|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
April 29, 2010
Trent Johnston has many happy memories of the Caribbean. He was a key part in Ireland's memorable run at the 2007 World Cup where they reached the Super Eight stage after victory against Pakistan then also beat Bangladesh. Johnston turned 36 on the eve of the World Twenty20, full of belief that Ireland can repeat that success and match their performance in last year's tournament in England by again reaching the second stage.
Ireland begin their campaign this time against West Indies on the opening day, under the floodlights at the National Stadium in Providence, before facing England on May 4 at the same venue. There are plenty of survivors from the 2007 team, including current captain William Porterfield, wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien and tall pace bowler Boyd Rankin.
They are also coming up against a West Indies side that isn't in prime form, as proved by their collapse against New Zealand when they went from 68 without loss to 117 all out. Despite some poor performances in the lead-up Johnston, one of six Ireland players who have central contracts, knows what the team are capable of when all their skills work on the same day.
"I suppose the biggest thing is we've got to put the three disciplines together and if we can do that then I think we can definitely cause one, if not two upsets," he said. "We expect to go out and win every game but the big thing we've been finding in the lead-up games is that we're bowling well and we're not starting well with the bat.
"So we know that we've got to play out of our skins to come away with a victory. We'll be looking to do that and hopefully we can put it all together and beat the West Indies on Friday night."
Ireland remain the leading Associate nation, but are being pushed hard by Afghanistan, who defeated them again on Wednesday with an impressive five-wicket victory. It was a performance that summed up Ireland's time in the Caribbean in the past month - they have visited Jamaica and Trinidad en route to the World Twenty20 - and Johnston admitted it had been frustrating.
"We put in a good performance against Trinidad last Friday where we bowled well, we fielded well and knocked the total off with one wicket down," he said. "That's possibly the only game where we've put all three together but having said that there have been huge positives out of the other games, even though we've only come out with two wins since we've been away. So we've got to turn that all around and put all three together and if we do that we'll go close."
Like all international teams, Ireland have learnt their Twenty20 game despite limited exposure to the format, although they have played more matches in recent months - courtesy of the World Twenty20 qualifying event in Dubai - than a number of the major nations including India and South Africa.
"We're only developing as a Twenty20 country, we don't get masses of opportunities to play it and it's only been over the last couple of years, at the World Cup last year and now this one," Johnston said. "So it's a game we're inexperienced at and trying to find our feet, what's the best plan for us and how we go about it; do we need a certain amount of runs in a certain amount of overs with how many wickets in hand, all that kind of stuff.
"So, again, if we can put those three things together we'll be okay but if we don't there could be some carnage coming our way. Hopefully that won't happen, we'll stick together and put in a good performance."