ICC Intercontinental Cup 2010 August 29, 2010

Ireland still hopeful of Intercontinental Cup success

Cricinfo staff

Ireland batsman Paul Stirling is hopeful that his side can defend their Intercontinental Cup title ahead of the game against Canada in Toronto starting on August 31 and believes success in their final two games of the tournament would give Ireland an important boost ahead of the World Cup next year.

"Winning the ICC Intercontinental Cup again would definitely increase the confidence even more. It's going to be tricky to get there but we are going to give it our best shot and hopefully we can go and win," said Stirling. "It is something I definitely want to do as I missed out on the last one and would love to be able to go and win it in Dubai."

Scotland won the first Intercontinental Cup in 2004, beating Canada in the final, while Ireland has been victorious in all three events since then, beating Kenya in the 2005 decider, Canada in the 2006-07 event and Namibia in 2007-08. Ireland are currently fifth on the competition's points table, 45 points behind frontrunners Afghanistan, but could still make the final in Dubai if they take maximum points from their final two games against Canada and Zimbabwe XI.

"It is a big match and hopefully we will go out there and perform and get the points that we need," added Stirling. "We go out in every game and play the same way, whether that extra pressure is on or not. We don't put that pressure on ourselves and we know if we go and perform on each of the four days to the best of our abilities then we will win.

"We have a very strong squad and very strong depth in our squad. We have players who can step up and perform at first-class level. If rain hadn't come and scuppered our chances in a couple of the games then we would have had a better chance of qualifying and it would have been an easier route to the final."

Ireland will be missing Alex Cusack through injury, while William Porterfield, Boyd Rankin and Gary Wilson are all on county duty in England. However, the team will be led by the experienced Trent Johnston, a veteran of 146 games for Ireland, and is bolstered by the return of Andre Botha, who has recovered from a stress fracture, and Phil Eaglestone, who is back to fitness following a side strain.

Beaten finalists in 2004 and 2007, it is a different story for Canada this time round as they are languishing at the bottom of the table after four defeats and have little other than pride to play for. The return of captain and leading batsman Ashish Bagai is still good news for them, however, as is middle-order batsman Zubin Surkari's recovery from a hamstring injury.

Although Canada stands no chance of making the final for a third time, opening bowler Umar Bhatti explained that there is still plenty to be gained from playing first-class cricket and is determined that his side returns to winning ways after a disappointing World Cricket League Division One campaign in July which included just two victories against a lacklustre Kenyan side.

"I love playing in the Intercontinental Cup as I love playing four-day games," said Bhatti. "It has certainly made me a stronger player. If you are a bowler you have to bowl 25 to 30 overs in an innings and if you are a batsman you have to bat for a session. It takes your game to a whole new level in terms of the mental aspect of the game.

"It has been a disappointing campaign so far, especially as we have been in the finals in the past. We are determined to win this game. In terms of standings we still want to finish as high as we can so that when we start the next campaign we have something to build on. It is a huge game for us and it's the same for Ireland. They are trying to make the final so we want to make sure they don't get there."

Canada squad Ashish Bagai (capt), Rizwan Cheema, Umar Bhatti, Hemnarine Chattergoon, Khurram Chohan, Abzal Dean, Parth Desai, Ruvindu Gunasekara, Jimmy Hansra, Nitish Kumar, Henry Osinde, Hiral Patel, Zubin Surkari, Hamza Tariq

Ireland squad Trent Johnston (capt), Andre Botha, George Dockrell, Phil Eaglestone, Allan Eastwood, Nigel Jones, Rory McCann, John Mooney, Kevin O'Brien, Andrew Poynter, Paul Stirling, Albert van der Merwe, Andrew White

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on September 2, 2010, 4:57 GMT

    @Alex - I understand where you are coming from. I do believe that Ireland & Afghanistan need special funding to get them up to test status. I think they are on the same level as Bangladesh & Zimbabwe, & Pakistan (depending if up to 7 of the current squad get banned!). Whilst Bangladesh is improving - this being because of top level competition, they entered at a very un-competitive level due not having infrastructure. As far as Canada is concerned - I don't believe it is a complete waste. I have noticed that there is some youth coming through but again it is bolstered by "non-canadians" - bit like USA. @Usman Malik - you are too quick to use the word "racist". Alex was expressing an opinion and he is entitled to it. In the current Canasian side there are only 2 players born in the country. This number needs to be more like 6 or 7 - which funnily enough is about the England quota - LOL. To rebuff Alex - surely a teenager born overseas is comparable to the Strauss example?

