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Cricket: Irish T20 hopes hit as series is wiped out

By Ian Callender

Ireland's four-match Twenty20 series against South Africa A has been cancelled because of the extreme wet weather in Leinster.

Following the abandonment on Monday morning of the first game in Oak Hill, seven hours before the scheduled start, and with the second game there today already in doubt, the South Africans, with Cricket Ireland’s agreement, have decided to return home.

Although the forecast is more encouraging for the end of the week, the unsettled weather is due to return on Sunday when the last game of the series was due at the new Malahide development. Indeed the ground conditions in Co Wicklow are so bad at the moment that the practice facilities are also flooded, so both teams agreed to go their separate ways.

Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom said: “We fully appreciate that the priority for Cricket South Africa is to give players that might be involved in the ICC World T20 every opportunity to get meaningful practice beforehand, which we cannot guarantee here, so we completely appreciate their decision.”

The premature end to the tour completes what must be one of the most rain-affected series Ireland have been involved in. Out of a possible 15 days of cricket, play took place on only seven and all but three were rain-affected. There were only two positive results.

It means that Ireland’s hopes of match practice ahead of the World Twenty20 will now be restricted to the three warm-up games in Sri Lanka. The squad leaves next Tuesday and their next match action is against Sri Lanka A the following Monday.

Coach Phil Simmons said: “It's been an incredibly frustrating season for all concerned and the South African tour has been particularly hard hit by the elements.

“There's no doubt that it's a serious blow to our preparations for the ICC World Twenty20 but we will have two weeks in Sri Lanka before our games against Australia and West Indies.”

The two official warm-up games, against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, will take place on September 13 and 17 with the first group game against Australia on Wednesday, September 19 in the Premadasa Stadium, Colombo.

Meanwhile, Paul Stirling confirmed his fitness after his shoulder injury by hitting 29 off 30 balls and taking two wickets on his return to the Middlesex team in yesterday’s CB40 win against Essex.

Ed Joyce led Sussex into the semi finals with a crushing nine wickets victory over Kent, and William Porterfield hit 43 off 45 balls as Warwickshire also reached the semis after beating Yorkshire.

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