Afghans claim deserved victory as Fightin’ Irish grab glory from jaws of ignominy and gallant Dutch bow out

by coverpoint

February 2010.

Ireland have emphatically managed to turn around their tour in the last four days to reach their second Twenty20 World Cup Finals.

Today in Dubai they crushed The Netherlands by 65 runs in their semi-final showdown to reach the World Cup which will be staged in the Caribbean from April 30 to May 16.

What will please the Coach Phil Simmons is the fighting spirit that the squad showed and the extent to which all of the team made significant contributions including, perhaps most pleasing of all, newcomer George Dockrell. Once they got their bit between their teeth as they did by crushing USA on Wednesday Ireland were always going to be difficult to stop.

The coach and team showed the ability to adapt to changing circumstances which will please the Irish support.

Ahead of the World Cup however there will be a need to bolster the squad and the batting form of Andre Botha and Kevin O'Brien are still causes for concern. Hopefully Boyd Rankin will be fit.

In the other semi-final Afghanistan recovered from yesterday's defeat at the hands of The Netherlands to easily defeat the UAE to reach their first World Cup finals.

In the final the Afghans impressively defeated Ireland by 8 wickets - congratulations Afghanistan - a remarkable story!

As winners, Afghanistan progress to Group C of the World Cup where they will meet South Africa and India.

Though Ireland will be disappointed not to have beaten their new arch-rivals,  they won't be dissatisfied to be going into Group D to join hosts West Indies and England.

The emergence of Afghanistan is a huge positive for the Associate game. They are quickly developing into a nation to be reckoned with and are already producing quality players such as Hamid Hassan and Mohammed Nabi. The Afghans should help push Ireland onto a new level - there have been plenty of signs on the early part of this tour of complacency in the Irish team management's thinking.

A quality Irish and Afghan side is then a double headache for the ICC and should force them more quickly to find a fairer mechanism to build a more genuinely global sport.    

A word for the gallant and spirited Dutch side. It is of course a disgrace that only two Associate nations are allowed to compete in the World Cup. The team that defeated England at Lord's less than a year ago in such a thrilling fashion has no place at the 2010 World Cup.  Players such as Ryan Ten Doeschate would grace any such tournament. The tournament will be a lesser one for their absence. Hopefully the Afghans and Irish can represent the Associates well in the West Indies.

All in all, another landmark achievement for Irish cricket.

Congratulations to the team and all at Cricket Ireland!


                                                Liam Rooney


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