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New skipper Wilson wants Irish to cut off shackles


By Ian Callender

Everyone was still talking about Scotland's stunning performance in Edinburgh on Sunday when the Ireland squad arrived last night for the opening game of the Tri-Series against Netherlands this evening (4pm BST).

Ireland will face the cock-a-hoop Scots on Saturday and Sunday in Deventer and can only hope it will be a case of After the Lord Mayor's Show when they renew acquaintances with their oldest adversary.

Scotland's first ever victory against England has set the new standard for the underdogs but shows that anything is possible if batsmen go out with nothing to lose and play with freedom.

Ireland have already been on the wrong end of such an innings - against the Dutch in Bangladesh four years ago at the World Twenty20 when, needing a virtually impossible 189 in 14 overs to reach the second phase and knock out the Irish, they did just that.

Today's clash will be the third meeting between the teams since, and the Dutch have also won the previous two, the last a game reduced to six overs which Ireland lost by 12 runs.

There are only five survivors from that wet night in Dharmashala, although one of them is now captain, with Gary Wilson taking over from William Porterfield who is back in the ranks after captaining Ireland in all 90 of his previous T20 games.

Wilson, keen to make a favourable impression, wants Ireland's batsmen to show the same freedom as the Scots did on Sunday in a format in which he is particularly comfortable.

"My view is that with Twenty20 cricket you encourage players to play with a lot of freedom," said Wilson.

"The way to do that is to be nice and relaxed about the way we go into our cricket. This is really an enjoyable format and - with either bat or the ball in hand - the guys should view this as a great opportunity to showcase their skills.

"The key message that I will be getting across is to back your ability.

"If someone feels like they can really shoot the lights out on any particular day then we've got to let them play with that sense of freedom."

Despite being the Full Member nation, Ireland go into the series as the lowest ranked T20 team, but Wilson is concentrating only on his own players and their performances.

"We have guys in good form with Paul Stirling scoring big runs in the 50-over Cup in England and it will be good to see what James Shannon and Craig Young can offer," continued Wilson.

The series is also coach Graham Ford's first sight of Ireland in T20 action since he took over in December, but by next Sunday night he will have a good idea of which players will be involved in the next World Twenty20 Qualifiers, which get under way in less than two years' time.

Squad: G Wilson (capt), A Balbirnie, P Chase, G Dockrell, B McCarthy, K O'Brien, W Porterfield, S Poynter, B Rankin, J Shannon, S Singh, P Stirling, S Thompson, C Young.

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