There’s something about putting on the whites and a woollen cable-knit jumper with your country’s cricketing union logo. Eleven of the fifteen chosen Irishmen would realise that feeling as a long-awaited Test debut, that every Associate team would dream of, finally takes place as they take on Pakistan on Friday at Malahide Cricket Club.
Interestingly, it was their victory against the Asian side in the 2007 World Cup on St. Patrick’s Day that sparked off a new cricketing era in Irish cricket.
Irish captain, William Porterfield, believes that the conditions are far more suitable for Ireland than they would be for Pakistan. He hopes that the International and County Championship experience helps his players. While Porterfield, Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie, Boyd Rankin, Gary Wilson, the O’Brien brothers, Ed Joyce and Tim Murtagh are definite starters in the playing XI but they also hold the key to a good show as they have immense County Championship experience under their belt.
For the likes of Andrew McBrine, James Shannon, Stuart Thompson, Tyrone Kane and Nathan Smith, it is a reward for consistent performances after a hard toil in the Irish domestic arena apart from some on and off International appearances.
Although Ireland couldn’t win the Intercontinental Cup this year, they finished second behind Afghanistan and finished as the most successful team in the history of the tournament with four titles in 2005, 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2011-13. Porterfield and Joyce were involved in a mammoth 326 run partnership versus Namibia in a 2015 Intercontinental Cup fixture and start off not only as the most experienced batting pair but also will prove to be a lynchpin of the batting order.
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Some might say that Ireland had to wait for eleven months after gaining Test status to put eleven players on the field for their first Test but they have waited for a lot of years. Trent Johnston, former Irish International and leading wicket taker in the Intercontinental Cup for Ireland, said, “A lot of people have done a lot of hard work over the last 11 or 12 years to get to this stage, you know, players, coaches, administrative staff, volunteers. For all those people all over Ireland, it’s a celebration for them. And it’s a pat on the back to see where we’ve come to now.
“It’s going to be an exciting day on Friday and I can see another upset happening. Pakistan have come over with a very experienced team. There could be five or six guys who’re making their debut for them. So, I think we’ve a massive chance of winning these games in Malahide. If things do go our way, don’t be surprised if Ireland win this weekend.”
While glories don’t always have to come after beating a side, it also comes when hardwork and perseverance of a lot of years is recognised and rewarded. The fifteen Irishmen who will sing ‘Ireland’s Call’ before the match will not only represent their nation but also represent those whose time, energy and sweat helped them to achieve the Test status.
Come the day & Come the hour
Come the power & the glory
11 men will come to answer their country’s call…
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