The suspense lifts when the towering Irish new-ball bowler with a thick beard repeats, haltingly this time: “Sha-poor-ji Pa-llon-ji”. He further explains: “Our academy is sponsored by Shapoorji Pallonji. There is this guy called Mr Mistry, and he lives in Ireland and I think it came about through that and he wants to help develop cricket within Ireland.”
Ireland media manager Barry Chambers gives more details about the 10-year sponsorship deal that he says is “a multi-million Euro boost” to the game in his country. “In addition to holding the naming rights to the Cricket Ireland Academy, Shapoorji Pallonji will also become an official partner to Cricket Ireland,” he adds.
At the time of this tie-up, earlier this year, Shapoor Mistry, chairman, Shapoorji Pallonji (SP) Group said that as an Irish citizen, he feels this is a small contribution as a token of gratitude towards Ireland.
It is a lesser known fact that Pallonji Mistry, the founder of the SP group and father of Shapoor and Tata chief Cyrus Mistry, is an Irish citizen by virtue of getting married to Dublin-born Patsy. The Mistrys rule Ireland’s Fortune wealth list with Mistry Sr at No. 1.
For world cricket’s most-improved nation that continues to maintain its record of upsetting Test-playing teams at world cups, a helping hand from the Indian-Irish firm is timely. At the 2007 World Cup, the Ireland squad consisted of a postman, a teacher, an electrician, a handyman and other amateurs. Today it’s a fully-professional unit.
Mooney is an old boy from the Class of 2007 that scripted a fairytale in West Indies, defeating Pakistan and Bangladesh after their game against Zimbabwe ended in a tie. Back then, Mooney was an electrician. “I enjoyed my time as an electrician, now I am enjoying my time as a cricketer. A lot has changed since 2007, we have 23 contracted players who are full-time cricketers now,” he says, adding that facilities can still improve.
The Shapoorji Pallonji Academy is expected to strengthen the winds of change blowing across Irish cricket fields. An Ireland Cricket press statement quotes Shapoor Mistry as saying: “The development of the academy will help Irish cricket create a pipeline of world class cricketers.”
Cricket Ireland CEO Warren Deutrom says that the SP Group will “help us mould our nation’s cricketing future for at least the next 10 years”.
Kevin O’Brien, the team’s star all-rounder, points to an Ireland-India connection that goes beyond this recent sponsorship tie-up. It’s something he noticed during the 2011 World Cup, where his stunning ton helped Ireland beat England. “I know that Indian people support the Irish cricket team, it’s because the way we have played in the last eight years. We are the second most-supported team in India. It is a great thing to be a part of,” he says.
On Tuesday, at Hamilton, like on the field, even in the stands it will be tough to find bitter divisions. Both supporters will wave tricolours. The Irish flag too is saffron, white and green.