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Ireland chief Holdsworth defends cost of tour amid frustrating wait to see if UAE fixtures can be replayed



Craig Young has admitted his frustrations

Craig Young has admitted his frustrations

Craig Young has admitted his frustrations

The wait goes on for the Ireland squad. Seven days after their first game in the UAE, they still do not know when the second will be.

Following the positive Covid-19 tests of four UAE players, the whole squad were put into quarantine on Monday - self-isolating in their hotel rooms - and, as per government law, were not allowed to leave until they had negative test results.

Last night, Cricket Ireland were still awaiting to hear if the series could continue, but with the first of the three World Cup Super League games against Afghanistan next Thursday, time is running out.

The Ireland squad travelled in the expectation of four games against the UAE and that plan has already been reduced to a maximum of three, but as long as the Ireland players know before their training session this morning, they would be ready to play tomorrow and, if that takes place, a third match could be arranged for Monday.

However, with only one competitive match since their arrival in Abu Dhabi 19 days ago, Cricket Ireland have had to defend the cost of the tour, including flying out a 17th player as a net bowler.

"We have paid for the UAE leg in the main but will get back some broadcast income," explained CI High Performance Director Richard Holdsworth. "The Afghan leg is their cost entirely as the hosts pay the cost of FTP (Future Tour Programme) series.

"The tour is also a camp (which obviously couldn't take place in Ireland at this time of the year) and so it's not just about matches. That investment is being utilised and no training has been cancelled."

As for the net bowler (Bready's Conor Olphert), Holdsworth added: "David Delany has had to return home because of injury, another player is recovering from Covid and with no local players allowed to train with us - as would normally happen - it was a necessary decision."

North Down's Craig Young is the most experienced member of the bowling attack, with 63 caps since his debut in 2013. He admits it has been a frustrating week without cricket.

"Yes, it's been frustrating not knowing if the games will go ahead, but we know we are very fortunate to be out here. For me personally, the training has been a chance to work on finding my rhythm," he said.

"All the lads are putting the hard yards in as we all know how important the games on the horizon are.

"Fortunately the facilities are great, they are very similar to the types of wicket we will be playing on."

It was a disappointing first game for Ireland - the UAE won by six wickets - and Young, who bowled nine wicketless overs at more than a run a ball. It was definitely a case of "some clearing of cobwebs".

He added: "Of course I'd wanted to have gone better but it can take a while sometimes to find the rhythm I like when I bowl. Some people find it in the first net, some not for a week later.

"The pitch played quite slow and there wasn't much lateral movement, but we hoped to get the ball to reverse later on in the innings. Unfortunately that didn't happen in the first game.

"As a unit we could do better - although some guys did bowl very nicely.

"I'm sure when we get the chance we will come back stronger in the next game."

Belfast Telegraph