Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Get your curse on

Around the time the sun rises here in the US tomorrow, an ancient Celtic drama will play out again on the fields of Dublin: this time it's a cricket match between Ireland and Scotland. The two nations will be facing off in the final match of the European Division One Championships against four other top European sides (a group which theoretically does not include England, although on the evidence it's not clear they've got such a big advantage these days, but including Norway, last spotted being pulverized by the USA). The Irish and Scots are each undefeated thus far and miles ahead of the other sides involved (Italy only mustering a paltry 43 all out against Scotland, for instance), so Thursday's match promises to be a worthy showdown. Ireland are best known for their shock victory over Pakistan in last year's World Cup, but both nations have started down the path to professionalism, trying to make cricket a major sport in a couple of somewhat unlikely places.

And we can't mention Ireland and cricket together without a nod to Joseph O'Neill, the Irish-born writer who's recently been named to the Booker Prize longlist for his splendid novel Netherland, which among other things takes on a fantastical vision of the sport and the possibility of cricket in America. We'll have more to say regarding Mr. O'Neill's splendid novel in a future installment as well.

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