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McBrine and Delany asked real questions of us, says Simmons

High praise: Andy McBrine
High praise: Andy McBrine

By Ian Callender

West Indies coach Phil Simmons singled out Andy McBrine and Gareth Delany for special mention after the one-day international series as the former Ireland chief looked ahead to this afternoon's first Twenty20 international in Grenada (5pm GMT).

Simmons is still familiar with the majority of the Ireland squad after eight years in charge as they moved from Associate to Full Member status, but Delany, despite failing to reach 20 in either innings, earned his praise.

"He didn't get better scores but was prepared to take on the bowling," said Simmons.

"The main guys didn't get big scores, so it was good that we kept them quiet, but Delany was the stand-out from the players I didn't know. McBrine also bowled well up top."

Simmons will no doubt be aware that Ireland have identified Delany as a T20 specialist, and although Paul Stirling and Kevin O'Brien are set to continue their prolific opening partnership, Delany and skipper Andrew Balbirnie complete a formidable top four.

The big test, however, even more so than in the ODI series, will be for the bowlers, trying to tame the West Indies' big hitters.

Captain Kieron Pollard and Evin Lewis both topped 100 runs in the recent T20 series in India at strike rates in excess of 150, and that was bettered by the talent of Nik Pooran, who scored 38 from 18 balls to charge the tourists to victory in the second of the three-game series.

The Windies' T20 line-up is a more experienced side so, in the words of Simmons, "should see a lot more boxes being ticked". His only hope for Ireland is that "rankings don't matter".

"India are the world's No.2 side and we beat them, so we will take nothing for granted," he added. An ominous warning for Ireland, if one was needed.

Simmons also hailed William Porterfield, his captain for the last seven years of his time as coach, for playing in his 300th match for Ireland last week.

"I'm so happy for him but certainly not surprised - and he played more than two thirds of them as captain. He has brought Irish cricket a long way and it's good he can reach that landmark," said Ireland's most successful coach.

West Indies (from): K Pollard (capt), D Bravo, S Cottrell, S Hetmyer, B King, E Lewis, K Pierre, N Pooran, R Powell, S Rutherford, R Shepherd, L Simmons, H Walsh, K Williams.

Ireland (from): A Balbirnie (capt), M Adair, G Delany, G Dockrell, J Little, B McCarthy, K O'Brien, B Rankin, S Singh, P Stirling, H Tector, L Tucker, G Wilson, C Young.

• Gallagher Challenge Cup holders CIYMS were last night handed what appears a straightforward opening defence away to Donaghcloney Mill, who finished fourth in Section One last season.

The match of the round will be at Shaw's Bridge, a repeat of last year's quarter-final when Instonians knocked out Waringstown on their way to the final.

Gallagher Challenge Cup first round draw: Downpatrick or Cliftonville Academy v Woodvale, Instonians v Waringstown, Carrickfergus v Muckamore, Donaghcloney Mill v CIYMS, Cregagh v Lisburn, North Down v Armagh or Saintfield, Ballymena v Civil Service North, Derriaghy v Templepatrick. Preliminary round on April 25; First round on May 9.

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