CricketEurope's Team of the ICC World Cup Qualifying Tournament
As has become traditional on these occasions, CricketEurope's team on the spot met at the end of the ICC World Cup qualifier to pick a Team of the Tournament.
In a competition in which conditions generally favoured the batsmen, there were lots of contenders for a place in the top order.
For the opening combination it was impossible to go past the prolific Irish skipper William Porterfield, who also captains our side, and The Netherlands' Alexei Kervezee. They made 515 at an average of 57.22 and 461 at 51.22 respectively, and were named as the two near-misses for the ICC's overall Player of the Tournament award.
This means passing over the competition's overall leading runscorer, Bermuda's David Hemp, who made 557 at 185.67, but whose runs mainly came in the closing stages, against the weaker sides. Other openers who came into consideration were Afghanistan's Karim Khan, Scotland's Gavin Hamilton, and John Davison of Canada, who made 233 in five matches at 46.60 before he was forced to drop out through injury.
The Irish batting line-up was far and away the most powerful in the tournament, and we've gone for Eoin Morgan and the brothers Niall and Kevin O'Brien as numbers three to five in the batting. Niall, obviously, also takes the wicketkeeping berth, ahead of Canada's Ash Bagai and The Netherlands' Jeroen Smits, who had the largest number of victims with 18 catches and a stumping.
The specialist batsmen are completed by the inclusion of Neil McCallum of Scotland, whose 452 runs at 56.50 included three vital centuries; what would have happened to the Scots in the group phase had he not played those knocks scarcely bears thinking about.
Upper and middle order batsmen who staked a strong claim for inclusion were, apart from Bagai, Kyle Coetzer of Scotland, Ryan ten Doeschate of The Netherlands, Nowroz Mangal of Afghanistan, Saqib Ali of the UAE, and Bas Zuiderent of The Netherlands.
Our two allrounders are Mohammad Nabi of Afghanistan, a classy batsman who picked up 10 wickets with his off-spin, and Gerrie Snyman of Namibia, with 338 runs at 37.56 and 13 wickets at 26.54.
Apart from Krugersdorp, the pitches in South Africa were hardly encouraging for spinners, and it's not surprising that it was hard to find slow bowlers who made much impression: two exceptions who deserves a mention are Rodney Trott of Bermuda, who took 14 wickets at a highly creditable average of 17.29, and Regan West, with 14 for Ireland at 22.93.
That leaves the seamers, and we've gone for Player of the Tournament Edgar Schiferli (The Netherlands), who broke the tournament record with 24 wickets at 17.38 and also contributed valuable runs on occasion, Ireland's Boyd Rankin (15 at 20.40), and Afghanistan's Hamid Hassan (18 at 22.22).
Again, there were several players who came into contention, including Lameck Onyango of Kenya, Rankin's opening partner Peter Connell, John Blain of Scotland (who claimed 17 victims at 20.18 in seven matches after coming back from injury), Louis Klazinga of Namibia, and, bowling at a more modest pace, Craig Wright of Scotland and Khurram Chauhan of Canada.
So our full side is:
William Porterfield (Ireland, captain)
Alexei Kervezee (The Netherlands)
Eoin Morgan (Ireland)
Niall O'Brien (Ireland, wicketkeeper)
Kevin O'Brien (Ireland)
Neil McCallum (Scotland)
Mohammad Nabi (Afghanistan)
Gerrie Snyman (Namibia)
Edgar Schiferli (The Netherlands)
Boyd Rankin (Ireland)
Hamid Hassan (Afghanistan)