Ireland ICC World Twenty20 2016 Tournament Preview & Guide
Progression to the Super 10s of the ICC World Twenty20 2016 will be the minimum requirement for Ireland – the kings of the Associate world with a reputation for being giant-killers. But given their first round opposition, can it?
05 March 2016 22:07
The team sealed its spot in the tournament by finishing top of Group A in the ICC Qualifiers. It did lose two matches on the way – to Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong – but with a well-balanced squad of valuable experience and youthful zest, Ireland are often well-fancied to impress and certain to entertain.
When it comes to world tournaments, we get it right more often than not. That is our strength and we are confident we can put it right in India. We are an experienced team. Our backs have been against the wall plenty of times before and we have come out the right side
History: Since its debut in England in 2009, when it remarkably progressed to the second round after a famous win over Bangladesh, Ireland has qualified for all subsequent editions of the tournament. It failed to register a win in 2010 in the Caribbean and in Sri Lanka in 2012 – rain doing much damage both times – and despite beating both Zimbabwe and the United Arab Emirates in Bangladesh in 2014, it couldn’t progress to the second round after Netherlands chased down 190 in 13.5 overs to steal the Super 10s spot.
Group: Ireland is in Group A alongside Bangladesh, Netherlands and Oman.
Captain: William Porterfield
Coach: John Bracewell
Preview: Ireland has shone brightly in the previous editions of this tournament, with victories against full members in Bangladesh (in 2009) and Zimbabwe (in 2014), and competent displays against England (in 2010) and the West Indies (in 2012). It is a sign of their growing international status, however, that these results can be considered an underachievement. The likes of Porterfield, Niall O'Brien and Kevin O'Brien are on the wrong side of 30, so this might be the last push by Ireland’s golden generation.
Ireland has a strong, well-balanced team and boasted a 21-match winning streak in the Twenty20 Qualifiers until it was broken by PNG in July last year. Despite that, it went on to secure qualification before losing to Netherlands in the semifinal. The squad has been strengthened thereafter, with Boyd Rankin returning after a four-year period with England while Tim Murtagh overturned his decision to retire. Their returns significantly strengthen Ireland’s bowling stocks and will serve to balance things after the retirement of John Mooney in December, who took 14 wickets in the Qualifiers.
With spin a necessary force in the sub-continent, George Dockrell, the left-arm spinner, will play a key role, as will Andy McBrine and Paul Stirling, allrounders who can both bowl more than handy part-time spin. With the bat, Ireland will rely on its usual suspects – Porterfield, Niall and Kevin O’Brien.
All in all, Ireland has a good chance of progressing into the Super 10s. Netherlands denied it that chance in 2014, and beat it in the semifinals of the Qualifier in 2015. Ireland will hope to deny Netherlands this time around.
Strengths: Ireland possesses a well-balanced side with a fine mix of youth and experience. With the bat, the likes of Porterfield, Andy Balbirnie and Niall O’Brien can switch from big hitting to accumulation. It has fine allrounders in Kevin O’Brien, Stirling and McBrine, while Dockrell and Rankin shore up the bowling department. If the team can click in tandem, it will test the strongest sides.
Recent Form: Ireland’s 21-match unbeaten streak came to an end during the Qualifiers in July last year. It racked up four wins in the tournament, losing three. Thereafter, with one eye on preparation for the tournament, it beat PNG 2-1 in a three-match series in Townsville and proceeded to draw 1-1 against UAE in Abu Dhabi. In its first warm-up match in Dharamsala, it also beat Hong Kong by ten wickets, with Porterfield scoring an unbeaten 36-ball 75 that comprised ten fours and four sixes.
Star Player: Paul Stirling
Stirling’s portly build and a knack for clearing the ropes has drawn comparisons to the hugely talented Jesse Ryder. At just 25, he has already raised a few eyebrows in England’s county circuit, and has drawn praise from the likes of Waqar Younis. While his talent has been evident in the ODI format, he has 707 runs in 34 T20Is, at a potent strike-rate of 126.92, including five half-centuries. Furthermore, he has also developed as a valuable offspinner. In the sub-continent, Ireland will be as much reliant on his off-spin as his batting.
‘One to Watch’: Andy McBrine
At just 22, McBrine’s best years all lie ahead of him, though Ireland need his potential realised sooner rather than later. He bowls fine off-spin, and returned 2 for 26 against Zimbabwe in the 2014 edition of the tournament. He is also a good bat, and is particularly handy in the lower order, with a composed head to bank on in tricky situations.
#That6 Hitter: Kevin O’Brien
Not many who witnessed Kevin O’Brien’s innings against England in the 2011 World Cup will ever forget it. There were six huge sixes from his blade in a 50-ball century that took Ireland to a famous three-wicket win. Five years later, Kevin is still one of Ireland’s biggest hitters, and if it needs to accelerate its innings, he is the man it will turn to.
- William Porterfield, Niall O’Brien and Kevin O’Brien have played in all of Ireland’s ICC World Twenty20 campaigns, and are all set to play in their fourth edition this time.
- Among the captains in the tournament, Porterfield boasts of the second longest tenure in charge, behind India’s Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
- Tim Murtagh had retired from Twenty20 cricket in May 2015, before overturning his decision to play in the tournament.
- Ireland has played 12 World Twenty20 matches, winning three and losing seven.
Key Match: v Netherlands, Sunday March 13, Dharamsala: Ireland was denied progression to the Super 10s in the 2014 edition after Netherlands pulled of the most remarkable heists in the tournament’s history. Set a target of 190, Netherlands blasted away to win in 13.5 overs and seal its spot on the basis of net run-rate. Ireland will be looking for revenge when the sides clash in Dharamsala this time around. And should either side be victorious against Bangladesh in their earlier matches, this clash should, in fact, hold the key to how the group pans out.
What people are saying about them:
“The squad has got a real balance to it, with that blend of youth and experience that every coach likes. Ireland are now regular performers on the world stage so there's no fear or intimidation factors.” – John Bracewell, the Ireland coach.
“It's imperative that we get out of the group. That's non-negotiable from our point of view. Anything less will be deemed a disappointing outcome for the team. Once we hopefully get through, then we've got some big matches to play and it's a case of us taking down another scalp or two. We know what success tastes like and we're hungry for more of that.” – Niall O’Brien.
“When it comes to world tournaments, we get it right more often than not. That is our strength and we are confident we can put it right in India. We are an experienced team. Our backs have been against the wall plenty of times before and we have come out the right side.” – Gary Wilson.
Pommie Mbangwa Prediction – Ireland: Group Stage
Their task would be to ensure no slip-ups and then beat Bangladesh in the qualifying group stage. Whilst they have enough to do that, this experienced lot of William Porterfield, Kevin and Niall O'Brien, George Dockerell, Paul Stirling and Max Sorensen have gone from a side that hoped to win a game or two in times past to one that seems expected to win. It is that expectation that seems to have them under so much pressure to the point of buckling. This is evidenced by their route to the tournament through the qualifier, where they “should” have been the best side.
Ireland Squad: William Porterfield (capt), Andy Balbirnie, Gary Wilson, George Dockrell, Andy McBrine, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien, Andrew Poynter, Stuart Poynter, Boyd Rankin, Max Sorensen, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson & Craig Young.
Wednesday March 9: v Oman, HPCA Stadium, Dharamsala
Friday March 11: v Bangladesh, HPCA Stadium, Dharamsala
Sunday March 13: v Netherlands, HPCA Stadium, Nagpur