Inzi out? Willis & Slater
By Jamie Hunt
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Bob Willis and Michael Slater discuss the ramifications of Pakistan's shock loss to Ireland.
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Saturday March 17 2007, St. Patrick's Day no less, will go down as the date of the greatest shock in World Cup cricket.
Ireland stunned the cricketing world with a three-wicket win in Jamaica over Pakistan that sent the 1992 champions crashing out of the World Cup having alreadly lost to the hosts, West Indies.
And while Ireland's legion of supporters in Kingston, not to mention their players and staff, headed off the celebrate victory in style, Michael Slater and Bob Willis spared a thought for the hapless Pakistanis on Sky Sports.
Defeat, they said, would not be taken lightly in Pakistan and probably spelled the end of Inzamam-ul-Haq's cricket career and also Pakistan's association with coach Bob Woolmer.
Willis said: "It is incredible. Pakistan, in 1992, won the World Cup. Fight like cornered tigers? They have gone out like meek little kittens this time. They have lost to the hosts and now they have lost to the rank outsiders.
"There is no way back for them. Spare a thought for Bob Woolmer and Inzamam ul-Haq, life isn't going to be pleasant for them in the coming weeks I can tell you that. The Pakistan public won't be swallowing this pill very easily at all."
Slater agreed, saying: "There will be huge ramifications. Bob Woolmer is probably going to go. Inzamam-ul-Haq, who is long in the tooth, he is probably going to be forced into retirement.
"That is the impact in that part of the world because they don't take loss lightly, particularly in a World Cup."
The impact on individuals and the team in Pakistan will be clearer in days to come but Saturday night was all about Ireland and a sensational climax to a tense and tight, low-scoring game.
Slater was enthralled by the finish and took time to praise the ICC, cricket's governing body, for helping its associate members, such as Ireland, develop and provide nights of such high drama.
He said: "When we were getting to the climax of it all you had the contrast. You had the Pakistan spectators praying, the Irish spectators were going bananas, it was just terrific stuff to watch. We are all dumfounded and can't believe what we have just witnessed.
"It is all about their preparation and getting some sort of quality competition before they arrrive, otherwise it would be farcical.
"There is a lot of criticism that the ICC have have come under, even still with them included, but we are seeing it all paying off, what the ICC is doing underneath and the infrastructure.
"These sides are all amateur, they all now, if they get through to the Super Eight, will have to apply for extended leave from work. That is why it is such a terrific story, although not so much for Pakistan."
Willis agreed, adding: "For Ireland it is absolutely incredible. Unbelievable scenes. For Croke Park, read Sabina Park, they are at home there alright. What a three days in their history. That dramatic tie against Zimbabwe and then this unbelievable win."
Ireland's World Cup dream continues on Friday when they will be looking to upset the hosts West Indies. Pakistan bow out against Zimbabwe on Wednesday, and should they win, they could send Ireland into the Super Eight.
Now that would be a party bigger even than St. Patrick's Day.