World T20 2016 March 7, 2016

Ireland set to unveil more powerful approach

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'Not all the grounds we play are small and intimidation for batters is a powerful point' - John Bracewell © Peter Della Penna

Ireland coach John Bracewell has promised a more powerful approach to Twenty20 cricket from his team. He joined Ireland following their moderately successful 2015 World Cup, and realised after a disappointing show in the World T20 Qualifiers that his side needed to improve its power-hitting game.

Although Ireland had Kevin O'Brien and Paul Stirling earlier too, most of their batsmen were touch players, like William Porterfield, Ed Joyce and Andrew Balbirnie. Even Niall O'Brien relies on cheek more than brawn. Bracewell felt the need to consciously work on intimidating the opposition bowlers.

"We are physically more mature now, and even mentally we are tougher now," Bracewell said. "And we had some concentrated T20 focus which leading into that tournament [qualifiers last year] we didn't have. It is the first I had as a team. The climate changes all the time."

When asked to elaborate on "physically mature", Bracewell said: "We are a bit more powerful now. We had a little of power-hitting. We changed our physical programme a little bit more, targeting power-hitting and making sure guys are in the right positions. They get confidence to strike the ball harder."

According to Bracewell, Porterfield and Gary Wilson are two examples of batsmen who have become bigger hitters. "Other guys are also getting the confidence to do that and believe now," Bracewell said. "It is a matter of getting one thing on the night, and also the physical confidence to do that."

Even in this era of big bats, Bracewell felt power was indispensable. "Power plays a huge role," he said. "Not all the grounds we play on are small and some grounds are big even now and intimidation for batters is a powerful point."

One of the other reasons, Bracewell felt, for Ireland's ordinary show in the qualifiers was the pressure of playing at home and being expected to do well in front of home crowds. Ireland cannot escape that pressure over the next week. They are the darling Associate team with equal parts flair, results and underdog to them, and are always expected to do well when they come up against other Associates.

"The landscape in Associate cricket is changing very quickly," Bracewell said. "In fact it's changing very quickly with the new qualification structures. It's very difficult for Associates to qualify for the (50-over) World Cup, so this is the only realistic structure that's in place for Associates to actually qualify for. Therefore, all the Associate teams are closing the gap on each other rapidly. Most of them are focusing on this as this is the only world stage that's available.

"Ireland is trying to qualify for Test cricket and also maintain a one-day profile. We still have a chance to qualify for the next World Cup so we're looking at three formats. Now, with our resources, that's difficult because we're on a very limited budget. The Test sides have a minimum 10 million dollar budget more than what we have, so it's a difficult thing. T20 is separate because the gap is narrowing in terms of the ability to play it and also the concentration to get better at it."

Now, Ireland are expected to win three matches in five days or go back to the invisible world of qualifiers. Bracewell said Ireland were trying to not look at it as a pressure situation. "Great preparation, that's how I see it," Bracewell said. "There's no better preparation for the tournament than play in the tournament itself. That's how I see it. I see it as a glass half full, not half empty.

"It doesn't matter what people call it [qualifiers or the first stage of the main event]. We're looking at it as a great opportunity to qualify for the main tournament. And if we qualify, we'll be ready to compete because we're match fit in these conditions."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rezaul Karim on March 8, 2016, 12:49 GMT

    @Rip_testcricket, you sound immature and novice as your user name also implies. You called overrated BD side, do you even follow cricket, i doubt seriously. BD beat india, Pak, SA, WI, Zim recently and didnt lose a series since 2015. If thats overrated then describe all teams BD beat, forget about yours. Try to learn to give credit where it is due!

  • markbrop on March 8, 2016, 11:58 GMT

    Yes I think we are in with a shout, especially with someone like Chaminda Vaas to help the bowlers.

  • Cricinfouser on March 8, 2016, 10:17 GMT

    As an ireland fan the ICC have screwed us again. Bangladesh are a much better t20 side than most of the other teams in the main draw. Its not fair on us or them that we have to play them to qualify. I was there at trent bridge when we beat bangladesh in 2009 but a lot has changed since then. Roll the dice, boys and dare to dream.

  • Rip_testcricket on March 8, 2016, 7:33 GMT

    Ireland will crush zimbabwe this time for a revenge. I think the best match of the qualifying round would be BD vs Ireland.. Ireland keep seeming to improve and I hope they crush this overrated BD side. Please publish

  • keepcalmandslaptheumpire on March 8, 2016, 4:58 GMT

    Personally Ireland won't make it but that's because of the ridiculous reason that Zimbabwe and Bangladesh have to qualify in the first place. About the test status however, Ireland considering the first class experience in English county cricket would probably make an equal if not better side than either Zimbabwe or Bangladesh in test matches on occassion. Probably going to cop flak for this but just my opinion. Hopefully the next generation of Irish cricketers up the quality as the lack of strike bowlers really hurts their chances in tournaments.

  • S.R.Khan on March 7, 2016, 22:32 GMT

    I urge some of my overly boisterous countrymen to get their heads out of their rear ends and show some respect. Ireland are a good side, while we aren't good enough yet to be so arrogant as to dismiss Associate sides (certainly not in T20). We're still ranked below Afghanistan in T20s, so let's keep our feet firmly planted on the ground.

  • whocareswhowins on March 7, 2016, 20:17 GMT

    I agree that teams like Bangladesh and Zimbabwe shouldn't have to play in a qualifying tournament. It defeats the purpose of encouraging Associate teams

  • syedmahm on March 7, 2016, 19:45 GMT

    I am a Bangladeshi and I don't know how some of BD fans are so confident about qualifying for the main draw. ZIM has beaten us just a few weeks ago twice! It's T20 cricket where we are not a decent side YET. I urge to all of my fellow BD supporters to keep the feet on the ground. If we can move to the main round I will be very very pleased.

  • AH_USA on March 7, 2016, 19:43 GMT

    Ireland plays exciting cricket. It is high time that the cricket fraternity starts to take the Irish seriously. There should be regular cricket scheduled between the test playing nations and Ireland. This is one of the key ways to expand the game. Cheers from a Pakistani fan.

  • Ashik Imran on March 7, 2016, 19:33 GMT

    A very poor decision by the ICC. Why BD is playing in the qualifying round ? BD is one of the serious contenders of the cup this time. This immature decision of ICC significantly reduces the hopes of associate countries. Afghanistan, Nepal, Ireland, Oman, UAE, Scotland, Kenya, Namibia, Papua Newgini, Holland are already playing good brand of cricket. Why suppressing their chances while demoralizing teams like BD/ZIM.... For God's sake BD are the Asian runner up in limited over cricket for last few years !

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