Ireland wiser in Twenty20 - Simmons
Phil Simmons, Ireland's coach, believes his side are wiser going in to the third edition of the ICC World Twenty20 than they were in last summer's competition. For Ireland the trip back to Jamaica also allows them to recapture memories of their 2007 World Cup campaign when they famously beat Pakistan to progress to the Super Eights, and Simmons was hopeful they could pull off a few more upsets.
"I think it's easier to pull off a shock in Twenty20 because recovery time is less than in 50 overs," said Simmons. "We have played that little bit more Twenty20 than we had going into the last World Cup - so we are slightly wiser about Twenty20 cricket. That has to be a good thing."
Ireland have maintained consistent performances in recent times despite a number of high profile retirements and injuries, having lost players of the ilk of Eoin Morgan and Ed Joyce to England, and with Boyd Rankin - who is also on England's radar after being included in the ECB's England Performance Programme - sidelined since January with a stress fracture to his right foot. Yet they have the likes of veteran Trent Johnston, who captained during the World Cup, and his successor William Porterfield, as well as players with county cricket experience.
"It's nice (for me) to be playing in the West Indies and for the players to be taking on England too," Simmons said. "But this is the group we would have taken too; we are happy with that. From our point of view, it is about trying to improve our performance every time we take on teams at this level - and Twenty20 is no different. It is a format we are not experienced in, but we have to keep picking things up as we go and make sure we use them."
Ireland's preparations ahead of the tournament have not been too successful. They won just one of six tour games, lost an ODI to West Indies, and won one of two warm-up Twenty20 matches. Against the backdrop of calls in certain quarters to push for Ireland's Test status, Simmons did not feel there was added pressure on the team. "Yes, the pressure is on; but that is inevitable on these occasions," he said. "The stakes are always high, whenever you are taking on these full member top teams with a chance to show you are improving. It's not something we even think about. We just go out to play as well as we can and make sure we take our opportunities."
Ireland have been grouped with West Indies and England during the initial phase of the World Twenty20, which starts on April 30.