Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

African adventure turns sour for Irish cricketers

The Ireland squad are set to lose a night’s sleep tomorrow when they travel to Nairobi for the crucial Intercontinental Cup clash against Kenya, starting on Saturday.

Senior players are angry that, instead of spending the night in a Johannesburg hotel and completing the second leg of the trip from Windhoek on Thursday morning, they are scheduled to leave South Africa at 12.40am and arrive in the Kenya capital at 5.50am.

In all, it will be 15 hours journey because their fight out of Namibia leaves at 3pm tomorrow and they have a seven and a half hour wait in Johannesburg airport for their connecting flight.

Hardly the transport arrangements a Test side would expect to undertake less than 72 hours before what is, in effect, a cup semi-final.

A players’ spokesman for the Ireland team said: “It’s just not on. We’ve all made sacrifices to be here — one of us has even resigned from his job — and we get treated like this.

“No-one expects to be flying first-class but some consideration has to be given to the players’ welfare.

“The obvious thing to do would have been to spend Wednesday night in Johannesburg and you can’t help feeling the only thing that matters here is saving money — at our expense.”

National coach Phil Simmons is trying to remain focused on the job in hand but their countdown to the game was further interrupted yesterday by a thief breaking into the Ireland dressing room during yesterday’s training session at the Wanderers Club.

A wedding ring, credit cards, a wallet, mobile phone, designer sunglasses, a watch, two Ipods and around 3,300 Namibian dollars (£220) was stolen with six players left worse off.

At least the Ireland bowlers ensured they ended on the right side of the result and Simmons is confident they can now go on and reach their third successive final, against Namibia, which yesterday was confirmed for Port Elizabeth from October 30 to November 3, the venue where they enjoyed such great hospitality and match preparation ahead of last year’s World Cup finals.

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