Mar 28, 2007
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Can't come back yet boss,I'm in the Super Eights

Mar 28, 2007

By Richard Sydenham

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (Reuters) - Never mind the form and confidence of his players going in to the Cricket World Cup second stage this week, the Irish manager's big concern was that all his men could get time off from their day jobs to compete.

Ireland, playing their first World Cup, shocked the cricket world when they defeated 1992 winners Pakistan with a three-wicket victory in Jamaica in the group stage on March 17. That win as good as sealed their passage to the last eight.

Whereas the other seven teams in the Super Eights are 100 percent professional, Ireland's team boast a farmer, a teacher, delivery drivers, a salesman and more.

"Once we had it confirmed we were through I had to ring home to speak to all the players' employers and confirm that they could give the players another month off," manager Roy Torrens told Reuters at the team's hotel in Georgetown.

"I wouldn't have liked to own the business that said 'no'. Given the euphoria in the country at the moment regarding the cricket team and the profile that the players are getting, I would have been very surprised if any had refused.


"We were fortunate that quite a few of the players' employers were actually out in Jamaica supporting the team and it wasn't a difficult question to ask. But you have to do these things and go through the proper channels."

Three of Ireland's players are professional with Eoin Morgan at Middlesex, Niall O'Brien -- man-of-the match against Pakistan -- contracted to Northamptonshire and fast bowler Boyd Rankin is to play at Derbyshire this year.

The counties were more than happy to accept Ireland's request, Torrens said, because they were happier for them to be playing world-class cricket than preparing for the coming season in a more relaxed fashion.

But not all the employers were quite as straightforward to organise alternative arrangements for.

"Kyle McCallan is a schoolteacher so we had to check with the education board that he works for that it was okay for him to stay out here," Torrens said.

"David Langford-Smith is a delivery driver for a grass-cutting company in Dublin and fortunately the boss there is a former president of the Irish Cricket Union.

"Andre Botha and Paul Mooney also work for a grass-cutting company in North Dublin. Their boss was out here and he's a very keen supporter of Irish cricket so overall there were about six bosses we had to confirm with.

"Kenny Carroll gave up his job as a postman in October to play cricket. He has been at home for about three weeks in the last six months. Our opening batsman William Porterfield has taken a year out after just graduating from his studies."

Captain Trent Johnston works as a salesman for a textile company whose managing director Angus Dunlop captained Ireland, so again it was not a huge challenge to gain the time off.

The Irish Cricket Union are paying their salaries while they take the extended leave. For those who are married with family, some wives were out in Jamaica and some are staying on.

Their accommodation is being met by the ICU though they must pay for their own flights.

Whatever the added financial burden and staff shortages, most employers are happy with the success of the team in a sport where Ireland are still regarded as small fry.

Rankin would normally be helping on the family farm at this time of year with Spring lambing. His father has had to find extra help.

"My dad is just over the moon that we're in the Super Eights," Rankin told Reuters. "I don't think he's too unhappy that I won't be coming home just yet.

"My brothers help him on the farm anyway. There's plenty of help so I think he's got things under control."

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