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Ireland have what it takes to make it to the next T20 World Cup, insists Ford


By Ian Callender

Graham Ford believes there is enough talent in the Ireland squad to move up the world Twenty20 rankings - and in time to qualify for the next global finals.

Six months after Ford succeeded John Bracewell as head coach he got his first sight of the team playing in the shortest format, and his honest assessment ahead of this weekend's double header against the Netherlands was "we need to improve quite a lot".

A Netherlands team missing nine first choice players won the first two games of the Tri-Series here in Holland by four runs and four wickets - margins which flattered the Ireland squad who are currently 17th out of 17 in the rankings.

But Ford insists "the talent is there, it's about fine tuning it".

He added: "I don't want to single out individuals, but some players have improved their cricket, some really take to this format (Simi Singh and James Shannon in the first two games) but every single player in the group has a lot to offer in T20 cricket, it is just about taking their game forward.

"I am quite excited about the make-up of the group and excited by the talent in the squad. There's a lot of hard work needs to be done and the boys are up for it, but it's about sharpening the skills before the next World Twenty20 Qualifiers."

That tournament is probably at least 18 months away, so by that measurement, time is on Ford and Ireland's side, but before the end of this month they face the might of India in two internationals, and if they do not want to be embarrassed in front of a capacity Malahide crowd they have only this weekend's games and the Ed Joyce testimonial in Arundel next Sunday to "be better in improving our plans".

Ford said: "We have some good strikers of the ball in the squad and good athletes - attributes which are important in T20 cricket - while the bowlers are probably going for too many boundaries at the minute and not squeezing enough dot balls, especially when a new batter comes in.

"There are so many areas you have to stay on top of, but the guys are aware of them," Ford added.

It will be no easier against the Scots today and tomorrow (both 4pm BST) as they are ranked higher than the Dutch and have travelled here with a much stronger squad.

Bowler Boyd Rankin, still being eased back after injury, was the only fitness doubt ahead of the game.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan's first Test match ended in two days, bowled out twice by India in Bengaluru in less than 67 overs for 103 and 109.

In all, 24 wickets fell yesterday, the most in a single day for 116 years with Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja taking 12 of them as India won by an innings and 262 runs.

The first T20 international between Ireland and India is on Wednesday week.

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