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Ireland, Scotland commence tours down under

Mon, Sep 29, 2014 10:09 AM


Ireland and Scotland have touched down in Australia for a five-week tour that will see them gain vital match experience across Australia and New Zealand as they count down to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, which will be played between 14 February and 29 March.

The two sides join Afghanistan and the UAE in the southern hemisphere, and will play a series of matches against local and state sides to fine-tune their preparations ahead of cricket’s pinnacle one-day event.

Ireland, which will be appearing in its third consecutive ICC Cricket World Cup, will commence its tour with two one-day matches on the Gold Coast on Tuesday and Thursday, before featuring in two matches in Canberra. It will then travel to New Zealand where it will play two matches in Hamilton and two in Lincoln.

After arriving on the Gold Coast, Ireland captain William Porterfield said the HPP tour will provide vital match practice as well as a last chance for squad members to stake a claim for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. “The HPP tour is crucial. We’re going to have 18 lads in Australia and New Zealand, and that gives a bit of scope.

“It’s good, healthy competition and it’s good, the fact that the lads will have that experience going down under. I think it is going to a great experience, and a great learning curve for everyone to get to play in those conditions,” he said.

In 2013, Ireland recorded an historic treble when it became the first team to win three ICC events across three different formats in a calendar year. Porterfield said that the extraordinary year of success has filled his team with confidence. “Last year was pretty special, winning all three trophies; it was a goal we set for ourselves but we want to do that with major tournaments as well. At the end of these five months that’s what we want to be doing - competing in Australia and New Zealand.”

Ireland will be looking to continue its giant-killing ways at ICC Cricket World Cups, having defeated Pakistan and Bangladesh in 2007, and recorded a heart-stopping three wickets win against England in 2011, a performance that remains the highest successful ICC Cricket World Cup run-chase to date.

The 30-year-old skipper said his team has what it takes to continue its winning ways on the global stage. “We’ve progressed through the group stage in a few competitions and we don’t see it as a shock as such. If we get down there and beat a Full Member team, everyone in the cricketing world knows what we are about, and how we scrap and how we fight for games, and no one really takes us lightly anymore.

“It’s not about going there and competing anymore, it is about going there and winning games,” he said.

Ireland will open its ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 campaign against West Indies at Saxton Oval, Nelson, on 16 February, before facing the UAE (in Brisbane on 25 February), South Africa (in Canberra on 3 March), Zimbabwe (in Hobart on 7 March), defending champion India (in Hamilton on 10 March) and Pakistan (in Adelaide on 15 March).

Regional rival Scotland will commence its HPP tour with two one-day matches in Hobart on Monday and Thursday, before playing one match in Maroochydore. The side will then play four matches in Christchurch, the scene of its victory in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2014.

Captain Preston Mommsen, who led his side to victory in New Zealand 2014 and was adjudged Player of the Tournament, said his team will benefit enormously from its tour down under.

“This tour is a massive opportunity for us. Almost half of our squad is based with counties down in England, so we don't actually spend much time together during the summer. These HPP tours give us some valuable time to bond as a team, and at the same time to work out tactically what our best combinations and strategies for these conditions will be.”

Scotland has appeared in two previous ICC Cricket World Cups – in 1999 and 2007. Mommsen said the side is excited by the opportunity to appear on the world stage in 2015. “Only one member from our current squad (Majid Haq) has had the privilege of competing in the 50-over World Cup, so it'll be a new experience for all of us. It was always a shared goal for this group of players to qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup, so you could imagine the joy and excitement the guys felt the moment we qualified.”

Scotland will play its opening match of the Cricket World Cup 2015 host New Zealand at University Oval, Dunedin, on 17 February, before taking on England (in Christchurch on 23 February), Afghanistan (in Dunedin on 26 February), Bangladesh (in Nelson on 5 March), Sri Lanka (in Hobart on 11 March) and co-host Australia (in Hobart on 14 March).

Ireland HPP tour matches:
30 September – Ireland v Queensland, Kerrydale Oval, Gold Coast
2 October – Ireland v Queensland, Redlands Oval, Brisbane
7 October – Ireland v ACT XI, Manuka Oval, Canberra (day/night)
9 October – Ireland v ACT XI, Manuka Oval, Canberra
16 October – Ireland v Northern Districts, Seddon Park, Hamilton (day/night)
18 October – Ireland v New Zealand XI, Seddon Park, Hamilton (day/night)
21 October – Ireland v Canterbury, Bert Sutcliffe Oval, Lincoln
23 October – Ireland v Otago, Bert Sutcliffe Oval, Lincoln

Scotland HPP tour matches:
29 September – Scotland v Tasmania, Kingston Twin Ovals, Hobart
2 October – Scotland v Tasmania, Anzac Park, Lindisfarne, Hobart
9 October – Scotland v Queensland Second XI, Scorchers CC, Maroochydore
15 October – Scotland v New Zealand XI, Bert Sutcliffe Oval, Lincoln
17 October – Scotland v Canterbury, Hagley Oval, Christchurch
20 October – Scotland v Wellington, Bert Sutcliffe Oval, Lincoln
22 October – Scotland v Otago, Bert Sutcliffe Oval, Lincoln



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