Belfast Telegraph

Injury forces Botha to take back seat against Aussies

By Ian Callender

Andre Botha is out of tomorrow's one-day international against world champions Australia at Clontarf (10.45am).

The Ireland all-rounder saw a specialist this morning because of a persistent back pain and it is feared he could be ruled out of all cricket for up to three weeks.

Although he has been out of form with the bat, culminating in two failures with the ‘A' team in Sussex last week, Botha was expected to win his 133rd cap tomorrow as a specialist bowler, but now National coach Phil Simmons needs to replace him for both next week's games against West Indies A at Stormont and the World League in Holland the following fortnight.

Tomorrow's clash comes three years after the Aussies bowled out Ireland for 91 on their way to retaining the World Cup in Barbados and Simmons knows the squad will have to perform at their peak just to get closer.

“That game showed how Australia can demolish teams; they’ve done it to bigger teams than us. We have to make sure on the day that we’re sharp and ready to go and looking to cause an upset by playing well,” said Simmons.

“The bowling has been special since before 2007 but the batsmen have to deliver.

“They have to make sure that if the bowlers do well and we field like we can field and we limit teams well, then they have to go out there and show they can do their part of the job too.

“You can’t bowl and field well and not bat well. That was one of the things we took into the England game in the World Twenty20, that we needed to bat a lot better.

“It’s hard because we don’t have as much time together but the good thing is that there are five guys coming from England.”

Unfortunately three of those —Boyd Rankin, Gary Wilson and Paul Stirling — are, for the moment, only periphery members of their county sides.

Niall O’Brien’s broken finger is restricting him to Twenty20 matches for Northants, leaving only captain William Porterfield with regular first team action.

The Aussies, led by the great Ricky Ponting and including Michael Clarke, Mike Hussey, Shane Watson and Cameron White, have much to prove ahead of a five-match series against England, starting next Tuesday.

For Ireland, this is their big day. It’s the first time they have hosted the Aussies in a match with ODI ranking points at stake and while victory would be massive, even a near miss would keep Ireland knocking on the door to get among the elite on a regular basis.

Belfast Telegraph

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