GRIM news for Ireland fans hoping to watch the three firstround games in the Cricket World Cup. The first game, against Zimbabwe, will be shown on Sky Sports 1, which is widely accessible to subscribers in this country. However, Sky Sports have allotted the Ireland v Pakistan and Ireland v West Indies games to their ‘red button’ interactive service which is not available to NTL or Chorus subscribers.

As it stands, only the tiny number of subscribers to the Sky satellite package can watch these fixtures. Some pubs, clubs and hotels subscribe to Sky, and they are sure to gain plenty of custom in the next fortnight.

All is not well in Jamaica either in advance of the arrival of Adi’s Army. The local corporate sector have been blamed for not getting behind the ICC’s cultural programme.

Several ‘Team Jamaica Tourist Villages’ have been abandoned and events cancelled. The city, already boasting one of the highest crime rates in the world, has seen its murder rate rocket since the year began, with 140 murders in the capital in January alone.

With all the fuss about flag-flying last weekend you would think the Wisden Cricketer might have been alert to the sensitivities of Irish sport. The leading UK magazine hoists a tricolour atop its half-page coverage of Ireland this month.

Adi Birrell is known as ‘Mr One Percent’, but not due to any creaming of agents’ fees or anything like that. The Irish coach sees the concentration on tiny improvements as crucial in cricketing situations when an inch or a tenth of a second can be the difference between success and failure.

One area he focused on was vision, and he brought in the Belfast firm SportsVision International to work on the squad’s eyesight.

Kyle McCallan is enthusiastic about their work: “The visual exercises that Susan Park has developed definitely played a major part in our development. I know that my depth perception has improved and my batting has improved as a result.”

The Pakistani ambassador, Toheed Ahmad, brought the house down with his offer of a ‘deal’ with Ireland at the launch of the book 100 Greats of Irish Cricket last week. Toheed, a cricket fanatic, suggested that his compatriots had gone easy on Bangladesh in the 1999 World Cup and that a similar arrangement might be made with the ICU. Ireland skipper Trent Johnston, at the launch with three of his squad, was unable to comment!

Signs that there’s a new wind blowing for Irish cricket: there are 70 ex-pats making the trip from the Cayman Islands to Jamaica, and they have organised to play a match in Ocho Rios on the day after JamPatrick’s Day. The 70 are all members of the Cayman Islands Gaelic Football Club and the match is a GAA one.

Signs that we still have a long way to go: The new ads for Sky Sports’ CWC coverage feature various members of the British public making comments about the teams they support. No disrespect to our brothers on the sites in the UK, but perhaps the station is in a ’50s timewarp when its Irish and Scots representatives are two gap-toothed boyos digging a hole.

Days to go to the World Cup: 11. Peter Gillespie and Alan Lewis both made 11 ducks in Ireland colours, with the Strabane man notching up three in his last three ODIs. He won’t want to progress much further up a table topped by such greats such as Jimmy Boucher (18), Ossie Colhoun (17) and Angus Dunlop (16).

A Century of Cans: the winner of the 100 cans of Foster’s is John Threadgold of Halverstown. All round to John’s!

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