland behind the eight ball

Posted in npower Ashes Series 2009

Will Porterfield

William Porterfeild's side have unexpectedly reached another Super Eights stage

For the second time in little over two years, Ireland have gatecrashed international cricket’s elite party.

Having upset a Test-playing nation in the group stage of another world competition, they have an invitation to dine a cricket’s top table.

William Porterfield’s side sprung a surprise six-wicket win over a highly talented, if ill-disciplined, Bangladesh at Trent Bridge on Monday.

However, it was not a shock in Irish eyes. After all, they saw off the Tigers at the 50-over World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007.

That was in the Super Eight after Ireland had claimed their most famous scalp, Pakistan in the group stage.

Today, the bandwagon rolled back into Trent Bridge, less than 24 hours after an eight-wicket dead-rubber defeat to defending champions India.

A smaller Irish presence in the crowd than earlier in the week reflected the team’s unexpected progress to this stage.

Those present had little to cheer early on as the Black Caps batsmen made hay in bright but blustery conditions.

Opener Aaron Redmond, not in New Zealand’s squad until this morning, took a particular liking to length bowling. Jesse Ryder’s injury replacement stormed to fifty in 23 balls.

That summed up the enormity of the task facing Ireland, with Sri Lanka and Pakistan to come next week.

Aaron Redmond

Aaron Redmond's 23-ball fifty showed Ireland what they are up against in the Super Eights of the ICC World Twenty20

Should Ireland head home without another win, they will still take valuable lessons with them.

Their presence at this stage of the competition is a reminder of their status as the premier Associate nation.

Judging by the majority of the Nottingham crowd’s reaction to New Zealand’s wickets - the men in green are real crowd-pleasers.

Featuring in the other Super Eight group to England, the home supporters still have two teams to cheer on.

Today this added to a carnival atmosphere, and a sense of anticipation for the second game - pitting the hosts against in-form South Africa.

The DJ greeted each boundary and wicket with crowd-pleasing tunes as the sponsor’s dancers – male and female – moved to the beat.

Like it or not, this facet of Twenty20 seems here to stay.

Hopefully the high-pitched shriek to mark each bowling change - no doubt already familiar to spectators, TV viewers and radio listeners - is not.

With some captains choosing to regularly rotate their bowlers, we have already too much of a ‘good’ thing.

That is a sole gripe, but a pertinent one, especially perched above the DJ stand in the overflow media seats.

Even during this global financial crisis, the World Twenty20 has drawn more journalists than expected.

So much so, spacious press boxes – such as at Trent Bridge – have been oversubscribed.

Even without a view from behind the bowler’s arm, though, Nottinghamshire’s home is a fine site, especially drenched in sunshine.