Ireland slates plan to keep cricket team out of World Cup

Updated: 09 April 2011 10:04 IST

The Irish government promised full backing to their cricketers on Friday in efforts to overturn their removal from the next World Cup, slamming the decision as flying in the face of sportsmanship.

Ireland slates plan to keep cricket team out of World Cup

Dublin:

The Irish government promised full backing to their cricketers on Friday in efforts to overturn their removal from the next World Cup, slamming the decision as flying in the face of sportsmanship.

On Tuesday the International Cricket Council confirmed a decision to slash the 2015 and 2019 World Cups to just 10 teams in a move that was described by Cricket Ireland's chief executive Warren Deutrom as "frankly outrageous".

Sports Minister Leo Varadkar, at a special reception to welcome back the national team after the recent World Cup tournament that featured 14 teams, slammed the plan as a "closed shop" that wouldn't be a "World Cup at all."

Ireland pulled off one of the shocks of the just-concluded tournament when they came from behind to beat England by three wickets in a thrilling group stage clash that Varadkar described as "stunning."

The Minister said the highest ever successful run chase at a World Cup, and the fastest ever World Cup Century ensured a most memorable day, not only for Irish Cricket, but for Irish sport in general.

Varadkar said he fully supported the efforts of Cricket Ireland and the other non-Test countries to persuade the ICC Board to reverse its decision.

"And I want you to know that my offices are available to assist the associate nations in their campaign to have this decision reversed, in any way that you see fit."

Varadkar said the ICC's decision does not reflect the values of a sport that aims to be a gentleman's game.

"To coin another phrase, it's just not cricket.

"This 'closed shop' approach cannot be good for the game, and appears to fly in the face of the sacred values that cricket has espoused for so long -- namely fair play, sportsmanship and camaraderie," Varadkar said.

Cricket has a stronger following in British-ruled Northern Ireland but support is growing in the Republic.

Four years ago only two professional players went to the World Cup as part of the Irish team. This year the number had increased to 13.

Enthusiastic cricketing immigrants were attracted to Ireland during the 1990s economic boom and it now has players from countries like New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, India and Pakistan.

Attitudes to the game also changed following the Northern Ireland peace process.

In the past, playing cricket had a political dimension. It was known as a "garrison" sport because it was associated with British army barracks around the country during colonisation.

It was brought to Ireland by the English and initially thrived when it also spread through landed estates.

Topics : Cricket Ricky Ponting Canada Ireland
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