Ireland announce World Cup qualifiers squad
Ireland women have named the squad they hope will earn them a place at the 2009 World Cup. Heather Whelan, who has been captain since 2005, will continue to lead them in the qualifiers in Lahore next month.
Their latest World Cup campaign, in 2005, was disappointing: they came bottom, having failed to win a match. Most of the squad have experience from that campaign, though, and with a busy summer under their belts - including a full domestic programme, participation in a men's league, summer tour to Sussex and the European Championships in Holland - and intensive training, they are confident of making the World Cup.
Pakistan represent the biggest challenge of the group. Though Ireland women have never lost to them, Pakistan will be out to settle some scores from when their men fell to Ireland men in the World Cup earlier this year.
But some of Ireland's players from that match, and indeed the World Cup, are on hand to lend their experience. Trent Johnston, Adi Birrell and Matt Dwyer are helping out the women with one-to-one coaching, alongside their bowling coach Thinus Fourie, who is also an Ireland international.
The women's coach Miriam Grealey said of the preparations to come: "We will be working on playing spin, footwork, and batting with more aggression and confidence, but also on areas for individual development. We are working hard on our consistency which is the key to winning.
"Our fielding has really improved over the last couple of years, we have watched and learned from the likes of Australia and New Zealand and, in this area, I feel we are on a par with any of the top nations.
"We recognise that the conditions will be tougher in Pakistan, so physical fitness, conditioning and circuit training are all part of our overall preparation."
Squad Anne Linehan, Caitriona Beggs, Cecelia Joyce, Ciara Metcalfe, Clare Shillington, Eimear Richardson, Elaine Nolan, Heather Whelan (capt), Isobel Joyce, Jean Carroll, Jill Whelan, Jillian Smythe, Marianne Herbert, Nicki Coffey.