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The Ireland captain's tour diary during the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in the UAE
November 17, 2013
Our team manager, Roy Torrens, is a pretty bubbly character as a person. He brings a lot of excitement. There's never a dull moment with Roy, and he's always got an answer back. Anyone that thinks they can get the better of Roy better think again. He's one step ahead of most of the lads with his witty humor. He's not shy about reminding us, especially some of the younger lads, that he's been around the Irish cricket setup for 40 or 50 years and he'll put them in their place if they step out of line. He knows all the tricks of the trade so it's pretty hard to get one over on him.
He's been ill the last few days and it's always a big loss when he's not on the team bus, whether it's lads trying to take the mick out of him or he's taking the mick out of someone else. He brings a lot of banter off the pitch which obviously helps to take our mind off things. It's not great to see him when he's bedridden for a few days, especially such a bubbly character. Hopefully, he'll be back healthy soon and ready to go.
In the first match, we played Namibia and we had quite a tight game against them in the first game, last year, at the same tournament. We lost by four runs in the end in 2012. I think Louis van der Westhuizen at the top of the order is a big player for them. They were missing Gerrie Snyman from this squad who got them off to a bit of a start last time. Van der Westhuizen was a big wicket for us. When Alex Cusack came on and got him in the fifth over, that was a crucial breakthrough for us and we managed to bowl quite a lot of dots at the rest of the batsmen on quite a big ground. Once they weren't getting boundaries that made the job of winning on Friday a lot easier.
Against Canada, it obviously came down to quite a tight game in the last few overs. Trent Johnston and Cusy (Cusack), bowling two of the last three overs, made it quite easy on myself because I knew what I was getting from those lads. Obviously they still had to execute and the last three balls were quite tight knowing we couldn't afford a boundary with Canada needing seven to win. The way Cusy was getting his yorkers in, it was quite hard to do that. The next two went for singles, and he managed to restrict them to two off the last ball. That was fantastic for us.
Cusy has done that a lot of times for us before. Knowing that you're throwing him the ball needing 14 off the last over, you're pretty confident knowing what he's about. You put your input in with the bowler, but ultimately he's got to be the one to let the ball go and be comfortable. You come to a mutual agreement and if he's comfortable getting his yorkers in there, then he'll go for yorkers. He tried a slower ball on a length earlier in the over, but it landed slightly fuller than he would've liked and went for six. The way he was getting his yorkers in there though, he wasn't going to let too many more disappear over the sight screen.
Whatever I'm thinking inside, I try not to express it if things are getting tight. You just have to sit back and assess things and stay cool under pressure. If you're gonna panic, you have to panic slowly. It helps just to take a step back and look at it from an outside point of view and to think what we would do then. That helps in terms of making the right decisions.
You don't really have time for a discussion with bowlers in T20 compared to one-day or four-day cricket. A lot of the onus is taken off me. I make decisions of who bowls when, but you don't really have time so they ultimately have to make up their mind as they walk back to their mark as to what they're going to bowl, and how to change the field. You want a couple of minutes in reserve coming down to the end if it is tight to have a discussion if you need to, and we managed that against Canada.
When making a decision about who or what to bowl at the end, ultimately I've got to make a call. The wicketkeeper's point of view can be quite good as well. He's kind of unbiased compared to the bowler. The bowler might tell you the ball is doing all sorts and the keeper might give you another viewpoint. So the wicketkeeper is quite a good man to go to, but there's no shortage of experienced views from around the pitch. I just try to get lads' ideas as we go through the overs because they might come up with something I'm not even thinking about that might be better. I'm not one of those lads who says, 'It's my way only and that's it.' Whoever comes up with a good idea, if that's the best way to go, then I'll go with it.
The wind played a massive factor in the game today against the UAE. It was the first time we were playing in the nursery ground outside of Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, instead of inside the stadium. It was a pretty high wind.
We bowled spinners from one end so that the batsmen were hitting into the wind. I don't think there were any boundaries scored straight down the ground at that end. I don't think I've ever played in an international game where the wind has played such a massive role, in not necessarily the outcome of the game, but the scoring areas of the game. It was impossible to hit against the wind and I'm not sure there's many batsman in the world who could've hit sixes into that wind.
I was weighing up whether to bowl George Dockrell in the last over or Trent Johnston. They would've had to try to swing square of the wicket to hit boundaries because it was a struggle going down the ground. I had intended to bowl Dockrell but wound up going for Johnston just because I thought the batsmen that were left and that were in would've found it harder to hit Trent into the wind than Dockers.
We came up with some good bits of fielding in the final over, including two run outs. With nine needed to win, they were obviously looking to score off every ball. We fielded well and put them under pressure. We bowled them out and the match didn't get to the final ball. For all of our seamers, all credit goes to them. To run in and bowl 10 overs into the wind the way they did and to restrict UAE to under 140, which was a par score today, was a great effort.
It has been a funny tournament so far with a lot of results that people would've scripted otherwise, especially Papua New Guinea, who we saw in a warm-up game. We knew they'd have the capability to beat teams in this tournament. They've beaten Kenya and Holland, two of the stronger teams on paper in their group, not having just beaten them but knocking off 176 in 17.4 overs and setting 193 against Holland. They're no mugs and could be one of the surprise packages in the competition. Namibia went through the group having won seven out of seven last year when a lot of teams wouldn't have predicted that. You can't take anyone lightly and I think that just helped us in the warm-up game to be reminded of that.
William Porterfield is the captain of Ireland
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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