Irish hospitality

Back from my trip to Ireland covering the Quadrangular series and, before I write any more, I must pen this joke – told to me by a Dublin taxi driver this morning.

“A Belfast man is in prison, so his mate goes to see him. ‘What do you do for sex?’ he asks him. ‘Well, we usually have our tea.’”

Those who haven’t heard the differences between the two accents of Northern Ireland and the south won’t get the joke. In fact, it only works if you say it out loud…but it had me guffawing my way to the airport, at any rate.

A view of Clontarf, Dublin

An interesting trip to Ireland though. Some of the cricket was really quite poor by the Associates – and by West Indies, it has to be said – but overall it was a very useful fact-finding mission. I’m less convinced by exactly what the Associates have gained from the experience – it was blighted by the bloody rain, sadly – but I suppose the more they play, the better they get. The complete lack of exposure to the newspapers, TV, radio – anywhere – was a huge concern though. Just two weeks earlier, with India and South Africa playing “off-shore” internationals, that too failed to attract sizeable crowds – due in part to a cock-up by the ICU in over-pricing the matches (something they rectified for the Quadrangular).

One comment struck me, though: do they (the Associates) really want to play with the big guys, or are they happy as they are?

They can’t be. But until the boards receive massive financial injection, they simply won’t develop to a sufficient standard and players will continue to flee to England for a full-time salary and genuine prospects of playing Test cricket. That’s the truth as I see it.

The enthusiasm for Irish cricket among those involved, however, was really great to see. But can a family – and that’s essentially what Irish cricket still is – become a professional, business-oriented body?