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Bracewell warns pack is closing in on Ireland

By Ian Callender

Ireland have been warned that they will have to continue to up their game if they want to say top dog in the level below Test cricket - by their own coach.

This is John Bracewell's first involvement in an exclusively Associate-team tournament and he has been impressed by what he has seen.

In his first comment on the World Twenty20 Qualifiers, ahead of Ireland's semi-final in Malahide tomorrow afternoon, the Kiwi, who took over from Phil Simmons in May, says the chasing pack is closing in on his side.

"First of all, I love tournaments but I've been pleased at the skill level. Not all teams have an equal amount of depth but most teams have cricketers that could succeed in any country in the world. Given harder cricket those stars would come through," said Bracewell.

"Inconsistency of all teams has been a feature of the tournament and it shows the level the Associate teams are getting to; the playing field is getting more even because they are getting more fixtures.

"There is a real pro-active movement to play more cricket and, as a consequence, you are going to get closer matches. It is not going to be about one team dominating. More teams are investing in their cricket and the standard (in this tournament) has been very good."

Ireland, as No 1 seeds and winners of the last two editions of the tournament, were expected to go through their seven-team group unbeaten but, for the first time, they lost not one but two games, back to back, which left them needing no fewer than five results to go their way over the last two days, as well as having to win their last game against Jersey.

Bracewell was impressed by the way his side bounced back.

"We won the crucial game and some things went our way.

"The back to back defeats are not my history, I'm only involved in this tournament and the proximity of the teams has surprised me, but it is a pleasant surprise. There are some very good cricketers here and I will keep emphasising that.

"You have to give credit to the opposition (who beat us), they exposed us in certain areas. But the guys have worked hard to address those issues, maybe a little deeper than they needed to, taking on too much individual responsibility.

"It is a team game but it up to you to do your job and the next guy to do his. Cricket is as simple as that and it needs to be kept that simple."

When asked what Ireland did wrong in the defeats to Papau New Guinea and Hong Kong, Bracewell's reply was simplified to nine words: "We overcommitted to the outcome rather than the process."

And taking that to the nth degree, the Ireland coach said he was not looking to win the tournament, rather just to tomorrow's game against the Netherlands.

"Our objectives are to put performances together and work through the processes for the long term objective.

"Part of that is winning games of cricket and as a consequence somebody might give you a trophy at the end of it.

"You obviously have to win the game and the next game and we are not looking any further ahead than the Dutch game and will worry about the following game after that.

"We are reacting to different obstacles that come across us, that oppositions put in our way. Their job is not to make life easy. But our guys are very thorough in the way they appraise and review and we are very much on course."

Belfast Telegraph


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