Belfast Telegraph

Cricket: ICC chief eases Ireland’s grounds for concern

Ireland may have to wait another two weeks before they get the go-ahead to travel to Kolkata for their last two group games in the World Cup.



But the indications from the International Cricket Council are that the biggest stadium in India will be fit to stage Ireland’s games against South Africa on March 15 and the Netherlands three days later.

The ground has already been ruled “unfit” to stage the glamour game between India and England on February 27 but the ICC’s inspection team will make two more visits, next Monday and on Tuesday week.

This week, ICC said that good progress has been made and they expect Eden Gardens will be ready to stage the other scheduled games.

Meanwhile, fears that another of Ireland’s matches would be moved from its original venue have been quashed by the World Cup organisers.

The Cricket Association of Bengal (Kolkata) asked if Ireland’s game against India on March 6 could be switched to Eden Gardens as compensation for losing the England match.

But, in a statement, ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said: “That will be extremely difficult. A shifting requires all sorts of logistical changes which may not be possible in such a short duration.”

So, for the moment, Ireland’s original itinerary remains in place wtih their first match, against Bangladesh in Dhaka, on February 25.

The squad arrived in India yesterday, amid tight security, from Dubai and William Porterfield will hold his first official press conference there this morning.

It will be the captain’s first comments since Ireland lost both their 12-a-side games this week, against Zimbabwe and Kenya, the two teams below them in the ODI world rankings.

The absence of strike bowler Boyd Rankin is bound to be cited but, more worrying is the form of the middle order batsmen who will have to score heavily on the fast-scoring Indian pitches if Ireland are to repeat their success of the 2007 finals in the Caribbean when they reached the reached the last eight.

Kevin O’Brien did not score a run in Dubai, Gary Wilson totalled five in the two games, John Mooney six and Alex Cusack 11 while Niall O’Brien (18) and Paul Stirling (20) were also out early.

The good news on their arrival in Mumbai yesterday, en route to Nagpur where they will play New Zealand and India on Saturday and Tuesday respectively in official warm-up games, is that Rankin looks supremely fit and raring to go after a spending 10-days at the Dennis Lillee Bowling Academy.

Rankin was Ireland’s leading wicket-taker in the West Indies four years ago.

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