Aussies will help Ireland to achieve goal
Robin Walsh (Sunday Life)
Ireland’s ambition to play as many as 15 internationals a year has been given a tick of approval by a leading official of the world’s foremost exponents of the one day game.
Geoff Allardice is General Manager Operations of Cricket Australia and he made no secret of his admiration for Irish cricket during a “recce” in Belfast for the game between the countries next month.
He tells me : “We are well aware of Cricket Ireland’s plan to organise more and more games against the Test countries. Obviously international schedules and commercialism have their part to play, but given a fair wind Australia will be more than happy to accommodate fixtures whenever possible.”
Allardice led a four-man delegation to give the “once over” to the arrangements for the ICC-ranked One Day International at Stormont on June 23.
The new team manager Gavin Dovey, until last year the Operations Manager of the England rugby team; security expert Sean Carroll and Players’ Association official, Peter Roach, all professed themselves happy - and that was before they had their eyes opened at the now obligatory tourist Mecca of the Titanic Quarter.
“We’ve had productive meetings”, says Allardice. “We’ve all been impressed with the facilities and arrangements seem to be well in hand.”
It will be an Australian side under new management from the one that left Dublin two years ago mighty relieved with a 39-run victory. At one stage Ireland’s openers William Porterfield and Paul Stirling had notched 80 in the first 10 overs chasing a total of 231.
There will be no Ricky Ponting who captained Australia on two visits to Ireland and who has now yielded the leadership to Michael Clarke. And in comes a new coach in Mickey Arthur, the South African who, ironically, had applied for the Irish job when his fellow countryman Adrian Birrell was appointed back in 2002.
Says Allardice : “The last meeting in Dublin was a close affair and we are preparing for nothing less this time round. Gone are the days when we could take these games for granted.
“World rankings and individual averages are at stake so there will be everything to play for. In addition, five one-day games will lie ahead in England and all our players will have an eye on their places.
“The game is also given an extra dimension with the two countries meeting in the ICC World Twenty20 tournament in Sri Lanka in September. It may be a different format but the significance will not be lost on either side.”
And none of this should be lost on a cricket fraternity north and south of the border.
Nothing less is deserved for a game between the world’s current number one and an Irish side making its first appearance since its memorable victory in the Twenty20 qualifying tournament in the United Arab Emirates.