The cricket World Cup may be in its infancy, but already the match of the tournament has been played. Not between Australia and South Africa, nor the West Indies and Sri Lanka but between two of the minnows of the competition, Ireland and Zimbabwe, who offered something we don’t see much of modern cricket – the drama of enthralling cricket plus unbridled enthusiasm and a result that has only happened in World Cup cricket twice before, a tie.
Scores were tied with one ball to go and that’s the way they remained after Zimbabwe batsman Stuart Matsikenyeri missed the Andrew White delivery and the Irish wicketkeeper Niall O’Brien threw the ball to the bowler to run out Zimbabwe’s no.11 batsman Edward Rainsford.
The match had something one-day cricket has been missing for so long – closeness! And there were some great individual performances including a fighting century (115 not out) by Ireland’s Jeremy Bray who became only the six batsmen from a non-Test playing team to score a hundred in the World Cup (and only the ninth batsmen to bat through undefeated in World Cup history) – to lead Ireland to 9-221 off their 50 overs. Matsikenyeri, who scored 73 not out was another standout performer and a plethora of dropped catches, unnecessary run-outs, panicked batting and missed opportunities was just the recipe the game needed.
Next time someone tells you that minnows shouldn’t be playing in the World Cup, refer them to this game because that is what cricket is supposed to be about – exhilaration, fun and unpredictability.