The Dream is Over
Wednesday April 25, 2007
After 8 weeks away from home, we've finally arrived back in Ireland - indeed I've only spent 11 days in the country since the New Year. We've been in 11 different countries in that time, and travelled over 80, 000 miles. Last time I looked I had no fewer than 8 different currencies in my wallet - don't think there's much chance of spending Guyanese dollars in the Fir Trees!
Our campaign ended with a bit of a whimper, but by that stage there was absolutely nothing left in the tank. I don't think we appreciated just how much effort that victory over Bangladesh took out of us. Still it was a great opportunity to face Muralitharan at close quarters, and despite all the video analysis, we still didn't have a clue. That's no disgrace, as we chatted with New Zealanders and South Africans, and they didn't have a notion either. Boyd Rankin and Dave Langford-Smith had the best idea - go down the wicket and swing. It seems the best policy in the circumstances.
Still we finished 8th in the tournament, and are now rated 10th in the Official LG ODI rankings. That achievement has really pleased our departing coach Adrian Birrell, who when he took over, saw us in 18th place, rated below Denmark after a disastrous ICC Trophy in 2001.
It's been a wonderful time to be involved with Irish cricket, and in Adrian Birrell, we've been fortunate to have a superb coach and motivator. A great tactician, he became known as Mr 1%, with no stone being left unturned in his quest to improve the team.
Paul Mooney has also called it a day, and what a servant he's been to Irish cricket. A true competitor, with a never say die spirit. he lived and breathed Irish cricket, and it'll not be the same without his presence in the changing room. Trent Johnston has taken up a role as Railway Union Cricket Development Officer, but will continue to play international cricket for the time being.
I'm not sure yet where my destiny lies. I'd considered quitting, but will wait and see if I figure in Phil Simmon's plans. I still feel I have something to offer, but maybe he will want to go for youth. It’s been a great career for me, and I’ve traveled all around the world and made some lifelong friendships through the wonderful sport of cricket.
There’s a lesson in life to be learnt with what Ireland has achieved in the Caribbean. It’s not just talent that counts – you’ve got to back it up with hard work, effort and it helps if you have a team spirit. The squad had all that in abundance, and we enjoyed ourselves. We were determined to play with a smile on our faces and create a lasting impression. We’ve won new admirers everywhere with our brand of cricket – even Duncan Fletcher commented in an England team meeting that they should be showing the enthusiasm of the Irish.
I’d recommend the sport of cricket to all youngsters, and hopefully with the Irish presence now on the world stage there will be even more chances to visit far and wide. In addition to playing India, West Indies and South Africa this summer, there are plans for an overseas tour in the winter to either New Zealand or Australia.
Thanks to everyone for their feedback to my column – your positive comments are much appreciated. I’d like to thank the paper for giving me the opportunity to air my views. It’s one area I’d like to go into when my career draws to a close – hopefully not just yet.
I must admit that I’m looking forward to seeing all my family and friends again. There is a new pitch and clubhouse at Strabane, and by all accounts it’s already looking a belter of a track. Hopefully, I’ll get a few runs on it.
I’d like to say thanks to my brother Michael who has supported me all through my career, and he has been a rock of inspiration to me, and my final words of thanks go to my wife Ciara, for her never ending patience and commitment to me – it hasn’t been easy being the wife of a cricketing nomad, but she’s stuck by me, and I thank my blessings every day.