No, it wasn’t just the luck of the Irish that kicked in at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Wednesday evening. It was the grit and thwak of Kevin O’Brien, helped generously by teammate John Mooney and the cheers of a post-colonial crowd, that brought about the first real ‘upset’ in the 2011 Cricket World Cup.
Barring England supporters — and not all English could be clubbed into that category as Wednesday night progressed — everyone was rooting for the men in green (and purple-coloured hair). Coming a World Cup after Ireland beat the Pakistanis in the 2007 tournament in the West Indies, the team from the land of that great cricket enthusiast (with a batting average of 8.75 in first class cricket) Samuel Beckett may be quickly losing its ‘minnows’ tag.
O’Brien (never to be confused with Pietersen) literally made the pitch a level-playing field as he scored the quickest century ever in a World Cup match with his 113 off 63 balls, eclipsing Australian Matthew Hayden’s 101 off 68 in 2007. Ireland is where Sri Lanka was in 1979 when the latter, not yet decorated with Test-playing status, beat India by 47 runs in Manchester.
Wednesday’s gargantuan victory against England also leaves a special aftertaste, with all that history between the two countries. Cricket is a forward-looking game, but history is a loud spectator when a turnaround comes. So at the cost of being Irish with an unflagging memory, each of the six sixes that O’Brien struck reminded us of what that Anglo-American gent Winston Churchill had said, “The choice was clearly open: crush them with vain and unstinted force, or try to give them what they want.... Here indeed was the Irish spectre — horrid and inexorcisable.”
We think that over a Guinness or two or three or four (Vijay Mallya town closes the bar at the ungodly hour of 11 pm), the Irish may have chuckled over that one.
In the meantime, as India gets ready to meet Ireland on Sunday, all we can suggest is that someone makes a last minute bid for Kevin O’Brien for the IPL. The Irish economy could certainly do with the help from its Indian friends who may have just discovered that the Irish have more than just luck on their side.