ICC Intercontinental Cup news December 5, 2013

Ireland, Johnston chase another title

ESPNcricinfo staff

Ireland will attempt to win their third ICC title of 2013 when they take on Afghanistan in the final of the Intercontinental Cup next week. The five-day match, to be played at the ICC Academy in Dubai from December 10-14, will also see the 39-year-old Trent Johnston play his final game for Ireland before retirement.

Johnston is part of a 14-man squad, captained by William Porterfield. Last Saturday, Ireland clinched their second successive ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier title, to go with with the WCL Championship they won earlier in the year, and the coach, Phil Simmons, is keen for further success.

"This team continues to improve and grow and their appetite for trophies and World Cups shows no sign of waning," Simmons said. "That hunger and energy is still there and there's a healthy competition for places which keeps everyone in the squad on their toes.

"This is the one trophy that's currently missing from our cabinet at the moment, and the squad is keen to rectify that."

Afghanistan are the Intercontinental Cup holders, having beaten Scotland in 2010. Eight members of their squad, including the captain, Mohammad Nabi, were part of the side that lifted the trophy in Dubai three years ago and they will provide familiar opponents for Ireland, after several memorable clashes in recent ICC tournaments.

They have contested the last three World Twenty20 Qualifier finals, as well as finishing first and second in the WCL Championship - granting both sides qualification to the 2015 World Cup. Ireland topped the Intercontinental Cup table, with 116 points to Afghanistan's 104, meaning that a draw - as occurred in their rain-hit match in Dublin - will be enough for them to regain the trophy they won three times between 2005 and 2008.

Johnston will be appearing in his fourth final, having captained Ireland to success in the 2005 and 2006-07 tournaments. Like Johnston, Andrew White is also looking for a fourth winners' medal, while top-order batsman John Anderson is the only member of the squad who wasn't involved in last month's World Twenty20 Qualifier.

Playing in the final of that tournament, Johnston recorded his maiden T20 half-century before taking three wickets. "The guys want TJ to go out on a high, as we all know how much this final means to him," Simmons said. "If he plays like he did at the weekend, then it shouldn't be a problem."

Ireland's quest to become the first side to hold all three titles at the same time will be live-streamed on the ICC's YouTube channel and via the ICC website.

Ireland squad: William Porterfield (captain), John Anderson, George Dockrell, Trent Johnston, Ed Joyce, John Mooney, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien, Max Sorensen, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Andrew White, Gary Wilson

Afghanistan squad: Mohammed Nabi (captain), Mirwais Ashraf, Izzatullah Dawlatzai, Nawroz Mangal, Gulbadin Naib, Shabir Ahmed Noori, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Mohammad Shahzad, Samiullah Shenwari, Sayed Ahmed Shirzad, Asghar Stanikzai, Dollat Zadran, Afsar Khan Zazai, Rahmat Shah Zurmati

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Stephen on December 9, 2013, 22:51 GMT

    @Afg Guy you also have to realise that Ireland's budget for coaching is much larger, changing coaches will not change the fact that Ireland have a much more infrastructure that has been developed over the last 10-15 years. Yes Afghanistan has come on light years from it's humble beginnings in large part down to the coach you're so willing to throw away, but Cricket Ireland have much greater revenue streams than Afghanistan so it isn't fair to compare their respective coaching setups. Consistency of selection is also critical to a teams success and failure, yes new talent need to be brought in but to help them develop there needs to be a strong experienced core to a team to allow them to flourish.

  • Aaron on December 9, 2013, 22:47 GMT

    This is gonna be a great game! All the best of luck to the Afghans and the Irish. I have been watching your progress very closely in Australia and it is very heratwarming to see both do well and make the World Cup. Without Hamid Hassan (a world class pace bowler in my opinion) I think the Irish would have to be the favourites here though.....

  • Akbar on December 8, 2013, 13:54 GMT

    @AFG Guy, I do not agree with you that youngsters haven't are provided with enough chances to include the national side. But the issue is that youngsters don't pick up their chances.

    From the youngsters is Dawlat Zadran one of few, who has been able to establish himself very well in the National squad. Those players have been able to establish themselves a little bit: Afsar Zazai, Hamza Hotak, Izatullah Dawlatzai and Najibullah Zadran.

    And those youngsters haven't or haven't yet been able to establish themselves: Javid Ahmadi, Shabir Noori, Aftab Alam, Zamir Khan, Noor-ul-Haq Malikzai, Rahmat Shah (Zurmatai), Mohibullah Oryakhel, Zakiullah zaki and Hashmatullah Shaidi.

    Aren't this enough experiments?

  • Akbar on December 8, 2013, 12:44 GMT

    I totally agree with Shukoor Hadi. Kabir Khan is the right person on right place and time. Kabir Khan is our fellow Afghan blood, who is familiar with everything related to Afghanistan and Afghans. If you take a coach from Australia, India, Sri Lanka and etc, the communication will be a huge probleem and understanding the difficulties which are there, takes a lot of time.

    But I do agree with Afg Guy, that Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) should be ashamed for not providing the national Afghan side with seperate batting, bowling and field coaches!!!

  • Dummy4 on December 8, 2013, 8:19 GMT

    @Afg Guy, think realistic before saying anything, it was Afghans talent and Kabir Khans hard work that Afghanistan qualified for World Cup 2015, without Kabir we failed to qualify in previous qualifier. Kabir Khan is the best coach Afghanistan have ever had.

    Let me remind you that when Kabir Khan was Coach of UAE, they improved so rapidly and became Afghanistan's rival.

    Thank you Kabir Khan for puting lots of effort and getting realy players ready for upcoming big events.

  • Dummy4 on December 7, 2013, 22:27 GMT

    AFG needs a good new coach and a batting coach. its time to let kabir khan go , thanks for his help. if they want to improve they need to bring lots of changes and give youngerstes chances . if you guys see Ireland how much they changed from last year its all because of the good coaching . M shezad is a good player but he is not a good keeper by any mean they need to give Afsar zazai a chance in keep i think he is way better than shezad in keeping . and same thing with bowling. they should introduce new bowlers from u19 and A team

  • Akbar on December 7, 2013, 0:33 GMT

    @ Nathan Cramb, because Hamid Hassan and Noor Ali Zadran are both injured. Hamid is the best bowler of Afghanistan and Noor Ali Zadran is the best batsmen on Afghan side. So, Afghanistan will feel their missing by injuries.

    However, I like this silentness by Afghanistan. This means that they are focussed on their game, learning from their mistakes and hopefully waking up on time! At other side Ireland is in their top form and with full strenght. Anyways, hopefully this time is the luck on Afghan side. But you will not win by luck only!

  • Android on December 6, 2013, 19:53 GMT

    hameed hassan is out bec of his knee injury

  • Dummy4 on December 6, 2013, 15:50 GMT

    Why is Hamid Hassan not in the Afghanastani squad?

  • Sumeet on December 6, 2013, 9:27 GMT

    Is Niall O'Brien injured? He did not take part in the World T20 qualifiers as well. Anyone?

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