It doesn’t take much for sports fans to lose themselves in nostalgia — and, let’s be real, given the absolute state of all things, we could be forgiven for diving into an idealized pool of how things once were … if it didn’t matter so much to us for coming here. However, it is impossible to imagine a World Cup match between Ireland and England without going back to Bengaluru in March 2011, when Kevin Pietersen scored 59, Jonathan Trott 92 and Ian Bell 81 … only for Kevin O’Brien, who played one of the great innings, 113 off 73 to help Ireland to 3 wickets with five balls to spare.
A lot has changed since then; in particular, England learned to play limited overs cricket. But when it comes to T20, that doesn’t always matter: of all the sports in the world, only MMA can be as unpredictable. In the latter, this is because there are so many ways to complete the contest, and to complete it quickly, which is somewhat the case with the former as well. Cricket has always been an individual sport played by teams – much like MMA, given fighters’ penchant for using the word ‘we’ when talking about subjecting themselves to barely believable punishment – and in its shortest form, one brilliant knock or spell can make everything else irrelevant. Just ask Ben Stokes.
So what about today’s match? Well, England have achieved this in superb form, beating Pakistan in one of the big series and then beating Australia, Pakistan again and Afghanistan in the last month. But Ireland are also in it, having knocked out the West Indies to reach this stage, and while they were well beaten by Sri Lanka in their first Super 12 match, both sides know they are one Kevin O’Brien innings away from to shock the world.
Play: 3pm local time, 5am BST