The Clarence Hiles Column
Ireland impress Sir Everton Weekes
IRELAND’S WIN NO SHOCK IN BARBADOSThe Clarence Hiles Column: Previous Articles
Although most of the international cricket media reported Ireland’s win over the West Indies as a shock result this was not the case in Barbados. From the man in the street to elder statesman Sir Everton Weekes there is widespread recognition that Ireland is a formidable opponent these days and competes on the same level.
When asked if the Ireland result was a shock Sir Everton was quick to say otherwise and his views are based on a good working knowledge of the Ireland setup over the past decade;
“They played well and with confidence and you don’t get that against a test country if you don’t believe in your own ability. Ireland bowl and field well, better than the West Indies these days, so it all came down to batting and on the day the Irish batting was excellent. You expect to win when you score over 300, but the Ireland batsmen batted really well in reply and fully deserved their win. The better team won on the day.”
And the same opinion was endorsed by the proverbial man in the street. It is no secret these days that support for the regional team is at an all-time low in Barbados and there is a certain resignation about West Indies cricket management and the playing performances that reflect a different culture than in the great days of West Indian cricket supremacy. Crowds at Kensington Oval test matches and ODIs have dropped significantly in the past decade with Twenty20 cricket much more popular.
Local cricket enthusiast Carl Nairtram summed it up when he said;
“We don’t expect West Indies team to do well because they have been so inconsistent over many years and the attitude of some of the players is poor. The Ireland result was no major surprise as they are a coming cricket nation and have already caught up with the West Indies. Support for our team has dwindled a lot in recent times and as a result the passion for the game is not the same as it was.”
One man who has closely followed Ireland’s climb up the international cricket ladder is former North-West professional Henderson Wallace, who is still heavily involved in the game as Chairman of the Barbados selectors and a popular and highly respected TV cricket analyst. “Big Hendy” has watched the Ireland team’s progress with great interest over three decades and at the same time witnessed the West Indies team flatter to deceive.
“This was a fantastic result for Ireland. I am on record as saying this was a match where I expected Ireland to do well as the New Zealand conditions are similar to Ireland so it wasn’t a shock for me. The Ireland team is now a formidable opponent for any test country and their batsmen are a lot more competent dealing with short-pitched bowling, which some of the top teams feel is their major strength. On the day it was obvious the West Indies bowling set-up was not right, but it all came down to batting and the Ireland batsmen were up for the task. It was a great performance.”
The other story concerning Ireland Coach Phil Simmons’s possible switch to the West Indies role is a non-event in Barbados, as nobody is looking that far down the line. Both Sir Everton and Hendy feel the former Trinidad all-rounder has the credentials, but much depends on his personal objectives and ambitions. They also threw some caution on the speculation as they feel anyone taking on the role of West Indies Coach would face formidable challenges with this squad and for a West Indian the added challenge of doing it within his own kingdom. Not an easy task in a region full of diversity, parochialism and self-interest.
It is also widely felt this must be a minor distraction for Phil Simmons when his focus is clearly with Ireland and everyone feels he’s doing a good job at it.
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