Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 28 February 2015

Phil Simmons focused on crucial Dubai warm-up

Phil Simmons is pleased Ireland will not have to travel for their first match
Phil Simmons is pleased Ireland will not have to travel for their first match

The Ireland squad head to Dubai today for 10 days' preparation ahead of the World Twenty20 qualifiers in the UAE, still trying to confirm match practice ahead of the 16-day tournament.

The uncertainty sums up the last month for Cricket Ireland who had hoped to gain meaningful action in the sub-continent but Sri Lanka was quickly ruled out by the seasonal rain and India, despite promises, failed to deliver.

National Coach Phil Simmons, as ever, was philosophical at the setbacks and stressed the positives.

"We will have good grounds on which to practice, we will have nets, fielding sessions and will do what is necessary," he said.

"At least we will not have far to travel for our first match," said the West Indian.

ICC have also told the team they must travel home after the World Twenty20 qualifying final, in Abu Dhabi on November 30, and then return a week later for the Interncontinental Cup showdown, against Afghanistan, in Dubai starting on December 10, "to save on costs".

It is a familiar battle between the leading Associate nation and the sport's governing body but Ireland will continue to fight, on and off the field, until they get the chance to play alongside the elite on a regular basis.

Ireland will have 15 opponents in the qualifying tournament, which starts on November 15, but with six teams going through to the finals in Bangladesh, a lack of preparation should not affect their chances of progress to the latter stages.

But as Simmons said on the eve of departure: "We are a team who don't take part just to qualify, we are going to win the tournament."

Anything else will be failure.

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