After four days without a game it was really nice to get back into action against UAE. We had two days off at the beginning of the week to refresh and recharge the batteries before getting back into training before the semi-final. The two days off were very welcome as this hasn't always been a luxury that has been there in other qualifying tournaments.
Last year, we had to play 11 games in 12 days to win the tournament. This was largely down to us narrowly losing the first game of the tournament and missing out on first place in our group. Although I think that this may have worked in our favour last year, as we gained momentum through the three play-offs we had to play to make the final, I think that the days off to recharge are better for us. The tournament has not been as hectic for us this year.
It is safe to say that our experience on one of our days off was a first for most, if not all, on tour. A film company called Biz-Events came in and gave us the challenge of producing a short commercial for two of the sponsors of Cricket Ireland, which had to be in the theme of a pre-selected film. The film that we had was Gladiator. It is safe to say that when you have Max Sorensen in your team, with his body of doom, there is only one contender to play Maximus Decimus Meridius!
For our production, we did pick up an Oscar at the team awards night, which we where pleased about. However, Team Tuggeries cleaned up with the individual awards with more than one of them slotting into their roles in the film Grease a little too easily for my liking - Brendan Connor, our strength and conditioning coach, to name one! The fact that their production had to be edited for the awards night, as there were ladies present, can paint you a picture as to the explicit route they went down. Let's just say we had a good laugh at the next team meeting.
Back to the cricket though and I thought that we put in a solid performance against UAE, without being at our best. It was disappointing to come out of the first six overs having lost three wickets but, on a positive note for us, that did give our lower-middle order some time in the middle, which could prove vital in the final. The most positive thing to come out of last night is that I thought that our bowling performance was the best we have put together in the tournament so far. It is left to us now to put both together as we have been playing well with the bat throughout the tournament.
We have developed a very healthy rivalry with our opponents, Afghanistan. This is the third time we have met in in the final of this competition and they have been very closely contested affairs and I expect tonight to be more of the same.