Two bits of news have dominated the cricket world in the past week and I guess I have close links with both.
After the fall out of England’s whitewashed test series against the Australians, heads were always going to roll. I am very surprised that the first to leave was Andy Flower.
Rumours of players being unhappy with Flower’s strict headmaster-like leadership were rife but one thing you can’t argue with is his record, save for the most recent series down under.
If it was a case of the ECB thinking that he was no longer able to get the best out of this current group of players then a decision was probably made jointly on him taking on another role.
The biggest news coming from England this week was that of the decision to terminate Kevin Pietersen’s contract. The only way I can judge Kevin is from what I’ve seen of him when he plays for Surrey - that is a man who is quite clearly head and shoulders above everyone else on the pitch, that turns up any time he plays and wants to win games for us.
I’m not just talking about going through the motions and getting his runs. I’m talking about the guy being fiercely competitive, coming up with ideas and helping younger guys get the best out of themselves.
Now I’m quite sure that when he lost games for Surrey in the past that he didn’t go home hurting quite as much as perhaps the rest of us did.
I think now it might be a different story. Over the last week or so Surrey worked quickly to ensure we had his services.
I’m all for team ethos being more important than any one person and if someone doesn’t buy in, then no matter how good they are they either step up or you find someone else that will. In my experience at Surrey, KP is not that guy and we are all delighted he will be scoring runs for us this year.
The other big news of the week in cricket circles came from ICC headquarters.
The revamp of world cricket has now been approved, that will effectively see the BCCI, ECB and Cricket Australia having the major say in everything that goes on. The way in which it affects Cricket Ireland and us players is still somewhat hazy but as far as I can see it gives us a clear pathway to test cricket.
The winner of the next edition of the Intercontinental Cup has the opportunity to play the lowest ranked test side for a place with Cricket’s elite. Now comes the complicated bit, who plays in the ICup? How long does it last? How many teams will be involved? If we win it will the play off game against the lowest ranked test side be considered a test match? Unfortunately those are all of the things that are unclear.
At the moment we are quite clearly the next best test side and in my opinion a system based on meritocracy like this was due years ago. If it had been introduced then we would already be a test nation or certainly had a number of goes at winning the play off.
Is it therefore a little unfair that we are going to be asked to win yet another ICup to get that opportunity, yeah it is! Unfortunately, it’s the only option we’ve got.
You get the impression that people not involved in associate cricket and Cricket Ireland in particular are thinking that this is a massive favour being done for us and that we should be thankful we are even getting this chance. My retort would be the only reason this part of the restructure was even thought about is because over the last 8-10 years we have shown that we are ready.
So, are we happy for the opportunity? Yes, we are but we certainly deserve it. Another thing stacked against us is the funding, a difference of around $60 million over the funding period, between the top associate and the lowest test side. The backs of the ICup winner are firmly against the wall with odds stacked in favour of the test side...Just the way we like it, that’s when we play our best!