Dublin - Ireland will be huge underdogs when they face
Pakistan in their inaugural men's Test match at Malahide on Friday.
But several members of their squad already know what it's
like to cause a huge upset against Pakistan, having played in the Ireland side
that knocked the Asian giants out of the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean with a
stunning three-wicket win in Jamaica.
It was the stuff of fairytales with Ireland, a team of
part-timers containing school teachers, farmers and postmen defeating the Asian
giants - and on St Patrick's Day as well.
One of the few green-tinged pitches in the West Indies, and
thereby reminiscent of surfaces at home in Ireland, was matched by fans wearing
Irish green shirts in a jubilant crowd at Kingston's Sabina Park.
The fairytale soon became a nightmare, however, when
Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer, the former England batsman who in his previous
development role with the International Cricket Council had done much to raise
the standard of non-Test nations, was found dead in his hotel room the next
Ireland dismissed Pakistan for a meagre 132 with fast bowler
Boyd Rankin - set to be involved in the Test - taking three wickets.
Ireland were soon 15 for two before an innings of 72 from
Niall O'Brien, also in the Test squad, got them back on track before
now-retired captain Trent Johnston won the match with a six off Azhar Mahmood.
"It was the start of something special," Johnston
told The42.ie website. "The start of an amazing journey and a day when the
rest of the world sat up and took notice of us as a cricketing nation."
Ireland's victory came just 48 hours after they had exceeded
many people's expectations by playing out a tie with another Test side in
"I was lucky I won that toss," said Johnston, who
was also rightly proud of the "bloody good cricket," Ireland played
"We were a bunch of amateurs going to a World Cup and
we had absolutely nothing to lose," he added.
Irish joy was quickly tempered by widespread mourning for
Woolmer, whose sudden death gave rise to a host of wild conspiracy theories.
Although no one knew it at the time, Ireland's win
perversely damaged the cause of aspiring cricket nations.
Pakistan and arch-rivals India were both knocked out in the
first round, a huge blow to organisers banking on their fans to pack out
grounds later on, as well as broadcasters who had paid heavily for television
rights in the subcontinent.
The ICC, as much a club for its leading members as a global
governing body, soon decided a repeat had to be avoided at all costs.
That outlook has led to next year's World Cup in England
being shrunk to a 10-team event, with an all-play-all group stage.
Ireland, however, will not be there after missing out in a
10-team qualifying tournament where only Afghanistan and the West Indies made
it through to the finals.