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Cassell calling on Irish bowlers to be aggressive


By Ian Callender

When Ireland start their three-match one-day series against Afghanistan in Sharjah this afternoon, the one link between the outgoing and incoming coach is an Australian who had been in Ireland only once "as a back-packer a long time ago".

Rob Cassell was appointed in May as assistant coach and national fast bowling lead, but didn't arrive until Ireland's game against the West Indies at Stormont in September because of visa problems.

That game was postponed without a ball bowled, so Cassell saw his players in action for the first time last week in Dubai - more than six months after his appointment - but he was impressed by what he saw in their I-Cup victory over Scotland.

"We bowled some good wicket-taking balls and got the ball to reverse swing, so if you do that right you will win most matches," said the 35-year-old from Melbourne.

He moved to Ireland from exactly the same post with South Australia, accepted as having the best bowling group in the Sheffield Shield, saying it was the right time to join Cricket Ireland as they prepare for a new era and Test cricket.

Cassell singled out the end-of-match spell by Boyd Rankin, who had the Scottish batsmen hopping around in a terrific burst of fast bowling. "That's what we have to do. We have to be aggressive, we can't just put the ball in play, and Boyd, being the giant that he is, can get a few around their ears and that has to be part of every bowling attack," he said.

Complementing Rankin's pace is Tim Murtagh, who, in Cassell's words, "makes the ball talk, and is a senior player for us who is cool under pressure and somebody the guys look to to perform in the middle".

But having also been in Bangladesh for three weeks with the Ireland Wolves, the Australian is happy that he has plenty to work with and insists there is competition for places.

"There's a lot to like about the bowling group. Jacob Mulder is a young spinner who has a bright future, Peter Chase can bowl a heavy ball, Barry McCarthy has good air speed and Nathan Smith is another who has good skills and execution. We have a good balance of speed, medium pace accuracy and spin so we have all bases covered.

"There were a couple of guys (McCarthy and Mulder) who were not involved last week but were training well, and it's up to the coaches to develop those guys and to put pressure on the 11 at the moment," said Cassell.

"I'm not sure if there will be any changes (for this week's games) but it's up to me to make that job difficult for the selectors by having the batsmen and bowlers match ready."

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