It is a measure of Ireland’s success at the last two World Cups that it will no longer count as a stunning shock if they defeat a Test nation in Australia and New Zealand.
Whether it was knocking Pakistan out of the 2007 edition in the Caribbean or seeing Kevin O’Brien produce the fastest-ever World Cup century in a memorable victory over England in Bangalore four years ago, the game’s elite have learnt to respect the men in green.
“The Irish have got a good structure and good facilities,” former England all-rounder Paul Collingwood, now a member of Scotland’s backroom staff, told the ICC website.
“They’re always a well-drilled unit and a lot of their players have got county experience so you know they’re going to cause teams problems.
“The win against England in 2011 was huge. It will be their goal to have an Irish Test team to keep hold of the players that have come over to England to do that,” he added.
And therein lies the problem for Ireland. Their plight is summed-up by the fact the best Irish batsman of his generation, Eoin Morgan, won’t be playing for his native country at the World Cup but will, in fact, be captaining England instead.
So long as Ireland don’t have Test status, there is always the chance the very best Irish players will follow in Morgan’s footsteps.
Ireland have done everything that could reasonably be asked of them in making a case to become a Test nation and former Australia fast bowler turned Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie was in no doubt, saying the ICC “should be making it a priority”.
Unfortunately for Ireland, they lack the political clout that saw Bangladesh become a Test country and the rest of the world game, having seen how the Tigers have struggled since, are in no hurry to make the Irish a permanent member of the elite.
Meanwhile the Irish players’ soldier on in the hope another World Cup scalp will aid their quest for Test status, with the West Indies, South Africa, Zimbabwe, India, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates in their sights.
Experienced campaigners William Porterfield and brothers Kevin and Niall O’Brien are at the heart of an experienced squad coached by former West Indies batsman Phil Simmons.
The trio, along with Ed Joyce and John Mooney, will be playing at their third World Cup while the 15-man squad also includes several tournament debutants in Andrew Balbirnie, Peter Chase, Andrew McBrine, Stuart Thompson, and Craig Young, although Middlesex paceman Tim Murtagh has been ruled out through injury
“We’ve produced some wonderful performances over the years in World Cups, and there’s no reason why we can’t claim further successes in Australia and New Zealand,” said captain Porterfield, one of several players in the squad who earns his living in the English county championship.
“While we may have lost the surprise factor over the years, we’ve certainly gained a lot of respect for our brand of cricket which has been pretty pleasing.”
Ireland have also recruited retired Australian pace ace Brett Lee to work as a bowling consultant at the World Cup.