Cricket has been popular in Ireland for many years, writes Matt Keane

On St Patrick’s Day, 2007 Ireland caused a major shock when they  defeated the mighty cricket power Pakistan in Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica in the World Cup.

The majority of the country came to a standstill as this extraordinary story unfolded and that included people who did not have the remotest interest in the game. Suddenly the ‘bat and ball’ sport became sexy and that fact remained in place right up to this year because the Irish team defeated two test playing nations, namely the West Indies and Zimbabwe in this years 50-50 World Cup in New Zealand and Australia.

In the 2011 World Cup, Ireland defeated England in a group match and it must be remembered that we are an ‘associate’ member of the International Cricket Council and the long battle to gain “test status’’ continues apace.

The ICC has decided to curtail the 2019 50-50 World Cup to just ten countries, ie eight test nations and two associate countries and this decision will make it even harder for the smaller countries like Ireland to qualify considering that 14 countries competed in the competition this year.

Cricket is perhaps the oldest sport in Ireland.

The game was introduced to this country way back in the 1830s. To suggest that cricket is the quintessential English game is perhaps a fair comment but there is no doubt that Irish emigrants played a major role in making the game popular.

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