Cricket World Cup: Johnston’s waiting game
Trent Johnston, now the 12th best one-day bowler in the world, remains Ireland’s biggest worry ahead of tomorrow’s World Cup clash against the West Indies in Mohali (4am GMT start).
Johnston has gone up eight places in the world rankings after taking two wickets in each of Ireland’s first three World Cup games but so vital is he to the Ireland cause that the 36-year-old may play even if only 80% fit.
Ed Joyce, speaking at the PCA stadium, ahead of their afternoon practice session, said: “We've obviously got cover, but TJ is a massive player for us so ideally he'll play. I believe he's responding pretty well to treatment so that's a good sign and he's a pretty tough guy, so hopefully if he's even 80 per cent he'd be fit to play and get out there.”
No matter what way you look at the mathematics of a competitive Group B, Ireland need to win tomorrow if they are to have any chance of reaching the quarter finals and Joyce had to agree.
“I think we have still got to win three or four games to go through so I don't think the England result (against South Africa) makes any difference.
“Obviously it looks like a must-win game for us to push for a quarter-final place. But we're fairly confident, we've done our homework on their team and it's looking pretty good going into the game,” said Joyce, who admitted he is still searching for that one big innings on his return to Ireland colours.
“It hasn't gone quite to plan for me in the first three games ( he has totalled 52 runs).
“But I'd take nought and nought in the next two games if we win them.
“It's definitely a team effort more than an individual thing so if we're doing well and I'm not doing well, that's fine by me. Obviously I'd like to put in a big performance in a win.”
Recent history is not on Ireland’s side. Since their last victory over the West Indies, at Stormont in 2004, the calypso kings have won two of the three ODIs — the other was a no result — including the World Cup game four years ago, two T20 games, and piling on the agony, a West Indies A side won two games in Belfast and a Windies XI three T20 games last year in Jamaica.
Little wonder then that Ramnaresh Sarwan, who scored an undefeated century to win the last ODI between the teams, at Sabina Park 11 months ago, said there would be no surprises from the Ireland team.
“We have played against them quite a lot so we know what they are capable of. They are improving vastly and it shows you can’t take anything for granted in this World Cup,” said Sarwan.
The biggest threat to Ireland is likely to come from the opening attack of Kemar Roach and Sulieman Benn, if West Indies continue to open with pace at one end and spin at the other.
It has proved a successful formula as they have taken 18 wickets in the West Indies’ first three games. Each has struck in his first four overs and no team has yet scored 30 against them without losing at least two wickets.
Meanwhile, five of Niall O'Brien's bats, which went missing after Ireland's World Cup match against India in Bangalore in Sunday, have turned up —in the India team's luggage.
Three days after the Ireland's batsman's cricket bag, containing six bats, failed to arrive back at the team hotel, Ireland team manager Roy Torrens received a call to say that a bag with five bats, which didn't belong to the India team, had been found among their baggage.
O'Brien, however, will not have the bats in time for tomorrow's crucial clash against the West Indies in Chandigarh. The bag will be transported straight to Kolkata, where the Ireland squad arrive on Saturday for their final two group games against South Africa and the Dutch next week.
Ireland: W Porterfield, P Stirling, E Joyce, N O’Brien, A Botha, K O’Brien, A Cusack, J Mooney, T Johnston (or G Wilson), G Dockrell, B Rankin.
West Indies: D Smith, C Gayle, D Bravo, R Sarwan, S Chanderpaul, K Pollard, D Thomas, D Sammy, N Miller, S Benn, K Roach.