It is not so much the luck of the Irish which opponents will have to look out for in the Twenty20 World Cup, it is their tenacity of purpose and fighting spirit that might cause a few surprises.
Make no mistake about it, Ireland will not win this championship but they are pesky enough to stop one of the Test-playing nations from getting the chance to do so.
The potential threat to the established teams which Ireland pose is perhaps best exemplified by the fact that in the One-Day International arena they have previously beaten Pakistan, England, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. They might not have reached such heady heights in T20s but an upset win is never far around the corner in this compressed format. And they do not lack in confidence or self-belief.
“We are confident with ourselves, with what we’ve got in terms of player potential,” captain William Porterfield said. “Craig McDermott (who recently joined as Ireland’s bowling coach) has fit in pretty well, working with the bowlers. They’ve been taking confidence from him with the fact that he was with Australia before us but he’s come in and he’s seen what we’ve got and he’s got a lot of confidence within the squad that we can go out there and beat anyone.
“Several of their players ply their trade on the county circuit in England, and in the case of Ed Joyce, has actually played international cricket for England. Joyce featured in both the 2007 and 2011 ICC World Cups. In 6ft, 7in Boyd Rankin the Irish have a potent opening bowler, good enough many say, to be considered for the full England line-up. Left-arm orthodox spinner George Dockrell has an economy rate of just over five runs per over in 17 T20 internationals and in the slam-bam atmosphere of this format that sort of frugality is noteworthy.
In addition to Joyce, Irish runs are expected to come from Porterfield, Paul Stirling, Niall O’Brien and his explosive brother Kevin O’Brien. Kevin’s 50-ball century off a stunned England attack at the 2011 World Cup has quickly become a part of Irish folklore.
Their best batsman in this format has been Porterfield with 475 runs in 28 matches at a strike rate of 116. 13. Veteran Trent Johnson has been their best bowler with 29 wickets in 25 matches at an economy rate of 6.16.
The Irish are in Zone B with the unpredictable West Indies whom they have played once previously and lost, as well as Australia, whom they have never played in T20 internationals.Ireland play their first game against Australia on September 19 in a day/night encounter at the R.Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.Tournament predictions – An early plane back to Great Britain.
Squad: Andrew White, Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Max Sorensen, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O’Brien, Trent Johnson, Niall O’Brien, Ed Joyce, William Porterfield, George Dockrell, Nigel Jones, Alex Cusack, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson
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