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Coach John Bracewell is keen to move up the order

By Ian Callender

Published 05/02/2016

John Bracewell
John Bracewell

The Ireland players were given only one day to celebrate their latest Intercontinental Cup victory here in Townsville, Australia, the longer format at which they remain the undisputed kings in Associate cricket.

However, for the next seven months it will be white ball (limited overs) cricket all the way with the next major event on the agenda the World Twenty20 in March.

And in the shortest format of the game, Ireland have slipped down the rankings since winning the qualifying tournament in 2013 for the last World Twenty20.

Ireland are currently 15th with Scotland, Netherlands and Hong Kong - who have all defeated Ireland in the last year - above them so coach John Bracewell admits there is much work to be done ahead of their opening game in India on March 9.

Match preparation for that tournament begins tomorrow (4am GMT) with the first of three T20 internationals - the other two are on Sunday and Tuesday - against Papua New Guinea, the team who beat Ireland at Stormont in the qualifying tournament in July, and they are sure to be just as competitive and much more dangerous than in their four-day game which Ireland won by 145 runs.

Boyd Rankin and Tim Murtagh are almost certain to be Ireland's opening bowlers in India but they may sit out tomorrow's opener following their huge I-Cup workload.

Bracewell said: "We have been really pleased with the way we have dealt with the conditions here. It has been very tough on everyone and with the fast bowlers in particular we will wait and see who is ready to play in the first match.

"Stuart Thompson's foot has healed well and the guys not playing in the four-day game have been working hard on white ball skills this week so we have a lot of options."

Meanwhile, Ireland lost their ninth-place play-off at the Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh by eight wickets, but they kept South Africa in the middle until the 46th over.

Lorcan Tucker top scored with 77 not out in Ireland's 185 for seven but no-one else managed more than 20 in a side which included World Cup debutants Andrew Austin from Bready and Strabane's Aaron Gillespie.

Adam Dennison was then one of the more unlikely wicket-takers, as the Waringstown batsman conceded only 27 runs in eight overs.

Belfast Telegraph

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