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Ireland on right road to showpiece, insists Ford


By Ian Callender

Ireland will probably finish third in the Twenty20 Tri-Series after Scotland beat Netherlands by seven wickets in the fifth match in Amsterdam yesterday but, in truth, no one in the Irish camp expected much more.

Head coach Graham Ford admits Ireland are on a journey, a process to find a winning combination of players that can qualify for the next World Twenty20 in 18 months' time, and to win and tie two of the first four games was a satisfactory start.

They lost the first two games against the Dutch by margins which flattered Ireland but ended a run of six defeats with an impressive 46 runs success against Scotland on Saturday, and the same team tied a 185-game the following day.

"Some of it was very pleasing, some of was disappointing, a case of what if," said Ford.

"We could have been a little better in certain areas but, all in all, it was a good chase (on Sunday), and to get ourselves into a position of winning that game was impressive.

"So, yes, there were positives, but we've still a long way to go."

With Twenty20 cricket gaining greater and greater prominence - ICC is giving all 105 countries international status in the shortest format from this year - Ford knows that Ireland, as one of the 12 Full Members, must improve their ranking of 17th.

"We are trying to find answers but we are starting from almost nowhere; we are not a settled team, we don't know what our best combinations are," he admitted.

Explaining why Peter Chase and Barry McCarthy bowled the final overs in both games against Scotland while George Dockrell and Stuart Thompson in each match respectively had an over left, he said: "We don't have a genuine pecking order of who are best bowlers are, so the only way we going to find out is by playing them, and the only way they are going to improve is by getting the opportunity.

"It's that kind of situation that teams in the early stage of development find themselves in, and that's where we are at.

"The pleasing thing is that there were signs of progress over the four games. I just wish we had a few more so we could give a few guys a fair crack."

Next up, after Sunday's testimonial game for Ed Joyce against Sussex in Arundel, are two T20s against India next week in Malahide but Ford admits that, while it is great to have such big games in front of your home crowd, they have probably come too early for this squad.

"India is going to be tough," he acknowledges, "but my eye is not totally on India it's more about the Qualifiers, trying to answer questions and get direction as to how we want to go for that. It's all a process."

The final game of the Tri-Series in Holland takes place this evening, while North West Warriors and Leinster Lightning start their first-class fixture at Bready this morning (11.00).

The forecast for the next three days is much better than yesterday when rain allowed only 40 overs of the inter-provincial Cup game between the teams.

There was time for Niall O'Brien to score 57 not out from 79 balls for Warriors but the Lightning bowlers were on top throughout with George Dockrell and Simi Singh bowling 17 consecutive overs and finishing with combined figures of 4-60.

Josh Little, who is set to named in the squad for the India games, took 1-15 from six overs.

INTER-PROVINCIAL CUP: Eglinton: North West Warriors 137-6 (40 overs, N O'Brien 57 not out, W Porterfield 37; G Dockrell 3-20) v Leinster Lightning. Match abandoned - rain

T20 Tri-Series: Amstelveen Netherlands 160-6 (W Baresi 53) Scotland 161-3 (17.4 overs), Scotland won by 7 wickets.

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