Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Biggest Upset In The History Of World Sport

At the cricket World Cup yesterday, Ireland beat England. In Ireland there are a few hundred cricket players. There is no professional or even semi professional league. In England it is the national game. There are a million schoolboy, amateur and county players. Is the current England team good? Well they just won the Ashes in devastating fashion against Australia. Did Ireland have a chance of winning? The bookies didn't think so. Ireland were 400:1 against outsiders. That famed South African team that beat New Zealand in the 1995 world cup were 3:1 outsiders. The odds against Seabiscuit beating War Admiral were a measly 2:1.
How did it happen? Surprisingly England played quite well. They did not choke. It was just that Ireland played astonishingly. Kevin O'Brien scored the fastest hundred ever in the history of the cricket world cup and the rest of the team kept their nerve to win the match with five balls to spare. You can read the Guardian's live blog here. It's entertaining stuff. Smyth and Gardner start off assuming an easy victory, then they begin to get a sense that something is up. By the final few overs the bloggers are convinced that they're watching the greatest one day cricket match that there has ever been. I'd go further. I can't think of a bigger upset in the century and a half of world sport. Is Kevin O'Brien a hero in Ireland? Well the new Prime Minister called him and he made the front page in all the papers. As one of the bloggers said, I'd be very surprised if O'Brien ever has to buy another round of drinks in his life.