Cricket

Beating England At Their Own Game - When Ireland Shook The Cricket World

Beating England At Their Own Game - When Ireland Shook The Cricket World

We're very much enjoying Beating England Week here on Balls.ie as we delve into the archive and lap up the nostalgia of great Irish sporting moments as we count down to Saturday, St. Patrick's Day, Twickenham, and England.

Check out some of the great memories we've already discussed here.

This one though, might be the most amazing and shocking of them all.

It was hard to believe when it happened, and it's hard to believe now. In 2011, Ireland beat England at the Cricket World Cup.

In 2007, on St. Patrick's Day, Irish cricket was put on the map when the team beat Pakistan in Kingston. It was a heroic performance that sent Ireland through to the Super 8s phase of the competition. A lot of factors were in Ireland's favour though - a Pakistan team in absolute disarray, and a grass-green pitch. It leveled the playing field, and from there, Ireland recorded a historic victory.

By the time the 2011 World Cup in India came around, Irish cricket had gone from strength to strength and we actually expected something this time around.

The first game against Bangladesh was the target. Unfortunately, it didn't go their way and there was real disappointment heading into the second game in Bangalore against England.

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The teams had met in the 2007 Super 8s, and though Ireland managed to get defector Ed Joyce out for a duck, they never really looked like knocking off the old enemy at their own game. Four years later, Joyce and Eoin Morgan had switched teams.

If you don't remember, this wasn't a win on a bad pitch that brought us back to the pack, or a win that came as a result of some lucky nicks and dodgy wickets, this was Ireland going out and smashing England off the park.

In fact, England's batsmen, which didn't include the injured Irishman Morgan, had left us a total to chase so high, it had never been done before in history of the World Cup. Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen all had big scores, while John Mooney bowled well, claiming four wickets and at least keeping Ireland with something of a shot. Though in truth, not much.

A few hours later, cue pandemonium both in India and at home.

Ireland started the run chase quietly. William Porterfield went for a duck. Ireland were scoring heavily but were losing wickets. At one stage in the in-game betting, Ireland were 400/1.

Kevin O'Brien, batting at six, came to the creese with Ireland at 106/4, and with 22 overs played. The task was mammoth.

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O'Brien then went nuts, and hit the English bowlers around the park. The Dubliner smashed the quickest 100 in World Cup history, scoring his 100 off just 50 balls. When he was run-out on 113, Ireland were in an incredible position, needing just 11 runs from the remaining 11 balls.

Trent Johnston and the brilliant Mooney cleaned things up with the winning runs and Ireland had done it! History was made. We'd beaten England at their own game!

On the anniversary of the achievement a few weeks ago, the International Cricket Council  made a supercut of O'Brien's century on what was the most famous day in Irish cricket history.

Wicket keeper, and other O'Brien brother, Niall, the man of the match in the 2007 win over Pakistan, was adamant after the game that the win was "regulation" and no surprise to anyone who had being paying attention.

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In the last four years, we've come a long way. In 2007, we were only a few professional cricketers and we created a lot of shocks. These aren't shocks.

Everyone is surprised, there is a lot of media hype, but for us, this is regulation. We should have beaten Bangladesh, we have beaten England." Ireland, he said, expected to win every game they played. We play India on Sunday, we expect to win, we want to win. We have respect for every team we play against, equally they all have respect for us.

Unfortunately, Ireland didn't beat India, and didn't make it out of the group stages despite some spirited performances after that famous night in Bangalore. Nothing would ever top that night though. Beating England. In cricket. In the World Cup. In style.

Captain William Porterfield wasn't as matter-of-fact as his teammate:

This is the greatest day of our lives.

Overnight, Kevin O'Brien became an Irish sporting superstar and the cricketers were the toast of the country. Back in reality and away from the massive spotlight in the seven years since, the good work and the success has continued, and Ireland are now a full member of the ICC and will host the country's first test match against Pakistan this May.

We're not sure anything will ever beat beating England though.

SEE ALSO: Balls Remembers - The Irish Team That Became The First Foreign Team To Beat England

SEE ALSO: How The English Media Reacted To Ireland's Shock Euro 88 Victory

Michael McCarthy

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