The haves and have nots
I had a minor health scare during the recent T20 WWCQ in Thailand, waking up in the early hours with chest pains, shortness of breath, and my throat almost completely closed.
Within five minutes I was at the nearby hospital – which required a double-take as I thought I’d been wrongly transferred to a high-end department store.
If Carlsberg did hospitals, then this was it. Pristine clean with loads of polished marble, an army of Florence Nightingales in white starched uniforms and hardly a patient in sight.
I was seen immediately in the emergency room, then transferred upstairs to a specialist who diagnosed and treated me for laryngitis, brought on by a chest infection, coupled with the effects of air conditioning, smog, spicy food, shouting, drinking, and snoring.
He assured me I would be cured within five days by a cocktail of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, a stress-free environment, and no straining of the vocal chords.
It was of course a private hospital and I was covered by travel insurance – the have nots aren’t so fortunate. A friend’s brother recently required heart surgery – the cost US$12,000 – he didn’t have the funds and the surgery didn’t proceed.
It’s a similar story is unfolding in world cricket at the minute with the Full Members awash with funds - particularly the Big Three who have more money than sense - while the have-nots, Ireland included, are facing difficult decisions due to lack of finance.
Cricket Ireland CEO Warren Deutrom recently outlined the stark choices having to be made in the current difficult financial climate. Among them: Player contract increases or more development officers? Youth tournaments or an A tour abroad?
It rankles with me when I see how much is wasted by the Full Members and how much of a difference it would make in the cricketing development of not only Ireland, but a host of other less fortunate countries.
We’re seeing the dismantlement of many of the Regional cricket offices throughout the world and the good works that they carried out. There are less and less competitions now in the regions and less and less publicity for any cricket that actually manages to get played.
That was never more evident last week with the news that there would be no European Under 15 tournament in 2016 and that the U17 and U19 Regional Challenge Series were also under the “Damoclean Sword”.
The 10-team World Cup decision beggars belief. While other sports encourage growth and are in expansion mode - rugby union showing the way with its recent showpiece event - cricket is constricting, killing itself from within. It’s all down to greed and tv rights.
If television wants India to have a guaranteed amount of games – why not have a proper 16-team World Cup with India then taking on the winner in a best-of-however-many series similar to the old World Snooker Championships when Joe and Fred Davis, Horace Lindrum, Walter Donaldson and Clark McConachy would do battle over 145 frames.
It was a real pleasure following the fortunes of the Ireland Women during their successful qualification. I drew parallels with the Ireland men’s team which played in their first World Cup in the West Indies in 2007.
This was a team comprised of students – both at secondary school and university – as well as other occupations including a hockey coach, a management consultant and a solicitor.
I had a mental image of skipper Isobel Joyce going around the dressing room like Trent Johnston did during Ireland’s famous win over Pakistan roaring “Do you want to be effing back in Dublin on Monday studying maths?” etc.
The team did Ireland proud – playing to their strengths despite some very un-Ireland like conditions in terms of the climate.
The Girls in Green had clearly been well prepared. Six months of hard work gave them a lean and focussed look, with their fielding skills much improved since I last saw them - particularly the throwing. They bowled well, conceded very few extras and looked to have definite plans.
Congratulations to the support staff – there can’t be many quieter coaches than Aaron Hamilton and Alex Cusack – quiet yes, but efficient and effective.
Manager Sue O’Connor ( nee Kenealy) couldn’t have been more helpful, while physio Niamh Connolly continually prowled the boundary ropes keeping a close eye on her young charges.
The one area where improvement is needed is in the running between the wickets – both in terms of technique and calling. While Clare Shillington and Cecelia Joyce enjoyed a telepathic understanding borne out of years playing together, the rest of the line-up was hesitant and at times lumbering. I’ve no doubt it will be rectified come India in March.
My doctor’s instructions for a stress free environment and to rest my vocal chords went out the window during that dramatic final against Bangladesh (what a horrible team they were).
During a nervy run chase, a mix up saw two Irish batters in the middle of the pitch staring at each other – I bellowed “ Run, f**k ye, run!”
I managed to keep quiet during the rest of the game – even during the “Mankading Incident” – but let a roar of unbridled delight when 16 year-old Lucy O’Reilly belted the winning runs off the last ball.
I’ve no doubt that Ireland Women could take their game to the next level given proper investment. However, much like the “have nots” in the world of the Thai medical system, I fear that they too will be left to ponder on what might have been given the financial gulf between them and the Full Members.