Age often plays a decisive factor toward spurring one to great performances.
Warne was 23 when he debuted in Tests. We know Sachin as that child prodigy.
The rest is history.
You’re far more likely to succeed if you begin early.
Well, to a great extent- yes. But is that a rule of the thumb?
For someone who arrived in international cricket at 28, an age where most have already secured their spot or are busy approaching milestones, Ed Joyce is the holder of a career that serves a lesson in perception change.
Rather it begs a question.
Have we attached far too much significance to the youth?
Arriving in 2006 and marking his final appearance not before 2018, Ed Joyce’s run in international cricket pays testimony to the fact that it’s not always about how early you begin, but for how long can you last that truly also defines success.
In a sport obsessed with numbers, longevity is probably underrated nowadays.
But when one looks at the likes of the O’ Brien brothers and someone like Ed Joyce, you are reminded about the importance of consistency and continuity.
Ed Joyce’ is a journey of determination and resolve, a career that, in hindsight seems far too brief for it manifested in 1 Test, 78 ODIs, and 18 T20Is.
But, if you were to dive a bit deeper, you realize the Irishman competed at the highest level for well over a decade.
A couple of years back, when inarguably one of Ireland’s most successful batsman of all time called time on a career, it prompted an interesting assessment of sorts.
Those who’ve seen the calming batting and that innate ability to count in pressure situations were led to choose from a perplexing question.
Should one of Ireland’s most recognised cricketing faces have continued well into (the early) 40s? Or should a sense of abiding contentment be felt for a man who played his part in giving his country a strong identity?
For truth be told, every nation desires a hero, someone whose successes and efforts shape its identity, its journey.
In 2006, when the Dublin-born arrived, England had the services of Strauss and Pietersen, New Zealand had McCullum, Taylor and Guptill while Sri Lanka had Dilshan as the West Indies had Gayle, Bravo and Chanderpaul.
Big names for mighty fine sides.
But frankly speaking, few teams have seemed as dependent on a singular force for its rise as Ireland in Ed Joyce’ case.
We spare great love for the one that flowers a venerable garden and harvests great produce.
But about the one who sows the seeds?
Probably, it may not be wrong to say that Ed Joyce- who conducted himself diligently and with dignity throughout his career- was among those who laid the foundation to Ireland’s cricket and it’s notable improvements throughout what has been a tumultuous, action-packed decade.
A lot about Irish cricket is changing and making way for a great influx of talent than perhaps there ever was.
Today, you as a fan you don’t fret even as the great Tim Murtagh has called it a day for the likes of Adair seem capable to take the nation’s cricket to higher levels.
In Andrew Balberinie, you’ve got as fine a leader as you had when William Porterfield led the side to perhaps their greatest moment in modern cricket: the famous Lord’s Test debut.
There is hope in George Dockrell and a lot of promise in Simi Singh.
But the growing tree was once a small sapling nourished by much care and passion by the likes of Ed Joyce.
From 78 ODIs, the technically correct top-order batsman compiled a very healthy tally of nearly 2,700 runs.
And he was no slouch with answering big responsibilities, stroking 6 half-centuries and 15 intentional hundreds.
But perhaps it’s only when we speak of other cricketing luminaries, those around since 2006 such as Dhoni, Guptill, Gayle, Bravo, Shoaib Malik, Hafeez, and the likes- that we attest flowery adjectives of praise for they countered belligerent bowling attacks.
The likes of Johnson, Watson, and Lee, Malinga, Roach, Anderson, Broad, to name a few.
But did Ed Joyce not stand up to these attacks too?
An average of 32 against Bangladesh, 64 against the West Indies, 30.5 against Pakistan and 68 against Afghanistan suggested that Ed Joyce was often up against noted attacks against whom he showed up that quintessential Irish composure.
Surely firing 615 of his 2622 ODI runs against a Rashid Khan, Gulbadin Naib, Mujeeb, and Mohd. Nabi-led attack may not have come easy.
Just like scoring a daunting tally of 256 runs from just 4 contests versus the West Indies would’ve been anything but easy, standing up to Jerome Taylor, Fidel Edwards, and Kemar Roach.
But it’s surprising how much we have in a permanently inexhaustible stock for noted sides and established names.
We wax lyrical all day about a Williamson and Root, how we can argue even with a sore throat on who plays the cover drive better – Babar or Kohli?
Surely they’re legends and must be feted
But it’s sad in equal measure that we reserve so little about teams that are conveniently just stuffed in a corner even as there are giants in teams called minnow!
When Ed Joyce stroked his way to a masterly 160 against Afghanistan in 2016 at Belfast enabling his team to beat Asghar Afghan’s team, he didn’t just notch up a personal best score.
He sent out a dignified disclaimer to the others wanting to take Ireland lightly: “try it at your own peril!!”
It’s important to reflect on an unbendable truth
The legacy that unquestionable contemporary heroes like Kevin O’Brien and Paul Stirling are taking to new highs was once set by the likes of Ed Joyce.
Who may not have amassed a whirlwind wealth of runs but helped Ireland take baby steps and grow in stature over the years.
Which is why we got to tip our hat to an undersung figure in this great game of ours.
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