South Africa A cancel Ireland T20s
Ireland's warm-up plans for the ICC World Twenty20 have been thrown into chaos after South Africa A pulled out of the remainder of their tour due to the threat of more poor weather. The month-long visit of the South Africans ended early after the first of four Twenty20 games was rained-off at Oak Hill on Monday.
"It's not a decision we've taken lightly but given the amount of cricket that's been lost on the trip already and with the further likelihood of further disruption, we felt it was necessary to give the players a chance to prepare for the ICC World Twenty20," Vincent Barnes, the South Africa A coach, said.
"It's been an incredibly frustrating tour for everyone concerned with the weather, but I'd like to thank Cricket Ireland for their hospitality and understanding in what was a difficult decision for ourselves."
Ireland coach, Phil Simmons, said: "There's no doubt that it's a serious blow to our preparations for the ICC World Twenty20.
"But we will have two weeks in Sri Lanka before our games against Australia and West Indies, and we of course have warm-up fixtures against Sri Lanka A, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in Colombo."
The decision by South Africa to abort the tour is unprecedented and deeply disappointing to Irish supporters. The last two T20 games of the series were to have provided a gala opening to the new international stadium in Malahide.
Cricket Ireland chief executive, Warren Deutrom, said: "We fully appreciate that the priority for Cricket South Africa is to give players that might be involved in the ICC World T20 every opportunity to get meaningful practice beforehand, which we cannot guarantee here, so we completely appreciate their decision.
"It goes without saying that we are disappointed for everyone, not least the players of both sides, our sponsors RSA and the hosting venues of Malahide and Oak Hill that have put in so much effort but have been ultimately defeated by the awful weather.
"Although the forecast for the second half of the week is much better, the long-range view for Sunday is uncertain, while the inability of the players to train meaningfully before then and risk of possible injury is too big to take."
Simmons was forced into a late rethink of his plans for Sri Lanka, already hit by the injury to allrounder John Mooney.
"It's been a frustrating season for all concerned and the South African tour has been particularly hard hit by the elements," he said. "If we're unable to train outdoors this week we'll look to go to North County and have indoor sessions before we leave for Sri Lanka next Tuesday."
The South Africa A tour was scheduled to provide 15 days of high-class competition for Ireland's home-based players, but the weather refused to co-operate. Just 490 overs of play were possible before the tour was cancelled.
Play was possible on only two days of each of the four-day games, both of which ended in draws; all three 50-over games were affected by the weather - one was abandoned and the other two ended in D/L wins for South Africa A; and the first T20 match was abandoned without a ball bowled.