Coming home from the World Cup last Tuesday, was difficult. We felt like we deserved to be there for at least one more week.
Going into the tournament we thought that three wins out of six would have been good enough to get us to a quarter final spot. To be honest I think the cricket we played throughout was, on a whole, better than that of the West Indies but they probably had that cutting edge at times that we didnít.
Iím thinking mainly of the spell of bowling from Jerome Taylor that ripped through the Pakistan top order. Or the double hundred by Chris Gayle against Zimbabwe. That was something that actually hurt us quite badly because it allowed their run rate to climb quite nicely.
All told though, I think we can be proud of our efforts Down Under. We seemed to win the hearts of many an Australian and the support we had from Irish folk both back home and at the grounds was second to none. It really did make each and every one of us so proud to be representing the nation.
The next period of two or three years is an incredibly important one for the future of Irish Cricket. We have seen that there is a market for our sport in this country now. We have seen how fans of sport and other sports people have jumped on the bandwagon. This only matters if we can get the games to give our players the opportunity to get better. There is a real opportunity to grow the sport and see what we could be become.
We have seen how far the Rugby team has come in the last 20 years. Well thatís not to dissimilar to where we are now. They always had potential, they always had good players but with the correct investment they have flourished.
Thatís why my point about the market for the sport in this county is such an important one. Rugby has always had a massive fan base, north and south of the border. So what changed? Why are our boys now one of the best teams in the world. It had to be when it turned professional and the bar got raised.
With the right guidance both from Cricket Ireland executives and from the ICC we can, in the future become a force in International cricket. We arenít world beaters-we donít claim to be but to be able to lay the foundations for future Irish Cricketers to be world beaters, well that would sit well.
In the last few days we have come to the end of an era. Those words are often used but its apt. Phil Simmons has left to coach his native West Indies and no one can blame him for wanting to take that job, tough as it will be.
Simmo has overseen the most successful period ever in Irish cricket and whilst he has had probably the most talented squad ever that is an achievement he can be proude of. One of his big assets is that despite his laid back nature he is not one for letting anyone rest on their laurels and he instilled a discipline within the senior mens squad will take forward with them for many years to come.
He is a man of few words but when you work with him he has some great insights into batting. The onus is on the player how much he wants to tap in to that knowledge, after all it is our careers. With an amazing capability to be able to read opposition players technique within a few balls we will miss that tactical side of his coaching as well. The big man will be missed and who ever comes in has big shoes to fill.
A word too for big Roy. He has been an ever present since my first capÖ even more so than Phil. I have shared so many good times with Roy and have no doubt that we will share many more as he now becomes part of the the blazer crowd.
He has promised to still follow us around but now it will be as a supporter. I would dread to be the person sitting beside him on those trips - he writes us off with less than 10 overs gone in the first innings half the time.
Roy has Irish Cricket running through his veins and I know he will miss being involved so much but it is a retirement that is thoroughly deserved. Not only has he given up so much of his time but his own money and plenty of sweat and tears have probably gone in to it over the years as well!
The two guys should rightly go down as legends of the game in Irish Cricket.