by David Townsend

Published by Pitch Publishing
A2 Yeoman Gate, Yeoman Way,
Worthing, Sussex BN13 3QZ


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Pages: 349

MRP: £16.99


Do they play cricket in Ireland? Well, yes, and rather well, actually. David Townsend, a journalist, has been in the ideal position to follow and now chart Ireland's progress from their international bow to a Test appearance at Lord's. In between, there have naturally been the highs and lows but David gives us a free-flowing and fun account of what has happened along the way.

The book is written as a diary and the 25-year story starts in Kenya in 1994 and winds up with Ireland bowling out England by lunch on the first day for just 85 at Lord's in 2019. It was a heroic performance although we know later that the match folded in the host's favour after Ireland went for just 38. No matter, they had made their mark.

David Townsend was in a wonderful position to get to know both the players and officials and his book cleverly notes the differing approaches as the more modern era came along. David's easy style means that the reader will likely feel that they know some of the players and officials far better by the end of the book. In keeping with this easy style, people are usually referred to by their nicknames: some will be fairly obvious, if not especially difficult to decipher, although "Scooby" McCoubrey is one of the better ones! We learn much about those who have been involved with and played for Ireland since 1994. Some of them do not sound faint-hearted at times, certainly.

A picture is painted of events both on and off the field. The regular refrain of "Alcohol was consumed" left me, naive soul, wondering whether this was just normal practice - albeit not daily - or whether it suggested vast amounts of whenever the three words were mentioned. I'm still not sure, but all mentioned seemed on the whole to have a good time and Ireland have certainly made waves during their international appearances.

David can also take credit for introducing Ed Joyce, one of Ireland's finest batsmen, to Middlesex. Ed, one of a family boasting brothers and sisters to represent Ireland, went on to play for England before returning to the green colours of Ireland. David's tactical nous also helped Ireland win a global tournament.

As the book also follows the cricketers and author around the world, there are many observations which may also interest potential visitors to those countries (when we can, of course). I read with great sympathy David's plight in obtaining a Press Pass at the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata, I having endured the same, albeit collecting a more humble ticket. It is a great joy to read again of Ireland's heroics in various World Cup tournaments.

The Irish team has not always been made up of those born and bred in Ireland and some of those who were have tried their luck on the other side of the Irish Sea with varying degrees of success. David mentions many examples of what these players have brought to the team, and relives many of the epic encounters during the 2007 and 2011 World Cups, in particular. The book makes for engrossing reading in David's engaging style and I am sure that I will not be alone in enjoying the last quarter-century of Ireland's rich cricket history through the pages of Do They Play Cricket in Ireland?