Ireland have the chance to crown the most memorable period in their cricket history when they defend the International Cricket Council (ICC) Intercontinental Cup against Canada.
Having surprised everyone to reach the Super 8 phase of the recent World Cup, they will start favourites for the four-day match here at Leicester on Tuesday (today). But they will be without key players like Boyd Rankin, Andre Botha and keeper Niall O’Brien. “I have every confidence in the players coming in,” said coach Phil Simmons.
Rankin and O’Brien are absent because of county contracts with Derbyshire and Northants, but Middlesex have agreed to release batsman Eoin Morgan for the game and he is in form after making 100 off 94 balls against Essex on Sunday.
Thinus Fourie is set to take Rankin’s place as Dave Langford-Smith’s new ball partner, while Gary Wilson continues behind the stumps, having replaced O’Brien in the team’s recent Friends Provident Trophy games.
The biggest problem facing the Irish could be fatigue —their performances against the English county sides suggesting the World Cup campaign has clearly taken a toll on some players. “There is a lot of tiredness involved at the moment, but they’ll be up for this match — no question about that,” insisted Simmons, who appeared at Grace Road on many occasions for Leicestershire during his playing career.
“I think the fact it is a four-day game will help. It is a little easier on the body playing the longer form of the game as opposed to the constant barrage of One-day Internationals (ODIs),” he explained.
Canada have changed captains since their World Cup adventure ended at the first round stage, with Ashish Bagai taking over from John Davison. But all-rounder Davison remains in the squad and will be a key figure as they attempt to go one better than in 2004 when they lost the first Intercontinental Cup final to Scotland.
“We know the Ireland team quite well — they are a fighting side, they do the basics very well and they play within their limits,” said Bagai. “Doing so well in the World Cup, they have been playing a lot more cricket than us and that is certainly an advantage for them, but we are hoping perhaps that they’ll be a little stale,” he explained.
He added: “I think this competition is great. Playing longer cricket really challenges your technique and gives you the skills that can also be applied to one-day cricket. “You have to trust in your ability and show a lot more patience than one-day cricket. Stamina and fitness are also factors. There is a danger for the (ICC) associates to concentrate too much on one-day cricket, which is why this event is so important,” he explained.
Squads: Canada (from): A Bagai (captain), A Samad, A Mulla, A Codrington, G Barnett, H Osinde, J Davison, K Sandher, N Patel, S Jyoti, T Bastiampillai, U Bhatti, Q Ali; Ireland (from): T Johnston (captain), J Bray, W Porterfield, E Morgan, K O’Brien, G Wilson, P Gillespie, A White, K McCallan, D Langford-Smith, T Fourie, K Carroll, R Whelan.
Source:The NewsMore on:Canada, icc, Intercontinental Cup, International Cricket Council, Ireland, Super Eight, World Cup
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007 and is filed under Cricket.
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