  • Dummy4 on August 31, 2010, 16:39 GMT

    Usman there is nothing racist to suggest that a representative XI should have representatives who are either born and bred in the said country; or have learnt their cricket in that country (Andrew Struass as an example) ; or to be honest they should not be limited to an expat/ethnic community - it simply then isn't representative.

    Club cricket from what I have been told is a shambles, run by people with their own agendas and is at best disorganised chaos. The board select players according to the club they play for, petty isn't it? Then there's the pitches the ICC laid for the 2001 ICC Trophy, mostly now in a state of disuse. The game is ghettoized, with little effort to expand outside of ethnic groups.

    Why should Canada get the same funding as Ireland based on what each board does to spread the game? Will Canada ever be a progressive cricketing nation? No. Will they ever play Test cricket? No. Will they ever have a truely representative team? No. Waste of ICC funds.

  • Dummy4 on August 30, 2010, 18:45 GMT

    I am quite shocked to here the comments above quite racist, we are living in a new world older where immigrants from all over the world make Canada there home. To say you can't spot a Canadian in the squad (Alex). Can you please advise how a Candian looks like I have spent most of my life there and need your guidance.

    In terms of cricket and Infrastructure Canadian Cricket has come leaps and bounds. With playing conditions only suitable for cricket 5-6 months of the year and club cricket which is funded by individuals hard earned money.

    There is a lot of potential in Canadian Crikcet we have seen quite a lot of changes in terms of youngsters being drafted in the team. In the past the average age of the team has been over 30 (2004 world cup) that is not the case any more.

    I have played with and against most of the guys on the current Canadian Cricket team and these guys have worked long and hard and come through the ranks of club cricket in Canada.

  • Dummy4 on August 30, 2010, 16:23 GMT

    Agreed with Rakesh. Fingers crossed Canada (aka Asian Rejects XI) will lose ODI status in the 2013 World Cup Qualifier.

  • Rakesh on August 30, 2010, 6:07 GMT

    I agree @abdullah that Afghanistan must be given chance considering their flair. Certainly Afghanistan should be there in place of Canada. Hope this is the last time we see such as bad a team as Canada( namesake) with all new immigrants from indian subcontinent.

  • Dummy4 on August 30, 2010, 5:16 GMT

    Yar about Afghanistan is good teem all guys have sprite to do bast job. i concern to give chance in world cup 2011 its good. all of you knows that guys don't have ground in Afghanistan but they are looking great then Zam and Bangl teems

    Abdullah Sapai

  • Rakesh on August 29, 2010, 16:58 GMT

    Canada is the most unattractive cricket team. All desperate immigrants not even considered by grade cricket in their respective home countries. Money to Canada by ICC is total waste. Only when cricket is really introduced to core of the socirty in Canada than we can say something. Consider passionate countries like Kenya, Ireland, Afghanistan ,Namibia, Uganda and may be Netherland.. If ICC stresses on this shortlisted nations Cricket will flourish. Canada is was UAE team was few years ago, all Indian, Pakistanni immigrants . Stop these useless stuff.

  • Terry on August 29, 2010, 16:18 GMT

    As much as I would like to see Ireland make the final, the first two games were drawn due to rain, causing Ireland to loose 22 points that would have made a big difference. If the matches were 5 days each OR 4 days with 1 day extra for lack of overs (due to rain or slow over rate) then Ireland would have gained the extra 11 points per game from winning the match (the results show they would have won without rain).

    To make the final, Ireland needs to lead on the first innings and win the match in each of the matches. This will make 72 points max.

    This however, will leave the Zimb XI vs Scotland match. Zim win will be 77+ pts, Scotland win will be 83+ pts, whereas a draw could give Scotland 72 or 78 pts and Zim 66 or 72 pts.

    Only chance Ireland have is to win both matches and take first innings both times WHILST Zimb XI lead on 1st innings against Scotland which results in a draw. This will result in 2nd place of 72 pts for Zim, Scot & Irel. Meaning Ireland then needs larger Quotient.

  • Dwight on August 29, 2010, 15:54 GMT

    here are two teams going in the opposite direction, ireland is growing stronger, getting more competitive and actually developing homegrown players and i see them becoming a test nation within the next 3-5 years. Canada hasnt had a good performance in about a year, the board is in shambles and the team is filled with ex-pats with no solid infrastruture to develop. good luck canada..your gonna need it

  • Dummy4 on August 29, 2010, 15:24 GMT

    Spot the Canadian in the Canada team... disgraceful they get the same funding as Ireland when one is in the verge of Test cricket and spreads the game in Ireland and the other is an expat team going nowhere.

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