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The Ireland cricket tram is an accomplished side, although it is far from a world beater. It has played many successful tours and series and it has also appeared in several World Cups, always falling short of making a serious impact. They are one of the three cricket teams from the British Isles and are often considered to be the second best, behind England and ahead of Scotland.
The first recorded cricket match by a team representing Ireland occurred in 1855, and within a few decades the Ireland team was playing on a regular basis, even touring both Canada and the United States. They began a fierce rivalry with Scotland at the end of the 19th century and they have also had a rivalry with England throughout their history.
They played their first official “first-class” match in 1902 and they qualified for the first World Cup in 2007, after being ruled ineligible for the first few tournaments, and falling to qualifying for the ones that followed. It is from this date that the Ireland team really came into their own, and all of their biggest record holders and their most notable players played the game during or after this point, with many of them still playing into 2016.
Ireland may not have reached the heights achieved by sides like Australia, West Indies and England, but they still have some legends in their ranks, players that may have made it into many of history’s best teams, advancing Ireland’s position on the world stage in the process.
William Thomas Porterfield is one of their best ever batsmen, holding the record for the most career runs. As of 2015, he is still playing the game, adding to a total that is already above 2,500. His average is not as impressive as that of the second placed Kevin O’Brien, who is also still playing the game and who is right on the heels of his teammate in the record books. O’Brien also sits second place in the ranks for the Highest Single ODI score, which he achieved against Kenya in 2007 when he scored 142. This feat was bettered by Paul Stirling though, who scored 177 against Canada in 2010.
Kevin O’Brien is not just known for his ability at bat and he also tops the list for the most career wickets, with 76 to his name at the end of 2015, a number that will surely grow before he calls curtain on his time in the international ranks. Other bowlers whose names have been cemented in the annuals of Irish history include Trent Johnson, Alex Cusack and George Dockrell.
Ireland’s performance at the ICC World Cup has not been great. During the first four competitions they were not members of the ICC and so they were ineligible for the tournament. This changed for the first time in 1996, but they failed to qualify for that World Cup and for the next two. They first qualified in 2007, making it to the Super 8 after winning two of their games and drawing one. They also won two games in 2011, but they failed to make it beyond the group stage then and in 2015, where they actually won three of their six games.
Although they have a habit of falling short at the World Cup, Ireland have been impressive in the qualifiers of this competition and the qualifiers of the ICC World Twenty20. In fact, they won the qualifying campaigns for the World20 on three separate occasions, first in 2009 and then again in 2012 and 2013.
Elsewhere, Ireland also claimed a solitary victory at the now retired Triple Crown, a victory that came in 1996 and was proceeded and preceded by many second and third place finishes. They also won the very first European Championship in 1996, a feat which it took them another ten years to repeat. They won again in 2008, before finishing second in 2010 when they entered the competition as Ireland A.
The Intercontinental Cup has also been a successful competition for Ireland, because despite not making it past the first round in 2004, they won the 2005, 2006 and 2007 competitions, and after a brief break from their winning ways in the 2009-2010 competition, they won again in the competition that ran from 2011 to 2013.
Ireland have had moderate success in Test games as well, although they have struggled against the bigger teams, as is perhaps to be expected. They have very impressive records against Scotland, Kenya, the Netherlands, Canada and Afghanistan, teams that compete on the fringes, so to speak, but they have failed to record wins against Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and India.