Ireland defeating England may look great but we have had upsets before. It hasn’t materialized to much a lot of the times, largely due to ICC neglect. Kenya was great in the 1996 World Cup for instance. They didn’t get many matches though and ended up having an internal match fixing scandal. Now, cricket in Kenya is in shambles, epitomized by the drubbing Sri Lanka gave them a few days back.
Ireland has been showing the talent for a fair while in the recent past. They are easily the best associate right now. Yet, all their players can aspire to do is to play for England, and England would like that too as it helps their player pool. The subcontinent wouldn’t mind it either as a team like Ireland would hurt their voting block.
Zimbabwe is now doing good after all seem doomed a few years back after the player exodus. They even have a test lined up and the country they are playing is South Africa, which should come as no surprise. South Africa has always been a country which is more than ready to help out it’s African brother. Zimbabwe kept playing in tri-series ODIs in South Africa for instance.
Now, how many ODIs do you remember England playing versus the likes of Ireland, Scotland and Holland?
The players playing for associate nations aren’t professionals and it is important to understand this. There have been reports of players quitting because of having to travel too much and play too much in tournaments like the Intercontinental Cup for instance. What they need is a strong domestic structure and strong ties with the nearby countries who are stronger who can help improve their status. Teams given responsibilities of various regions and not just for the sake of it – ensuring they pursue it diligently would be a right way to go about it.
Most of the nations, even South Africa and India were once minnows. You have to look no further than Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe (late 90s) and Bangladesh though. If they can progress like they have, there is no reason why more teams can’t, with a little help. The ‘little help’ is vital though.