I suppose it’s a sign of getting older that I moaned about the quality of television programmes on offer over the Christmas period. I found myself drawn to the ‘golden oldies’ and there was a Morecambe and Wise special which featured their famous sketch with Andre Previn or Mr Preview as Eric kept referring to him.

Now, I must have seen this one at least 20 times but it never fails to make me laugh and smile.
“You’re playing all the wrong notes,” cries an increasingly exasperated Previn.

Grabbing him by the collar, Eric retorts, “I’m playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order..I’ll give you that sunshine..”

I thought of that again when looking back at the Ireland Men fixtures for 2023. There was little wrong with the volume of matches played – 40 – but the problem was the order they played them in.

To play a Test at Lord’s while other teams were acclimatizing and playing 50-overs cricket to prepare for the World Cup Qualifier was simply asking for trouble, and it was no surprise that the campaign ended before it got off the ground.

I can understand that it would have been near impossible to turn down the ECB offer but missing out on a World Cup in India was a huge blow and it could well be the one and only chance some of the current squad would have to play in such a tournament.


Staying with the tv theme, BBC Four are showing re-runs of the political comic masterpiece from the 80s, Yes, Minister with Nigel Hawthorne, Paul Eddington, and Derek Fowlds all superb.
It’s as relevant today as it was 40 years ago, perhaps even more so.

When something goes awry and one of them are to blame they look worried, until the decision is made to hold an inquiry, or even better an internal inquiry.

There was little fall-out from the shambles of the World Cup Qualifier, with Andy Balbirnie’s resignation as white-ball captain, but staying as Test captain the only, at this stage the only noticeable change.

Previous failed campaigns have brought expensive reviews, with the conclusions shelved, ignored or rewritten – the Birrell review anyone?

This time they opted for an internal review with former Chairman Ross McCollum. It was presented to the Board months ago, but nothing public emerged.

It was interesting to hear Heinrich Malan scathing criticism of Irish structures last month, so one would naturally guess that there are some changes planned.

Whether it is just a case of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic or something more meaningful, time will tell.

As it stands, it appears their strategy is to have more or less the bulk of the squad that failed to qualify in 2019 and 2023, and hope for better fortunes in 2027.

While qualifying tournaments are notoriously difficult to navigate, Ireland decided that it was a good time to try out an opener who hadn’t done so in his ten years in the side, and give a debut to a young spinner.

World Cup qualifiers are not the place for experimentation – it’s not rocket science.

I would also have questioned the decision to forego home advantage in the three matches in the original race to gain automatic qualification for the tournament. While it was always going to be a tough ask to beat Bangladesh 3-0, to make it a virtual home series for them was short-sighted. 
It was a sorry sight trying to spot an Irish supporter among the hordes of Bangladesh fans.


It was a memorable year in Irish club cricket with the mighty Ardmore winning a first Premiership title in their 144-year history.

Ireland Chairman of Selectors Andrew White took 43 wickets to inspire Instonians to the NCU crown, while YMCA staged a remarkable last day performance to snatch the title from Irish Cup winners Leinster.

You’d think the above would have seen some coverage from a governing body which has as one of its much loved slogans; ‘club cricket – at the heart of our game’
Alas, not.

Finally, well done to Arlene Kelly and Mark Adair who took the most wickets in a calendar year for their respective Ireland teams. Harry Tector came close to breaking Paul Stirling’s record tally too.

Here’s hoping that 2024 brings more records, success and who knows, maybe a Test win?