The phone rang and rang next to my ear. Whoever it was at what seemed to me an ungodly hour wasn’t giving up. I reached from my drunken slumber and answered haltingly.

“Just who the f*** do you think you are? How dare you treat me like that. You are nothing but a ****.”

It wasn’t the President of my fan club on the other end of the line. I then made a fatal mistake. With alcohol still running through my veins, instead of keeping quiet and letting the torrent of abuse run its course, I laughed!

That of course added fuel to the flames – what followed was a mixture of Anglo Saxon swear words and threats of what would happen to my vital bits if she ever crossed my path again.

It was of course a now ex-girlfriend who I had let down. One or two beers had become double figures and switching off the phone I had let her down rather than letting her know.

Relating this later to a friend, he said “Well, at least she cares.”

That thought came into my mind when I read the fans’ various comments on the abject displays in the ODIs this week. 

Irish fans are on the main very supportive and indeed realistic. Few would have expected them to win the series, but the margin and just how one-sided the games were will have given coaches, players and supporters a harsh dose of reality.

The T20I series beings tomorrow (MON) and it’s going to be tough. The hosts whitewashed England (albeit missing quite a few first choice starters) 3-0 a few weeks ago.

You can’t help but admire the Bangladesh squad at present. They look to have all bases covered and their fast-bowling stock looks very full and varied.

Ireland have shown over the years that they have the happy trait of bouncing back, and you’d be hopeful there is one big performance in the drawer.


Player and staff rotation have been in the Irish news this past few weeks, and as I sat down to write this, it filtered through that skipper Andrew Balbirnie would be rested/rotated from the squad for the T20I series, with Paul Stirling taking over at the helm this coming week.

I’ve noticed in quite a few articles recently that Ireland are saying just how ‘busy’ they are or will be, so I thought I would take a look at the numbers and see how we compare to the other Full Members. 

I opted to look back from January 2021, which is 815 days and 27 months’ approximately.

Counting Tests was easy – we haven’t played any for almost four years, but of course that will be remedied over the next few months.

In that time England have played 32 Tests, India 25, West Indies and Australia 21 apiece; South Africa 20; New Zealand, Pakistan and Sri Lanka 19 each; Bangladesh 17; Zimbabwe 7; Afghanistan 2.

We all know the reasons given for not playing Tests – finance, lack of a stadium, concentrating on white-ball formats. But when you see how Bangladesh have developed, you can’t help but feel envious of the cricketing exposure their players have gotten.

The World Cup Super League competition has ensured that Ireland has gotten its fair share of ODI’s. They have played 26 in the timeframe, winning 7, losing 15 and 4 No-Results. 

That puts them joint 8th in terms of fixtures in the format, with the list showing India first (39), followed by Bangladesh (33), West Indies (32), Sri Lanka (30), England (27), South Africa (27), Zimbabwe (27), Ireland/New Zealand (26), Australia (23), Pakistan (15) and Afghanistan (15).

Ireland’s early exit from the 2021 T20 World Cup to Namibia saw a switch of emphasis to more 20 overs cricket last year, and this certainly paid dividends with qualification to the Super phase in Australia, and of course the win against the eventual world champions England.

We played 46 T20I’s in the 27 months, with the 27 in 2022 only bettered by India. There were 18 wins and 28 losses in those, with again Ireland placed 8th in terms of games played.

The list in order of matches played is India (62), Pakistan (56), Bangladesh (51), West Indies (50), New Zealand/Sri Lanka (48), England (47), Ireland (46), Zimbabwe (44), Australia (43), South Africa (42), and Afghanistan (30).

In terms of international days spent playing, the countries have spent the following number on the field in the 815 day/27 months period.

England 234
India 226
West Indies 187
Sri Lanka 173
Australia 171
Bangladesh 169
New Zealand 169
South Africa 169
Pakistan 166
Zimbabwe 106
Ireland 72
Afghanistan 55

It should be noted also that Ireland have the least challenging domestic calendar of all 12 Full Members. Their schedule at the minute consisting of only four teams playing a 50 overs and a T20 competition, with no red-ball cricket whatsoever.

The Ireland A/Wolves team hasn’t played in a year, and there are no fixtures scheduled for the summer.

Some players have been fortunate enough to get T20 gigs in other countries, and Ireland have been accommodating in allow them to earn as much as they can, in what is a relatively short career.

In truth there is little they can do. If they had decided to withhold a No-Objection-Certificate (NOC) from Josh Little, he would have simply retired from international cricket.

I suppose if I was enthusiastic I would do a deep dive into the stats for each of the bowling units for the Full Members and see how many overs each has since 2021. 

Call me Sherlock Holmes but I would guess ours have bowled considerably less than the other countries, yet seem to have had more injuries? Could that be related to the helter skelter nature of T20s rather than easing into their workloads and building up their bodies through extensive red-ball action?

I’m not a grumpy old man – “In my day we used to bowl 50 overs in a weekend..” – but I find it hard to fathom this rotation when the players are travelling business class, on decent contracts, staying in the best hotels with generous per diems for meals, and playing on average 3 days a month at international level since 2021.

I accept that it’s tough being away from family, but looking at the squad in Bangladesh, I think only one or maybe two are married, and not sure any have children yet? It’s different for the support staff who are invariably older. Not sure how many of them though would want to reduce their days/workload if it meant a subsequent drop in the value of their contracts. But some may quite like the idea of a jobshare with half their money for half their work and more time with loved ones.

They aren’t being asked to fight at the Somme – trips away can be hard, but the current one is the exception to the rule. Not since the 2015 World Cup has there been anything similar. I can assure all that the ordinary world is a lot tougher than the cricketing one.