Thursday, March 22, 2007

I(reland) don't like cricket, oh no, …

A few days ago it was just one of those sports stories that fans love. The Irish national cricket team is mostly part-timers – the guys on the team had to take time off work. From what I gather most of them took enough time to see them through the end of this week when their World Cup would be over. They were playing in a group with Zimbabwe, Pakistan and the West Indies. Advancement was never going to happen.

Until - they started the tournament with a tie against Zimbabwe (a true cricketing nation). Great result. Then they beat and eliminated Pakistan, which was stunning. Suddenly the sports pages were full of cricket news.

But then, right there in the middle of the fairytale, something strange happened. The coach of the Pakistan team died. That made the tale a little less joyful. Now it's so much worse. There are rumors that he was murdered, possibly by a disgruntled fan or possibly in some murky match-fixing scandal. It's a big enough story here, bigger in England, but huge in India where cricket is king. The Times of India says "[c]ricket will never be the same again".

That certainly does take some of the excitement out of Ireland's performance. I presume it won't have any effect on the team and that they can just keep going with their good play. They have had to extend their vacations because they're going into a second month of world cup play (is this the longest sporting tournament in the world?), which according to what I heard on the radio this morning, most of them hadn't planned on. Maybe by the time they're all finished we'll have a fairytale ending and a new national flag.