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Ford wants more from Ireland as he eyes progress

Step up: Graham Ford is keen to see improvement
Step up: Graham Ford is keen to see improvement

By Ian Callender

While Ireland can talk about the injustice of the run-out decision which denied them victory in the second one-day international, the record books will show a 3-0 series win for West Indies after decisive margins in the other two games.

The bottom line is that the batsmen under-performed - not one managed 100 runs across the series - and despite the efforts of the bowlers, they just hadn't enough runs to play with, although the hosts added 90 for the last three wickets to win the second game.

It was always going to be a difficult tour - Ireland's first away ODI series for 10 months - and it's going to get harder with three Twenty20 internationals between the teams, starting in Grenada tomorrow and concluding in St Kitts under the lights on Saturday and Sunday nights.

The difference in ranking between the teams in the ODIs was just two places (ninth v 11th) and in the shortest format it is four (10th v 14th) but no one is taking much notice of the Windies' low grade.

They are the current T20 World Cup champions, after beating England in the 2016 final, and, indeed, are the only two-time winners, having also won the 2012 tournament.

West Indies will have World Cup winner Dwayne Bravo back in their ranks this week after the 37-year-old was recalled, primarily as a "death bowler", while Ireland have 20-year-olds Josh Little and Harry Tector joining the squad, along with George Dockrell.

William Porterfield, who did not field in the final ODI because of a pulled muscle in his side, James McCollum and Andy McBrine head home.

Ireland coach Graham Ford said: "We have to be realistic, we are up against one of the best T20 teams. This is their game, so it will be tough but an exciting challenge.

"Once again it is about progress, trying to find players who are ready to play at this level, making them more comfortable at this level.

"We have two agendas this year, we have to get better at 50-over (ODI) cricket and look to do something special at the T20 World Cup in Australia."

Despite the series result, Ford believes this is an ODI team which is improving.

"The fielding in all three games has been outstanding," he added. "The spinners (Simi Singh and McBrine) have done themselves proud, Barry McCarthy has shown real promise and progress and I know the batting group will be determined to get better to be productive.

"Our batsmen were not out of touch, they all looked in nick and I'd like to believe that spending time in the middle against this quality of opposition will only do them good down the line.

"But we lost wickets at regular intervals (there were only two 50 partnerships), that was the trend and some people are going to have to find a way to release that pressure and the best way is to rotate the strike.

"So there has to be patience, we've a busy year of cricket and we need steady improvement."

Meanwhile, CIYMS will start their defence of the NCU Premier League on the last Saturday in April away to Civil Service North.

In the other opening-day fixtures, which have just been released, Carrickfergus host North Down, Waringstown face Instonians and newly-promoted Woodvale are at home to Lisburn.

Saturday, June 13 - the second day of the T20 Inter-provincial Trophy festival at Comber -and June 27 - when Ireland play New Zealand in a one-day international - are closed dates.

The final round of games, on August 29, is CIYMS v Woodvale, Instonians v Carrickfergus, Lisburn v North Down, and Waringstown v CSN.

The draw for the first round of the Gallagher Challenge Cup takes place this evening.

Belfast Telegraph


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