Ian Johnston, 13 May 2020
The World Cup of 2007 will for ever be remembered for the St Patrick’s Day win over Pakistan, but for some others the most important win was the Super Eight match versus Bangladesh at the Kensington Oval Barbados.
The match was, in the ICC’s great scheme of things, supposed to be India versus Pakistan but of course Ireland and Bangladesh hadn’t read the script.
The economy of Barbados suffered as countless Indian tour parties and business conferences were cancelled at short notice and the cynics among us would say that World Cups ever since have been designed to ensure that such an unthinkable situation could never arise again!
Following the defeat of Pakistan Richard Johnson, Brian Walsh and myself had jumped on a plane to Barbados in a hastily arranged trip to take in the matches versus Bangladesh and Australia and the night before the game found ourselves at a quiet dinner hosted by John Wright for officials of Sport Ireland and SportNI.
When discussion turned to Ireland’s prospects the next day John Wright astonished everyone by announcing that ICC Supremo Malcolm Speed had told him that the win against Pakistan wasn’t really enough, and that we needed to win against Bangladesh. No pressure then!
What followed was probably the most complete performance that Ireland could have produced, Porterfield (85) and Bray (31) put on 92 for the first wicket and Ireland finished 243 for 7.
Bangladesh were never allowed to get going and all five of the Irish bowlers took wickets in a 74 run win.
An invitation to the dressing room to join in the celebrations was gratefully accepted and didn’t we love it when we heard John Wright greet Malcom Speed with, “Happy now Malcolm?”
It was dark when the groundstaff announced that they were locking up and that we really would have to leave and although I was a selector at the time that didn’t entitle me to travel on the team bus which by that stage of the evening was the only transport available so I hastily became Manager Torrens’ bag carrier and climbed on board.
With a police escort clearing the way the bus was rocking on the way back through Bridgetown with Trent leading the ‘A Roo Cha Cha’ the whole way.
On arrival at the Hilton no one was allowed off until Ireland’s Call was completed and when we finally disembarked we found that we had been holding up the South African team bus that was seeking to park at the front door.
As our boys shouldered their bags into the lobby a team of porters was wheeling the South African kit alongside causing one of our guys to remark, “We obviously haven’t made it yet if we’re still carrying our own bags!”
The pic I took on the bus is special to me because firstly I shouldn’t really have been there to take it and because it gives a glimpse of the team spirit that squad had, not just in the moment of victory but in a shared cause.