Anyone who might have thought that the very expression “Irish cricket” was a joke, or at least a classic example of an oxymoron, has been disabused dramatically by Ireland’s victory over England in the Cricket World Cup.
England is, of course, the home of cricket, and the sport is one of the few things that still define who the English are. Although the English national side has had its ups and downs, it has recently been on a high, since its brilliant victory in Australia.
Ireland does not – or at least had not – seen itself as a cricketing nation in the way that England, Australia, India, Pakistan and the West Indies see themselves.
Indeed, by contrast, Ireland, or at least the Republic, is inclined away from all things English. Although the English inventions of rugby and soccer are played there, Irish identity is linked, quite deliberately, with the sports of the Gaelic Athletic Association. So the Irish cricket victory is the equivalent of an English hurling team winning the Liam McCarthy Cup.
Such a victory over the ancient foe on its cultural home ground is therefore a ray of sunshine in a dark time for Ireland, which is practically bankrupt.
Aside from bringing some much welcome joy to the Irish, small and entrepreneurial businesses everywhere can take heart. We are seen as the underdogs, yet when we get our game right we can out manoeuvre our bigger, better resourced and seemingly better qualified competitors – especially when their apparent superiority makes them arrogant or complacent.
We might also let yesterday’s match remind us of these important lessons:
1 There is always hope. Victory against the odds is possible – and, indeed, occurs more frequently than the odds might suggest.
2 A bad start is often a good start. The Irish actually lost their captain on the very first ball of their innings. It seems to have only made them more determined.
3 Take nothing for granted. The English did. The Irish did not.