Ireland captain William Porterfield has backed his side to follow up the successful defence of their European Championship title with qualification for the World Twenty20 finals in England next year.
Having again shown, over the last week, they are, by some distance, the best Associate side in Europe, Ireland have four days to prove they are the best in the world below the top level in the shortest form of the game.
“We improved with every game this week (at the European Championships) and the confidence we’re taking from that means the lads are on a high and if we hit the ground running I feel we’re OK,” said Porterfield.
“Most of the guys are level headed enough to know Twenty20 cricket is a different story. We‘ll have a chat at the team meeting and work out what we want to do. We had a similar chat before the Holland game (on Monday) and hopefully the same thing will happen again.”
Ireland may have been short of their best against Norway, Denmark and Italy but without finding top gear their expected victories were never in doubt. In the ODIs, against the Dutch and, even more impressively against Scotland on Thursday, they raised the game when it mattered.
As National Coach Phil Simmons said after the Scottish game: “If we play cricket like that, we will scare the best teams in the world and will always win against an Associate.”
When a team goes out with that attitude they should be unbeatable against their peers and, if anything, the squad which takes on the same teams, plus Kenya, Bermuda and Canada at Stormont, starting today, is even stronger because Trent Johnston, the former Ireland captain is in team.
Johnston may have quit the ODI stage, but he can still play a major role with both bat and ball in the Twenty20 arena and, along with Kevin O’Brien, could be one of the most destructive players in the tournament.