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Ireland must avoid Kenya's mistakes
Richard Sydenham | April 20, 2007 12:54 IST
The tournament debutants, whose 15-man squad contained 12 amateurs, qualified for the second round after a stunning win in the group stage against 1992 champions Pakistan.
Ireland later added another test side Bangladesh to their tally of victims. That success ensured they joined the elite list of 11 nations with a main one-day international ranking.
They must now ensure they do not repeat the failings of fellow non test-playing nation Kenya, who made the semi-finals in the 2003 World Cup but failed to build on that success.
Ireland must keep progressing, though the skipper is unsure of his own involvement.
"I'm not going to look too far ahead because I don't know what's going to be down the road as we've got a new coach coming in after the World Cup so he might want to wipe the old boys out and start afresh," skipper Trent Johnston, 33 on Sunday week, told reporters.
Johnston was referring to the possible change of direction that new coach Phil Simmons, the former West Indies player, might opt to take, as South African Adrian Birrell has now bowed out after a successful five-year tenure.
Ireland have nine games approaching in a competition against English county sides, a tri-series against West Indies and Holland, as well as an Intercontinental Cup final against Canada so plenty of cricket lies ahead.
Simmons should at least have no complaints over the attitude of the team he will be taking on, after they competed impressively with elite teams like England and South Africa, even though there were heavy losses to Australia and Sri Lanka.
Comments prior to the event from pundits such as former West Indies player Michael Holding that the lower-ranked nations had no place in cricket's most prestigious tournament, stirred the Irish to prove a point.
"I suppose those people are entitled to their opinions but it was a large piece of our motivation to come here and do something special," Johnston said. "We did that."
One of Ireland's greatest challenges is to increase the pool of players to choose from in the country, especially with so many of their top players seeking professional careers in England. Their performances at the World Cup at least generated interest.
"I've heard that there are guys down in hurling country now picking up cricket bats and wondering what it's all about," Johnston added. "The coverage of these games is only going to drive them on more."
The seven-week World Cup, the first to be held in the Caribbean, culminates with the final in Barbados on April 28.
The Cup: The Complete Coverage
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