Men's qualifiers put final touches on preparation for ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014
Four qualifiers for the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014 have arrived in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to hone their skills in a camp organised by the ICC High Performance Programme (HPP) before they travel to Bangladesh for the ICC World Twenty20 2014 (WT20), which commences on 16 March.
The first day of the camp saw Ireland, Netherlands, Nepal and the UAE in action at the ICC Academy, while Hong Kong was busy in Sharjah. The sixth qualifier, Afghanistan, is currently in Bangladesh competing in the Asia Cup in Dhaka and will not take part in the camp.
The schedule for each team has been developed in consultation with each of the five team coaches, and includes net and centre wicket training, fielding and fitness sessions, and a number of T20 practice matches.
The sides will play seven practice matches during the camp, with Ireland locking horns with Worcester at Abu Dhabi Oval 2 on Friday, and Netherlands facing the same opponent in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
HPP camps are held for the leading Associate and Affiliate teams in the lead up to most ICC global events, and at other key times to fit in with team schedules. Prior to the ICC WT20 Sri Lanka 2012, a camp was held in Sri Lanka, while an HPP camp was also held in the UAE in 2011 ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup, and in England ahead of the ICC World Twenty20 2009.
Most recently, a camp was held in the UAE in March 2013 before round five of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship (WCLC). This was in the lead up to a heavy schedule of international cricket for some of the top Associate and Affiliate sides that included the final three rounds of the WCLC and the ICC Intercontinental Cup, the ICC WT20 Qualifier UAE 2013 and the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier New Zealand 2014.
Former West Indies all-rounder and current Ireland coach Phil Simmons believed that his charges will benefit greatly from its final preparations in the UAE. "Because of where we come from, with indoor facilities and cold winters, it is really valuable to have a camp like this before a big tournament like the ICC World Twenty20. The outdoor pitches and nets, those types of things are very important for our preparation. These camps are always a big help to the Irish side to get used to the conditions.
"Playing two practice matches here in the UAE is a big part of it. They provide a really good opportunity to test ourselves, and see what we need to work on."
Hong Kong coach Charlie Burke said the HPP camp was vital preparation for his side as it prepares for its maiden ICC global event. "From our point of view, coming to the UAE and having access to such terrific facilities is so important for us. It's winter in Hong Kong at the moment, so we just don't have the same training opportunities.
"This is crucial preparation for us. We will have three matches under lights here in the UAE against strong opposition. The majority, if not all, of our boys have never played under lights before, and we've got two matches under lights in the first round in Bangladesh, so it's a great opportunity for us."
Reflecting on the importance of the HPP camp, ICC High Performance Manager Richard Done said: "This HPP camp provides an opportunity for the leading Associate teams to hone their skills together as a group before they compete on the global stage at the ICC World Twenty20 2014.
"The teams will be using the great facilities at the ICC Academy, Sharjah Stadium and in Abu Dhabi to prepare for what they will come up against in Bangladesh. I have no doubt that the teams will benefit enormously from the camp and the additional time together as a unit."
The first round matches of the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014 will be played from 16 to 21 March. On the opening day, Bangladesh will square off against Afghanistan in Mirpur, while, in the evening match on the same day, Nepal will go head to head with Hong Kong in Chittagong.