Belfast Telegraph

Cricket: Ireland coach Simmons backing Hall to shine again

By Ian Callender

National coach Phil Simmons gave a vote of confidence to James Hall on the eve of Ireland’s first match at the World Cricket League.

Hall could be the answer to Ireland’s problem in the opening batting slot today, when they take on Kenya in Rotterdam. The Waringstown batsman scored 34 in Tuesday’s warm-up game against Canada, justifying his late call-up to the squad — as replacement for Gary Wilson — and Simmons’ confidence in him.

“James has played well for the ‘A’ team before and he is our senior batsman, bar Jeremy Bray in that squad. He has also been part of the international team before, he got runs at Northants last year (in the Friends Provident Trophy) and he has a chance to break back in,” said Simmons.

It was Simmons’ preference to play his starting line-up for today’s game against the Canadians but Andrew White woke up with a recurrence of the back problem which troubled him during his innings against West Indies A at Stormont last Friday and Alex Cusack was suffering from shin splints so Hall got his chance.

But at least after a run of poor games by the batsmen, they came good in the final warm-up — scoring 260 for four in 46 overs — and that is a huge encouragement for the whole squad.

“The batsmen haven’t been doing well but now that it has fired, hopefully we can keep that going throughout the tournament,” said Simmons. “Warm-up games are all about seeing how sharp you are, getting the formation of the team and the basic plan of how they are going to fit into the roles.”

Now for the real thing and with Kenya the only other team in the main ODI rankings table, it is Ireland’s most important match of the week. Victory and they will edge closer to Zimbabwe in 10th place but defeat would see a swing of 15 points with the Kenyans in 12th.

Belfast Telegraph

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